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Jack Smith

And the moral of this story is: There's more than one way to travel 26.2 miles

March 05, 1987|JACK SMITH

Everyone seems to have loved the Los Angeles Marathon; and for those who ran in it or watched it, perhaps it was, as the paper said, "a party."

But for anyone trying to get into or out of the inner city, it was a drag.

On the face of it, the idea of virtually sealing off 1 million Los Angeles residents inside a 26.2-mile perimeter for three or four hours is insane.

Yet last Sunday we deliberately immobilized the heart of the metropolis by blocking surface streets; the only way in or out was by the freeways, and some freeway ramps were closed.

Unwisely we chose Sunday to take our three youngest grandchildren to see "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" as performed by the Nine O' Clock Players at the Assistance League.

The Assistance League Theater is at 1367 St. Andrew's Place, just inside the northern boundary of the marathon.

We left in time to pick them up at their home, on the Westside, at noon. Traffic was ominously heavy on the Santa Monica Freeway. On the way back, it was stop and go. We could see the runners plodding across the Crenshaw overpass.

"We better get off on Western," my wife said.

That turned out to be a mistake. I took the off-ramp and went north on Western and ran into the marathon at Olympic. The runners were coming south on Western and turning west on Olympic. They were a motley lot, uncoordinated, ill-assorted and seemingly endless.

We crept around the corner going east and turned north at the next street. A block away it was blocked off. Numerous other cars had made the turn before us. They were all trying to make U-turns at once to get out. I managed to turn into a driveway and make a U-turn. I went back to Olympic. It was gridlock.

Finally we eased our way through and went all the way east to Vermont. By that time the children were hungry. We saw a McDonald's.

"There's a McDonald's," my wife said.

"Do we have to eat at a McDonald's?" I asked.

"Yes!" the children chorused from the back seat.

My nerves were on edge. Traffic on Vermont was heavy and fitful. I made a left turn into the parking lot. We all got out and went inside and stood in the food line.

As close as I can remember, we ordered two cheeseburgers, three fries, one chicken McNuggets, three chocolate shakes, two Diet Cokes, and two of something called a Happy Meal, which contained a hamburger, fries and a Sprite.

"If they're having shakes, they won't need the Sprites," I pointed out.

"Hold the Sprites," my wife told the girl.

"I can't hold the Sprites." She said. "They have to go with it."

"OK," I said. "Give us the Sprites."

They left for a table while I paid. By the time I got to the table, it was flooded with Trevor's Sprite. Everyone was mopping up. Trevor's the youngest; he's expected to spill things.

I kept my eye on my watch. We weren't going to make it. I have an obsession about being on time for curtains.

When I hurried them out, they insisted on taking their shakes and their Happy Meals with them.

We got to the Assistance League two minutes early. I squeezed into a parking place on the street and we got into our seats just before the curtain. I was in a state of nervous exhaustion, at least as drained as the last of the marathoners.

The Nine O'Clock Players are all women--even the Prince. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was adapted from the fairy tale of the Brothers Grimm, with original music and lyrics by Carol Weiss.

The costumes were flamboyant. The performances were exuberant. Of course everyone knows the story. How the vain Queen looks into the truthful mirror and says

Mirror, mirror, tall and grand

Who's the fairest in the land?

And the mirror, quite honestly, says that Snow White is. The Queen flies into a jealous rage and orders her major domo, Sir Pompous, to chop off Snow White's head.

Of course he can't do it, and he lets her run into the woods, where she finds a cottage occupied by the seven dwarfs. They take her in as their housekeeper, which is demeaning work, but better than losing your head.

Witch Wicked puts a sleeping potion in an apple for the Queen, but the crafty Queen takes it to the cottage and induces Snow White to eat it. She falls into a deep sleep and the dwarfs, thinking her dead, hold a funeral. The Prince arrives and kisses Snow White awake. Feminists have complained that this part of the story implies that women can only be awakened by men; but it's an old story and no one dares tamper with it.

In the finale everyone sings "Every Deed You Do Reflects on You," which was the moral.

The children had been thoroughly attentive. They hadn't talked or squirmed or asked to go to the bathroom.

"What do you think?" I asked Casey, the 7-year-old.

"I liked it," he said.

"Did you get the moral?"

"What's a moral?"

Back at his house, Casey demonstrated his skill on the computer with a game on division. Instantly he answered such questions as what is 144 divided by 12, what is 121 divided by 11, what divided by 8 is 6.

I figure he can learn morals later.

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