A table for one. That's me. Old #92. Or so it was in a distant town while I waited to see C.C.'s play. I didn't know how long it would take me to get there since I had to drive in the after work world. The interstate was a parking lot as I neared downtown Gotham, but I still ended up getting to my distant destination early. Earlier than I thought as the players would not mount the stage for another two hours. But it would be o.k., I thought, as the little downtown is one of the prettiest you'll ever see. It has fine restaurants and pretty shops on a gorgeous strip of a slow, divided boulevard. There are breakfast places and late night bars--all for a population of 46,000.
And then you see some redneck in a replica Batmobile with slime green LED lights strung about, and you go, "Yea. . . ." It is a multifarious population.
I thought to walk about and see the sights, but I was wrong. I was limping badly, moving slowly, and most importantly, painfully. I keep thinking I can live with this, what used to be called a "trick knee" in the old days. "Old football injury," they would say. Half of Hollywood's leading men had limps. John Wayne. James Arness. James Garner.
There was another factor. I got dressed for the first time in years. I mean the whole shebang--long pants, long sleeve shirt, shoes. . . and I even brought a jacket. I had put looking in the closet off until the last minute, then I picked a shirt that had been hanging there since I left the factory. I sniffed it. Huh. Seemed fine. Jeans with a belt, for christ's sake, and my new Chuck's that my New Old Friend had me buy telling me that they were cooler than my black ones. My closet needs to be cleaned. I need a do-over. I want only linens. Not the thick Irish linens. Those are awful. No, the sweet, flouncy linens of tropical nights, light and breezy and classic. As the earth grows hotter, I think that this is all I would need.
Perhaps I will have to go to Hong Kong to have them made. Do they still do that there under Xi? God knows. The world is going to shit.
And so, after limping about and crying inside from frustration and pain, I went to the theater to get my VIP pass.
I was too early. The nice ladies batted their eyes at me, though, so I assumed they had not seen me limping. I found a bench outside the theater and sat down in the wonderful afternoon light. I was only a few feet away from the banner they sat up outside with a red carpet. People were lining up to take photos in front of it.
I watched two blondes for a long time. They stood before the backdrop a couple of times and had another person take their photo with their phone. They would hunch over the screen to see, then hand it back for another. After that, I watched them take selfies for about twenty minutes. They were really good at it. One of them would hold the phone at arms length and they would turn their heads and do something with their lips, then move a bit while the phone camera shot rapid fire. It was really something to see. They were real pros and surely the envy of their friends.
After awhile, a fellow in a sequined jacket, torn jeans, and silver, sparkly shoes came out. It was the star, I was told. He was real Broadway. The girls approached him and they began to chat. Then they lined up with him on the little patch or red carpet and got some more photos. They talked for a good while. Maybe he knew them. Maybe they were aspiring actors. Beats me. This was just what was happening in front of me.
In a bit, I saw C.C.'s son and wife approaching. We chatted for a some time until I saw C.C. I waved and he came over. The theater was open now. It was six o'clock. Inside they were serving drinks, so we ambled over to get our passes. As we stood there, a woman stepped up and said, "You came back!" She stared deep into my eyes rather maniacally. I was taken aback. Who was she? I hadn't a clue. Then she stuck her tongue deep into my ear and shoved one of her hands down the front of my pants. That is what it felt like, anyway. She wasn't unattractive, but I am shy and have had little interaction with strangers for a long while. I went into stone cold paralysis.
"What's your name?" she asked me, smiling largely. I couldn't remember. I stared at her blankly, I am sure. She kept talking, maybe asking me things. I don't know. It was my turn now with the guy giving the passes. Before him was a long list of names.
"Pick a name," I said. "Any name. I'll take it." I was hallucinatory at this point.
"You're already in," he said, "if you are with them." He meant C.C.'s family.
"Uh, uh. . . I mean. . . ." I told him my last name.
"There are three of you," he said. Nothing was making any sense to me at this point, but I was playing it well. The woman kept licking my neck and doing the old rub and tug which was confusing the hell out of me. "Who do they think I am?" I kept wondering.
"Yes, there are three of you. Look at this. Two of you have the same name."
There was a women's name with my last name--times two. Two women named Marsha with my last name.
"No, no. . . they are not with me."
"Well, who knows," the fellow said, "maybe you'll find out they are your relatives."
I think the woman next to me was was trying to unbutton my shirt. Jesus, these theater people, I thought. What is happening.? Any moment, I imagined, they would force me into having strange sex right there in the streets.
The fellow wrapped a wristband around my wrist far too tightly. My hand would go numb within moments. I was sure that this whole thing would involve bondage. I began to see as with a super wide angle lens, faces becoming large and distorted as they got nearer to me.
"Snap out of it," C.C. said to me, and without a word I followed him inside.
I was disappointed. They liked me. What was wrong with me? I started thinking that I wouldn't have minded the sex thing, but the moment was gone. I had blown it.
Story of my life.
When C.C. told me that he would go into makeup at seven and the play would start at seven-thirty, I knew I would need to eat. He directed me to a little French place just across the street. I would have time to get a bite.
When I entered, it seemed to be a coffee/pastry shop. The pastries looked really good, but I needed food.
"I was told you had sandwiches," I said to the heavyset girl with the crazy hair and the septum ring. She pointed to a stand holding little paper menus. I picked one up, but the print was too small for me to read. I REALLY need to get one of those little jewelers chains to hang a pair of glasses around my neck. I will never carry a pair in a case. So I squinted and held the menu in the light and could make out "Flatbread American." I ordered that and a glass of rosé. I never drink rosé, but I thought what the hell, it is becoming ever more popular these days.
I took a sidewalk table and thought about the woman across the street. Why do women scare me so? We probably could have had a fine time. It is just all the initial stuff, I thought, the getting to know someone and then making allowances for some of the things you think are not ideal, then going through it a couple times until you realize it just isn't right. You see, I didn't love her the moment I laid eyes on her, and that is all I want. I only ever want to fall immediately in love.
Dinner done, I went back to the theater. I saw C.C.'s family and we went in to get our seats.
The play began. It was a musical. Have I ever told you how much I love a musical? I've told C.C., so I was wondering what I had done to piss him off. They sang. They danced. Then C.C. came on. He had a juicy part. He played Shylock the Jew. He didn't sing. He didn't dance. No, he had the best part in the production. And it was a great production. It was real Broadway. These cats were really, really good. It was a hell of a performance, and if you like musicals, I would highly suggest this one.
But we got only the first act. C.C. told me that he would be tap dancing in the play, but that must have come in the second act. I wanted to see him dance. I was sure he would break a leg.
Driving home in the dark, I realized I needed to get my eyes checked. I couldn't see well. Lights were blurry. Even the big highway signs were difficult to read. I wasn't gripped, but I wasn't thinking about the evening until I got home.
Exhausted. I wanted the whiskey I have been eschewing. I poured a beer instead and sat on the couch. I thought about the woman with her tongue in my ear. That was nice. I should learn how to handle things better. I'd have more fun, I thought. What has waiting on My Own True Love ever gotten me, anyway?
That night, I had the craziest dreams. C.C. was there. He has a fetish for Asian women. There was a woman from Japan, a very pretty young woman. She was designing a property that would be eco friendly. We chatted. We sat close. She had a boyfriend who wasn't there. I could feel the heat, so I decided to kiss her. I knew it would be a mistake as I have never done such a thing in real life. And at first, it was, but then she said she wanted that again.
I woke up. Shit, shit, shit. She was so pretty. I loved her. I tried to get back to the dream, but I had to pee. And that was it. I kept trying, but I couldn't get back there. The rest of the night was a sleepless horror show.
I got up before five. I'll be dragging today. Maybe I'll have to go back to the theater to see the second act. I might get a second chance, you know?
Yes, you know. Ha!
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