Friday, October 1, 2010

Greece: Theseus and the Three Amigos

"Stop it you guys!" the young boy cried. "Give it back!" It was another day in the playground, maybe a Tuesday in the Spring, as Tony chased after his tormentors. It was his turn to be "It" so he knew eventually they, his friends, would let up on him though he much preferred like anybody else to not be the victim. They were "The Three Amigos" of the schoolyard, though so each of them got it twice each week except Sundays it seemed. The sun was high and a few small clouds glided overhead as if chasing the kids and leading them with fleeting bits of shade while they chased each other around the grounds.

Recess for Tony was not always about pick-up games of tag, kickball or marbles. It was also a chance to catch up on his private reading. Sometimes in the midst of pigtails being pulled, muddy knees and teachers' whistles he just wanted to be alone, off in another world. There was always playtime after school at home before dinner.

Try as he might every now and then to have some quiet time and stay out of trouble, though, his buddies could always be counted on to stir things up. Tony was never one for being quiet all that long anyway and they knew it so what could be more fun and natural than targeting him for a quick game of "Keep Away?" And today the focus was the thing Tony happened to be reading. It looked like, felt like and was drawn like a comic book only it wasn't one most other fourth graders would be reading and thus began the game.

"Whatter ya readin'?" asked Reiner as he snatched at the comic.

"Theseus," replied Tony, quickly drawing it away from one line of attack. That question never came without a grab at the prized possession.

The world in the pages of this comic was unlike any he had ever seen, read or heard about. All of the names were strange, both the names of people and the names of places. Every rock, plant, river and body of water had a name which belonged to someone who fell in, fell off or was transformed to preserve their memory. Even the stars, planets and constellations had an angle. Were they kidding?

"Who?" challenged Donald, deftly snagging the book from Tony's unsuspecting hands and turning it over, peering at it suspiciously.

Never the fastest reader around, Tony just the same could not turn the pages fast enough as the story unfolded before his eyes and in his mind. This one had strange animals with still more strange names and gods. Lots of gods and all of them with strange names, too. And they were just as flawed and vengeful as the humans and heroes who built temples for them, fought wars because of them and went to the ends of the earth to find or get away from them. This stuff was better than Superman!

"Theseus and give it back!" Literally rising to the challenge, Tony was on his feet, bored with the ritual of it yet eager to get back to his story. Tony liked Donald and Reiner. They were his best friends in his fourth grade class. Like any friends, though, sometimes they weren't always in sync. They wanted to play and Tony was always a part of that play. Today, however, Tony just wanted to read. That didn't matter to Donald and Reiner.

Ancient Greece would have to wait - this was, after all, an elementary school playground. The chase was on.

Gotta go.

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