Category Archives: sociology

The Award.

CHAPTER 51. Epilogue.

The girl was dark.

I couldn’t put my finger on it. Something about countenance, posture, contraction of the forehead muscles.

There had only been one other student, over the two decades, to carry the color; a penchant for asking that his photo be taken next to the American flag he’d been arrested, in recent years, for going door to door impersonating a police officer.

I’d taken over the after school drama club, established by a beloved fifth grade teacher who’d handmade racks of full body felt and taffeta. Frustrated at the keyboard with the small tape recorder of musical selections played back stage I’d begun to provide live underscoring, followed by interruptive vocal coaching……within two years of dealing with me, our fearless leader – the long line of framed photos across the back of the auditorium her legacy, plus that room full of costumes – retired. By the next school season I’d given the club her honorary name, and assumed the position.

There were no kits, from theater companies, in my sphere of awareness. I’d been driven, as a child, to write, produce, cast, direct (and, star in) school plays; soon, I would be adapting classics, then shorts from Spanky and Our Gang DVDs, and casting dozens.

The auditorium stage, our classroom, had a band of colors – hot, directly above our heads. Blue; green; red. Lights, I would discover, set every mood and greatly supplanted the absence of scenaric backdrop.

Though self conscious and introverted in character, the girl had an eye. Beyond assigning a small walk on part wearing a hat with ribbons, I made her head of the lighting crew.

As leader of illumination, she was stellar. I could rely on her to flick those switches precisely aligned with the action. That countenance proved fully aware of every aspect of the scene and its underpinnings. Though only one other parent would ever play the role of backstage manager through some ten productions, behind the curtain this girl ran the show.

The drama club ballooned into an all consuming undertaking. So many students auditioning, the shows would be double cast. The district having chosen to consolidate school enrollments, progressively adding 6th, 7th then 8th grade to our building, within a few years those who’d repeatedly starred from childhood would reach middle school graduation. It took this tunnel visioned creative a couple of seasons to realize awards were both earned and deserved.

Menopause, care of one 90+ year old father, my response was dismal; only mustering one set of drama club certificates that can even be recalled, seems I’d promised lapel pins but had no memory of their ever being received by the office in mail. What repeats in a loop was the day, during class, I’d announced the winner of Most Outstanding Female, Drama Club.

Presiding in front of the students seated before me in the auditorium, I declared one of the other girls who’d played lead in a few productions the winner. One, singular reaction still plays in that tape. Expectation; momentary hopefulness; furtive glancing about; then, disappointment and, fleetingly, resentment. I had failed my best stage manager, the girl gifted in scenic lighting.

During the days following that moment and well past the graduation ceremony, curious events unfolded. My Gund hand puppet, a gopher, role played across all grades during music class, turned up missing. Parked in the school lot, my car was keyed. Unsettled, I mused; only one face floated into the firmament of suspicion, all too familiar.

In the decade following retirement from public ed, I would search out former students on social media. Amongst the thousands, dozens would appear. Astonishingly this girl, the only one from our entire history of cast and crew, would attend NYU. I perused her albums, discovering that she had focused on photography and stop motion animation. At the Friend Request button, my finger paused.

Black out.




Copyright 6/8/23 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, who published moments ago before adding the copyright and whose name appears above this line. No translating, copying in part or whole, permitted; sharing by blog link, exclusively, with credit. Thank you for protecting original material. Cut!


Last night, CNN aired a special on legendary Hollywood icon, Elizabeth Taylor. Along with references to her many films and philanthropic efforts, she was encouraged to recollect, and comment upon, the numerous men with whom she’d had affairs and had married.

When she reached Richard Burton, the nature of Ms. Taylor’s narrative changed. She could not stop favoring him and their time together with every conceivable compliment. Though they’d notoriously fought throughout both their marriages he’d been, hands down, the love of her life.

Euphoric Recall.

The last point, on the list of symptoms in codependent “relationships” with addicts.

To my mind and heart, it’s the killer.

The biggest stone in the road. The greatest force of resistance.
The devil’s favorite device.

Driving home from Ohio this afternoon, encountering construction and being forced to submit to reduced speed single lane, I had plenty of time to allow this phenomenon to percolate.

So much about failed attempts to establish mutual trust and nurture between myself and the afflicted had been relatively easy to discard: the brutal verbal abuse; the erratic mood ambiance; the gaslighting..; but, walking away from the precious moments – quiet, contemplative evenings; ravenously satisfying gourmet meals; gifts of warm clothing; and, sharing the love of an adorable dog….even the occasional, fruitful conversation, and memories of a physical passion that had always smoothed over everything else in its path…..all this brought the heartache.

Mathematicians are sometimes reviled for their lack of emotionality; but, tonight, I’m betting they have a much easier time compartmentalizing their feelings of longing up against the multiple factors working against what should otherwise nourish and sustain.

One gifted in the numbers might design a pie chart. You know, cutting the diagram of the proverbial dessert into various sized pieces, tabulating and then establishing percentage values for every offense – how many times hurtful words were weaponized; how many hours between good moods and tantrums; how many binges displaced intimacy; how many instances wherein memories of what actually happened were questioned, challenged, or reconstituted until reality warped…..and, lastly, assigning a small sliver of pie to complete the circle, representing euphoric recall.

For those of us not so blessed in the numerical equivalent department, the emotionally hopeful component balloons in our consciousness. Looming lasciviously, licking its lips lying in wait for us, euphoric recall lures us back into the lion’s den. And, no; the Biblical prophet Daniel is most definitely not going to appear to calm the beasts, though we are so SURE we think we see him…..

In one big gulp, euphoric recall swallows up every negative second of however many months or years we’ve devoted to exhaustive misery, leaving us bereft, devoid of any resolve to remain free. This not so little demon convinces us that the addict is truly worthy, a classically good person who wants desperately to both care and be loved. The translation is complete.

The only way we reach any realization to the contrary is to do the very thing we are convinced must be done: return. We cave. We go back, for more.

And, that’s exactly what we get.

I don’t know how Elizabeth Taylor felt the day Richard Burton passed. I wasn’t there. I never knew her, and she never told me. I do suspect that she felt a whole pie chart of emotions, from rage to devastation to grief to relief.

I said relief. I said it, because I meant it.

Years later, reflecting on the whole of their life together, she remembered only what she loved about him, about being with him, about their life as man and wife. To the interviewer, she insisted; they’d had a world of fun, and she’d do it all again.

I’m not at all sure how I’ll feel, in my own retrospect. Perhaps I’ll pass before he does, and he’ll have the story to tell. I do know that, tonight, I’m no Elizabeth Taylor and he’s no Richard Burton. Strip away the glamour, the glistening, and the guise; we’re just two crippled people, addict and codependent, and if there is anything at all to remember about us I hope our feeble memories can retain something good.

The love of my life?

At this point, I just cannot recall.




Copyright 5/15/23 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole or by translation; sharing by blog link, exclusively. No AI lifting of contents. Thank you for respecting original works by humans.

Betty’s Daughter.

Mum always had her back to us.

This wasn’t deliberate. She was just always busy doing something.

Whether the dishes, the laundry, the floor sweeping, the yard tending, the endless sewing……this was a woman who valued staying on task, until the work was done.

Or, at least, this was how we came to understand her.

In the weeks leading the swift decline from the glioblastoma which took her life, I would modify that conclusion.

Mum had always been a dreamer. A child of the Great Depression, she loved imagining what life would be like outside of the constraints of the reality dealt to her. And, she would indulge these fantasies, with her hands to the plow.

Reaching the end of her life so abruptly, the diagnosis roaring in a rush after vague symptoms not observed by anyone but Dad (whose comprehension of their import were never translated), I imagined that everything Mum had figured she would eventually do would now come sharply into the focus of regret. There was clearly no more time left, to go to France or England. Time would soon be replaced by eternity, and the scope of a state minus any literal framework seemed far removed from anything she could grasp with the view she had learned to accept as vastly finite. Far more appealing to simply ride out on the wings of unrealized dreams.

Like my mother before me, I stood at the kitchen sink this morning, scrubbing away at the countertop beneath the strainer tray, getting down to the stuck on grit neglected for so many months. As I worked, I could see and feel her, doing the very same. Even on Mother’s Day, Mum would gather the bones of her arthritic body, rise up out of bed, the Sunday dinner already prepared the night before, get dressed, wake the rest of us, place the beef roast in the oven, and scurry us all off in the car to Morning Worship, Dad walking alone the two and a half blocks to our mutual destination. Upon our return, the cards and potted plant gifted to her following dinner she would – after a brief, precious nap – resume her work, scrubbing the sink, wiping the stove of its drippings.

On Mother’s Day, to our mother being acknowledged was secondary; she, head of her own household, embodying both commitment and self sacrifice, had already determined that this day, like every other, was her own to spend exactly as she deemed important. And, that she did, to the glory of God, until her final breath and beyond.

Back to work.




Copyright 5/14/23 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, Betty’s Daughter, whose name appears above this line. Please, share via blog link, exclusively and, if you quote, please cite the source. Thank you. Happy Mother’s Day, Mothers!