John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The Odyssey

You never know when you are getting a history or literature lesson ….so it’s always good to keep an open mind. Especially if an 11 year old is involved.

When I was 10 years old, my neighbor Kyle Hibbs, had me over to spend the night. Kyle was 11 and clearly more sophisticated than I was. I ran the Lemonade stand in our neighborhood with Kyle as my CFO and Kyle ceded basketball and a few board games to me. But when it came to culture and coolness, Kyle had an edge over me I knew I might never be able to challenge.

So when he excitedly asked me over to spend the night and watch the movie “The Odyssey” which was in channel 41 at 12:30am, I had no socially acceptable response but to pretend that sounded like an awesome idea even though it sounded suspiciously like something one of my boring school teacher aunts might recommend when I spent the night with them.

Everybody was asleep except Kyle and me and we loaded up on soft drinks and candy as our big movie was about to start.

jyb_musingsI pretended from the start to be really into it. Even though I wasn’t. I focused mostly on the soda pop and candy and my wondered on to other more interesting topics.

And then something happened.

The story pulled me in just a little bit even though it seemed like a grown-up story. I didn’t realize that they weren’t playing fair and I was watching a classic, a timeless and age-agnostic tale. And then pulled me in a little more and a little more until I was entranced.

To this day, many years after finally reading—and loving– the full literary masterpiece The Odyssey (including the Cliff Notes), whenever the famous Homer Epic comes up, it’s the images from the famous movie starting Kirk Douglas that I see.

And also how I learned to ingeniously fend off an angry Cyclops and to escape by clinging the underbelly of scampering sheep.

I’m glad I played it cool and pretended like I wanted to watch The Odyssey —until I actually did want to watch it. And led to a life-long interest in Homer.

And having cool and sophisticated 11 year old friends who encourage us along the way to try new things that aren’t obvious or “popular” is absolutely essential.


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