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Saturday, July 16, 2016

At Sixes and Sevens...

An interesting phrase, this one. I first ran across the saying in the script of Thornton Wilder's play The Skin of Our Teeth. I was a high school drama director at the time, and as it was my directing debut, I had something to prove. First time directors, I'd heard, often chose Wilder's Our Town because the staging required a simple set, a bare stage with chairs representing cemetery plots. The Skin of Our Teeth, on the other hand, called for elaborate sets and numerous set changes which the set crew rehearsed countless times so that each took less than three minutes.

The context of the phrase: the Antrobus household is in a topsy turvey state because father George has failed to return from work at his customary six o'clock time. Lily Sabrina, the household maid, sums up the turmoil by saying: "It's the coldest day of the year. The dogs are sticking to the sidewalks. The world is at sixes and sevens." In other words, things are in a state of chaos, disorder, disarray.

I've been thinking about that phrase a lot these days. Geopolitical turmoil, terrorism rampant ("The Middle-East is everywhere," someone recently said), mass shootings here at home. I can't remember the last time I've seen the flag flying high at its masthead. The current political scene: someone who's never had a job suddenly wants one; the other, who has had several, given a tainted resume, will have a hard time finding an employer. The oceans are warming, melting the heat reflecting icecaps. Our refrigerator ice maker is on the fritz....

And I'm expecting a phone call at any moment. The news will not be good.

The world is at sixes and sevens.

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