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The Best Seat in the House Opinion Essay

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Updated: May 26th, 2022

Who is Poppy?

In this essay, Melissa tells us about how she interacted with her grandfather. Her feelings, emotions, and inspirations revolve around an oak box- a priceless gift from her grandfather, which passed from the grandfather to her mother than to her. Poppy, Melissa’s grandfather, made this box and as Melissa confirms, “It is a memory of the grandfather I never knew, a man who loved me with all his heart” (Burns 125). For sure, this statement is true. She knows her grandfather’s love so much but because of her tender age, she could not recall the times and performances they had together. Even though she never met her grandfather, her mother gave her a picture of him. According to her description, he was in his adulthood a, “German giant: six foot four and slender, with an olive complexion and dark but graying hair” (Burns 126). This statement is most likely true because photographs can bring some memories for Melissa.

Melissa goes on to give some details about her grandfather and describes him as “a master craftsman, a WWII statistical officer in Italy. A peacemaker, a member of a bombardier squadron in the European Theater, a fighter pilot, a looker, a gentleman, a joke-teller” (Burns 125). Incidentally, poppy died four days after his 72nd birthday because of a coronary heart attack. At this point, one thing is clear; the perceptions of Melissa concerning her grandfather are not firsthand but reflect her mother’s opinions, as she is Melissa’s informant about her grandfather. A two-year child cannot remember such details as these without an external source, in this case, Melissa’s mother.

Another major discrepancy of this story is the fact that Melissa sees her brother as an image of her grandfather. As Burns says, “he shares the height, the charm, the gait, and most of all, that devilish, cock-eyed smile” (Burns 126). This shows that Melissa has no memories at all about her grandfather but the images she has are from her mother. No person can remember the smile of their grandfather when they were two years old. Again, she says, “Poppy would lay me down on the family room floor and conduct a series of “tests” (Burns 126). This is evidently a projection of storytime images created in a Child’s mind when they receive new information. At this point, Melissa appears to have been disillusioned and cannot relate firsthand information and secondary information. While she received most of this information from her mother, she fails to acknowledge that and presents it as firsthand information.

Another point of concern is the fact that Melissa paints an image of a perfect grandfather, which is not in the first place realistic. She tells her about his humor, kindness, love, and such good things about him. In reality, every coin has two sides and every person has admirable characteristics and flaws. Unfortunately, in her story, Melissa seems to forget this aspect. This may imply that she was painting a picture that she wants us to see concerning her grandfather or that it is all she knows about the grandfather. The latter seems to be true because from the above discussion we realize that she was not using firsthand information and thus the information she got most likely was not reliable to draw such deductions as she has.

Dreams come true

At the age of ten, Melissa joins the music industry with a dream, to become an excellent bassoonist. Her friends who noticed her aptitude in playing the piano prompted her to follow this path and secondly, the high demand for young bassoonists in the industry. This she confesses was the most life-altering choice in her life (Burns 127). This statement is completely agreeable for indeed it was a life’s time decision. Her journey in this new path starts on the right foot with her getting Walt, an excellent bassoonist who never accepted beginners, as her coach.

The experiences as a bassoonist are this time real and firsthand. As she describes how she felt about the surroundings of the newly chosen path, her feelings seem to be real experiences. As she says, “Although I was at first intimidated by the phenomenally talented musicians surrounding me in the orchestra the long bus rides together, nights spent in hotels and sense of mutual admiration soon created an atmosphere in which these musicians became some of my closest friends” (Burns 128). This part of the story presents a memorable actual event, which has not drawn influence from narrated experiences and told stories. It is an actual feeling that Melissa can account for herself and represents feelings gotten from real-life experience.

At the end of the story, her dream comes true, Melissa finds herself “standing in the wings of Carnegie hall, placing her great patent leather shoes where the “greats” had place theirs.” All through these moments on the stage, she performed with a wandering mind and blurred memories. She could not tell what was happening. She continues to think about her ghost grandfather and as she says, “Poppy, I’m quite certain, was witnessing the entire scene from above. He undoubtedly had the best seat in the house” (Burns 129). She had carried the imputed memories and emotions into the hall. Nevertheless, her dream has come true and despite all the thoughts in her mind, all things go well.

Melissa is now a student at Stanford University in northern California. She still has the oak box from her grandfather and is in wonder, “If dreams come true others are born?” She latches the box shut and puts it in its resting place on the shelf signifying the end of one chapter in her life. At this point, Melissa seems not to have learned the lessons her grandfather “taught” her during the floor time “tests.” She abandons a dream that has come true and calls it a closed chapter. She seems to have lived a lie only to realize it after it is over and begins all over again to search for reality. She appears to have been disillusioned. One thing that seems to be far out of her understanding is that once dreams come true, the dreamer lives the dream and does not look to actualize another dream.


Melissa has drawn inspiration from her grandfather, who in my opinion is her mother, to achieve a dream. After such a success, she abandons it to search for another. This is a great failure since dreams are lived once achieved and therefore the best thing Melissa can do is live her dream. It was a great success to achieve her dream but it is a greater failure to abandon that dream and search for another. If Melissa does not learn to live dreams, she will utterly fail at the end of achievement as it has happened in this particular story.

Works Cited

Burns, Melissa. “The Best Seat in the House.” Dreams and Inward Journeys: A Rhetoric and Reader for Writers. Ed. Ford, Marjorie, and John Ford. NY: Longman Publishing Group, 2009.

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