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GG091124: Musical Chairs

November 25, 2009

While Terry joined the others in the pool, I subjected myself to a dreadful thing called musical chairs, another cruel game. There’s one chair short, and when the music stops you have to run for a seat. The life lessons never stop at a children’s party. The music blares. You never know when it’s going to stop. You’re on edge the whole game; the tension is unbearable. Everyone dances in a circle around the ring of chairs, but it’s no happy dance. Everyone has his eyes on the mother over by the radio, her hand poised on the volume control. Now and then a child wrongly anticipates her and dives for a chair. He’s shouted at. He jumps off the seat again. He’s a wreck. The music plays on. The children’s faces are contorted in terror. No one wants to be excluded. The mother taunts the children by pretending to reach for the volume. The children wish she were dead. The game is an analogy for life: there are not enough chairs or good times to go around, not enough food, not enough joy, nor beds nor jobs nor laughs nor friends nor smiles nor money nor clean air to breathe … and yet the music goes on. — Steve Toltz, A Fraction of the Whole (p39) —

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