A New Leading Man

There’s a cute boy in my theatre company. Okay, there are a lot of cute boys in my theatre company. That goes with the territory. But there is one in particular.

It all started right before Christmas. I had one week left before flying back to San Francisco and even though I was only looking at two weeks away from NYC it felt very final, so much so that I was ticking things off in my head in the very collegiate way of “17 papers, 12 finals, 55 power point presentations left until FREEDOM”- that’s always how the last week before winter break felt. Post college it’s more “last weekend in NY of 2008, last late shift at work 2008, last theatre company meeting until 2009…”

This last meeting can be divided approximately in two: one part theater, one part flirting with Cute Theatre Boy. It wasn’t purposeful flirting (I hadn’t quite pronounced myself 100% recovered from being dumped) and I didn’t think much about it, though I did find myself pleasantly surprised when after the meeting we just so happened to be walking to the same subway station. We end up on the platform, me waiting for the express and him waiting for the local, which of course came first. I see it arriving and in those  30 seconds-doors opening/people getting off/getting on/”THE DOORS ARE CLOSING. PLEASE STAND CLEAR OF THE DOORS.”- my mind is fraught with Hmm how do I say this goodbye? Wave? Is a hug too much? I mean, I don’t know him that well, but-. Fortunately my buzzing brain is interrupted by his hug and “Bye! Have fun at home, see you next year!” and as he does this I am completely overwhelmed by a strange, weirdly severe urge to kiss him. If my buzzing, overactive brain didn’t crowd out my instincts, as it so often does, I would have kissed him. Instead I’m left alone on the platform buzzing Well, there goes a guy I’m not going to see for three weeks. Damn. Oh well!

The following day I’m back at the theater putting in work hours painting the dressing room. I had systematically removed all costumes knowing they must be returned to proper places and remain paint free and was getting kinda lonely kneeling on the floor, paint brush clutched in paint covered hands, having deja vues of summer when I had to paint my entire apartment before we could move in, when who shows up but Cute Theatre Boy. Who just so happens to be putting in work hours as well. I hand him a paint brush. We quickly discover we have quite a few things in common. A mutual love of Edward Albee, two musicals most theatre snobs hate, Maine,  used books (which he claims to have an addiction to, where as I’m just a bargain hunter/frugal/green/”Asian”), and that we’re both leaving NYC to go home for the holidays on the same day. We end up painting two coats which we deem “totally necessary” (total lie) and before I know it I’m done with my last theatre work hours of 2008! And faced with another good-bye situation. This time however my choice is clear, limited by the circumstance of the presence of other company members. So I just hug everyone “bye” (though perhaps him a little tighter).

Then I’m gone, down the stairs, out of the theater, walking to the subway in the drizzling rain thinking Shit. Totally have a crush on Cute Theatre Boy. Hmm…I’m almost a block away when I hear someone shout my name. I turn around and he’s running down the street toward me. In the 30 seconds before he catches up to me, romantic Hollywood cliches of passionate, 360 degree kisses in the rain flash through my head.

(Surprise, it  also made me think of a Sex and the City moment)

ARVE Error: no id set

Then he’s reached me and: “We forgot to put the clothes back in the dressing room.” All romantic thoughts flee from my mind and HI REALITY! PPBBT! I’m the only one who knows the proper place for the costumes. Great. I’m stuck going back to the theater. Great. great. great. (grumble). And we’re walking back. And then Cute Theatre says “Want to see a movie or something before we leave?” Yes!! Although I’m not a fan of movie dates…so “How about a play? Have you seen Gypsy?” “Sunday?” “No good, Friday?” “Ok!” “Great!” So this is what happens when two actors date- scenes like this and Friday nights spent on Broadway watching Patti LuPone do what she does best. As we walk down the rest of the block, some of the romantic thoughts begin to peak out from their place of hiding. I’m not a jaded New Yorker, I’m a New Yorker with a date!

Stories left from Summer

Sometimes when I’m surrounded by the silicone preserved bodies of the exhibition I now work at. Sometimes when it’s 22 degrees out and it’s been raining all day. Sometimes when I make some trivial mistake and my boss makes me feel like a five year old little girl. Times like these make me miss the warm, sunny days of standing among swarming tourists in humid as hell Times Square.  These days I spend a lot of time alone with my thoughts and my cadaver pals. It gets boring, and I a girl who strives to avoid boredom at all costs. In Times Square, thousands of people past me everyday. It’s hard to be bored in that environment, even if only 1 in 1,000 interact with you. A few of my favorites who beat those odds:

The Woman Who Hated Mary Poppins

I’m standing outside the Times Square subway station, passing out fans par usual. Ok, let’s spill. They are Mary Poppins fans. I spent the summer working for Disney. Now you know the full truth. Anyway, this woman in full Obama regalia- buttons, hat, t-shirt- is walking past me. I offer her a fan a KABLAMO she explodes MARY POPPINS IS RACIST! YOU THINK YOU CAN JUST GIVE A WHITE LADY A UMBRELLA AND SHE’LL KNOW HOW TO TAKE CARE OF KIDS! ALL THE PEOPLE I KNOW WHO TAKE CARE OF KIDS ARE BLACK! THAT SHOW IS RACIST AND FASCIST AND YOU’RE RACIST AND FASCIST! FUCK YOU! Before I can even open my mouth she disappears down the subway stairs. Lucky she did this to me and not some undecided or Republican voter, I know there are people who would have condemned Obama by association.

The Jesus Freak Searching for His Disney Princess Soul Mate

It’s late afternoon and approaching the end of my shift. I have a bunch of fans in my bag that I’m not going to finish passing out in the next five minutes and I’m a couple of blocks from the office so I decide to pack up and go back a little early. Cue me being a klutz and spilling dozens of fans all over the ground. Great. Few things feel tackier than hunching over to gather little blue fans of the sidewalk, knowing the dirty little secret that they are not going in the trash but will instead go back in the bag and later be passed out to the unsuspecting public. I’m picking up fans. Cue someone stopping to help me. What? I’m in New York. This must be some tourist from Say-hello-to-everyone-in-town-help-your-neighbor-with-his-gutters-ville. New Yorkers don’t stop on the street to help klutzes. That’s the opposite of the cliche. Unless they happen to think the klutz is a pretty girl…Shit.

He’s short, extremely Italian, and promptly introduces himself to me as Vinny. The street is clear and I thank him for helping me and damnit just as I feared, the guy does not continue on his way, but instead starts to make small talk. Aw damnit, I’m a pretty girl. Have you accepted Jesus into your heart? Cue small talk veering in an extremely atypical direction. Great, Jesus freak. Well at least that makes him more or less benign. In theory anyway. Nope Vinny, I’m what you call agnostic. Not into the organized religion thing.  Jesus loves you. He’s the way to eternal salvation….Yawn. I’m walking down the street trying to escape this as indirectly as possible, I’m representing Disney = I’m technically employed to be nice and cheerful and not a bitch, but Vinny’s walking along with me and yammering away with completely stereotypical Jesus Spiel until I want to get to know you, maybe we could do something together sometime? Ugh. Vinny, I have a boyfriend (total lie, but it often gets the job done). That’s okay. I don’t believe in boyfriends and girlfriends. I only believe in soul mates. Jesus has been showing me visions of my soul mate. In the vision she’s a Disney princess. And today when I saw you on the street, blonde hair, blue eyes, your Disney shirt- I think Jesus lead me to you. Well Vinny, you certainly win points for the most original, unlikely to be duplicated EVER pickup line. Wow. I managed to shake free fromVinny by promising I would friend him on myspace. I remembered the url long enough to look it up and have a laugh. http://www.myspace.com/vinnyao. Pretty much what you’d expect from a Jesus Freak I guess. Can you believe his name really is Vinny?

 

Life As A Chick Flick: The Break Up

boxers
[img: sproducts.com]

He’s sprawled out on the bed wearing only his cornflower blue boxer briefs (his description, not mine… In the time we’ve dated he’s switched from boxers to boxer briefs which must be a milestone- from boyhood tighty whities to adolescent boxers to, finally, adult male boxer briefs?- because he’s made a big deal about it. To the point of identifying the exact shade of his underwear. Yeah. Definitely one of those kinda cute in the beginning, kinda weird by the end things. Also as something so uncharacteristic of straight males, it did, in vulnerable moments following this story, make me want to condemn him to stereotype: Gay! even though I know he’s not.) In the back of my mind where the lessons of my liberal arts education and the wisdoms of my best friend (a self-described feminist who minored in gender studies) lie I consider the machismo nature of his pose, the male dominance his body language is begging me to acknowledge. He’s looking at me.

I can’t do this anymore.

I listen to the phrases fall out of his mouth, aware I’m responding to several but I am completely not in this scene. I am having an out of body experience where I’m watching myself in a poorly written, badly acted, made-for-tv movie:

It’s not you, I think you’re great.

We come from too (two?) different places.

We want different things.


And I think I’m the New York cliché?

Had he said “It’s not you, it’s me.” I would’ve laughed uproariously in his face. But he didn’t say that so it didn’t end in peals of laughter, it just ended. The finale of my Central Park Guy saga. It was a fun episode for the most part, an interesting introduction into the perils of dating in Manhattan. “No shame, no regret”. Those aren’t my words, those are the words the guy has tattooed, one phrase on each forearm. Insignias he did not have when I first met him in the park. Now they are permanently etched in his flesh and in my memory, a trivia fact that makes a brilliant ending to his story arch.

It really came down to “We want different things” – the only line that didn’t raise my bullshit! flags. Yep, like so many of the men and women of New York, we wanted different things.

If you’ve seen the Sex and the City movie, you know women come to New York looking for two L’s: Labels and Love.

SATC20ladies

I came to New York not looking for the labels I knew I couldn’t afford and not looking for love but rather to figure out what the hell I wanted. Well it’s six months later and after this Central Park Guy experience, I have a much better idea of what I want. Carrie Bradshaw had it right all along. Yes, here I am- single, fabulous (exclamation point), lusting over a pair of Chanel eyeglasses (I tried them on at Lenscrafters just for fun- big mistake), and looking for love in the big city (and apparently in danger of becoming the cover sleeve blurb of a chick lit novel. Still, it beats “It’s not you, I think you’re great”).

Now the problem as I see it, and Carrie neglected to say this, is that while women come to New York for those two L’s, men come for two F’s: Food and Fucking. Both of which are available on many a street corner for a price far below any kind of designer duds. Even the most decadent meal and a high class hooker? Still cheaper than one high end handbag. (And yet men make more money than women? WTF)

We want different things.

And so the task is to find someone whose wants match up with mine (and whose weirdnesses mesh with mine annnnd about 100+ other things). The odds are against me, but when aren’t they in this city and when isn’t that half the fun?

Meet Me at the Met

Last night I went to the opera.

Opera has at least as many clichés as New York City, namely this one:

Its not over til the fat lady sings.
“It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings.”

When you ask someone under 30, maybe even 40 what they think of opera the average response? A “yuck” face or “I’d rather listen to the screeching of subway breaks” or “haha yeah right I’m not breaking the bank to go see that”.

Well my night at the opera contained no “yuck” faces, no fat ladies, no viking horns, not even a maxed out credit card.

It was quite an affair. We’re talking the Metropolitan Opera. This “is the most widely heard and known opera company in the world” (source: http://metropolitanopera.com/). 4,000 seating capacity and it is packed on a Thursday. World class. La creme de la creme. This is it.

I walk up the steps of Lincoln Center at 7:40, perfectly early, and get swept up in the droves of people entering the sparkling building. While the average age is probably close to 50, there is representation across the board from children to college students, young couples, little old ladies, other couples who have probably had season tickets for all 50 years of their marriage, gossipy party girls in tight cocktail dresses, gay men in jeans, tourists touting fanny packs, four matching fur coats it alarming succession, overdressed ladies in princess-esque ballgowns. Needless to say I don’t feel out of place but I wonder how the hell am I going to find my date among the masses? Oh right, it is the 21st century, cell phones exist. Duh. Though it’s easy to forget that when you step through the glass doors of the Met. There is such a feeling of tradition and nostalgic romance. The structure feels as though it has changed very little over its 125 years with lavish red carpeting, sweeping staircases, towering ceilings, gold elevator doors, and polished wood bars where beverages are served in actual glass or ceramic.

I have no trouble finding my roommate, my opera-virgin Met partner in crime, and together we make our way to the entrance where ushers scan our tickets (ah another reminder that it’s 2008) and direct us “to the left, four floors up.” Four floors up. We tackle the stairs which is the only way to go when you’re on a teeny tiny budget that doesn’t include a gym membership. And yet this same budget allows for opera tickets? Come again? It happens to be one of the best deals in the city, on par with the other Met (the Metropolitan Opera and the Metropolitan Museum of Art share this shorthand, which can be confusing) with its “suggested donation” where one can view four floors of world class art for the cost of pocket change, a sneer from ticket sales, and a little guilt that you only paid 73 cents (yes, it’s been done) when $20 is suggested. Here at this Met one can view four floors of opera for 15 bucks. There are movie tickets that cost more.

Four floors up means height.

Our seats are in the section Parisians call “Paradise” due to its proximity to the heavens and Americans call “the Nose Bleed Section” due to their lack of poetry and love of violence and gore. We’re looking down at it all- no neck strain from craning to see the glittering crystal chandeliers or the dozens of boxes that line the sides.

Later I overhear a man pointing at our section say knowingly to his companion, “Those are the best seats in the house. The acoustics are fabulous.” He’s right. The sound bounces off the ceiling right down to us and the listening experience is unlike any other theater I’ve ever been in. I can hear the whispers between the people next to me as clearly as if I was meant to be part of the conversation, shuffling and murmurs four rows in front, and every single cough anyone in the audience makes during pianissimo moments. Which might be annoying but I find it really cool, incredible even. The house is gigantic yet nothing is mic’ed. Opera stars, for that you undeniably put Broadway to shame.

The lights go down, the orchestra tunes, and the personalized subtitle screen in front of each seat (another notable change from 1883) reads For English, press button, for German press again, for… Button pressed. La Traviata Act I. The gold curtain rises on a gorgeously detailed 19th century drawing room. Performers enter and I feel like I’m looking inside a doll house or a museum diorama.

This is the ballet from Act II. It made me think of The Phantom of the Opera which I, and maybe you were too, was obsessed with at the age of eleven.

The altitude means details are lost, faces are blurred, and I’m already planning to steal a pair of binoculars from my mother (who, as an avid birdwatcher and opera enthusiast, has multiple sets) when I’m home for Christmas. But in spite of this miniature quality I still greatly enjoy the show. It’s a classic opera, Boy loves Girl, Girl has terminal disease so she won’t allow herself to love, Boy wins Girl over, obstacle keeps Boy and Girl apart and in the end when all is resolved and they could live happily ever after she instead dies of TB in his arms (and unlike in Rent there is no ridiculous resurrection). The music is breathtaking, moving and brings me back to my high school days where I was a “chorus girl”, a singer much more than an actor, and the several music classes I took in college. I still may not listen to classical music in my free time but I most definitely appreciate it.

Two intermissions, numerous arias, and one tragic finale later the curtain closes. The audience irrupts into applause and bravas! as confetti (the 21st century’s pathetic substitute for roses) rains down on the singers taking bows. Wow, what a night and wow do I feel cultured.

We travel down the staircases, out into the chilly November air, and head for the subway. It’s been a long day and opera demands active listening, so we are both exhausted and greatly looking forward to sleep as we board the subway. 35 minutes later the end is insight, we’ve got one stop to go. My roommate’s preparing for the outside cold by putting on extra socks and the man sitting across from us is adjusting his pants. Maybe you know where this is going, but it takes me a lot longer: “Haha, subway riders are funny. We put on make up, we change socks, we shed layers. We tuck our shirts in. Which this guy across from us seems to be having trouble accomplishing..Wait..no…NO..NO HE CANNOT DOING THAT! FUCK! HIS PANTS ARE AT HIS ANKLES! FUCK! FUCK! COULD SUDDEN MOVES BE DANGEROUS? FUCK!” We dash to the next car EW EW EW hoping the train is about to stop and doors open quickly. Fortunately that series of events pans out and the other scenario- where the big scary man chases after us, his pants around his ankles, penis in hand- is left to haunt me only in nightmares. Well the night just went from awesome/beautiful to disgusting/can’t get any worse, and thank god it doesn’t. Our other roommate has just gotten off work and he picks us up with in moments. We recount our tale of woe and his reply is, “Well yeah, you live in New York City and take the subway. It was gonna happen sometime.” And through the disgust and violation I can’t yet wipe off my face (major “yuck” face) or shake from my body, I laugh. Could the night have been anymore contrasting and New York cliché?


The Lost (Last) Month

It’s the little, everyday things that make me love living in New York. The little freebies that don’t leave me cursing my working-artist-day-job paycheck. If time is money, I may spend more to smell the roses than I do on rent (unbelievable statement? Yet it’s true.) And the mundane in NYC is so much more exciting than anywhere else. How can I complain about my commute when I have the art deco splendor of Grand Central or the beauty of the Brooklyn Bridge framed by the East River to welcome me off the subway? Why does coffee taste so much better when you’re strolling up the lower east side, pre-9am, and drinking out an “iconic ‘We Are Happy To Serve You’ paper coffee cup” (to quote the MoMa Store!)? It actually makes it worth the dollar+ more we pay than any other coffee drinker in the world.

Click for product placement plus the MoMAs delightful little blurb
Iconic. (Click for product placement plus the MoMA’s delightful little blurb)

Even horrible errand like surrendering my baby -my laptop- to the geeks of The Geek Squad is fun in NYC because I feel like Carrie Bradshaw. This comparison only grew stronger when Ben (the Geek) let me know my baby does not in fact have a virus as I thought. In hindsight hoped. Nope, its’ motherboard is what’s fucked up. And here my Sex and the City comparison deviates. On the one hand unlike Carrie I back up my work- though these days “my work” mostly consists of the chapters of this blog and you all know how well I’ve been attending to that… On the other hand (that hand that sucks balls) unlike Carrie I do not have a boyfriend who will buy me a brand new macbook (and let me assure you, I wouldn’t complain if it looked like a purse, or a hamburger for that matter). So there I am standing in Best Buy with all these thoughts running through my head and I realize I have two major problems. The first one: I compare my life to Sex and the City way to much.

If my laptop was a ’01 mac, this parallel would be complete.

It’s ridiculous. Then I start to wonder if this is a problem for other people. I bet it is. Maybe it will get serious enough and a clinical study on the Sex and the City obsessed will become necessary and than I can get PAID for my problem! Yes, that was my train of thought. This is when you realize you have no money- when you start to fantasize about having diseases which would allow you to be part of paid clinical trials/studies. I find myself browsing craigslist and wishing I had ADHD, depression, sleeping disorders, premature ejaculation, SOMETHING, ANYTHING that someone will pay me money to study. Which leads to problem number two (though after my clinical trial fantasy confession do you actually believe I only have two problems?), which is kinda a two-parter: I HAVE NO MONEY AND NO COMPUTER.

So here I am stuck without a computer. I am more or less Amish. Now do you understand my lack of updates? There are only so many times (right now for instance) that I can steal my roommate’s without feeling like a leech.

Now not surprisingly, a lot has happened in this computer-less, blog-update-less month. And not just little things, big ones too. Both summer jobs ended. No more fans on the streets, no more ushering and celeb sightings. I had two fun weeks of unemployment where I explored the city, visited relatives, traveled to the Alma Mater. That was weird, let me tell you, going back to college when you really don’t belong there anymore. Don’t want to belong there anymore, which was nice to have confirmed. Sure, I do miss my friends but college seems a world away, a world I look back at fondly but absolutely do not miss. Especially after another big thing of the past month- I had a successful audition! I’m part of a theater company now! Which is a different outcome from your average audition where you get offered a specific part, so I’m not clear on details yet (hopefully they’ll revealed at the orientation this week) but it is awesome to be part of the NY theater scene in an acting capacity! Yay!

You’ll never guess my new job is. It’s weirder than the streets. I’m working guest services at a science museum that’s devoted to the human body. The real human body- everything in the exhibit comes from an actual corpse. Or is an actual corpse. Yep, I go to work and am surrounded by dead bodies. Which isn’t as creepy as you might think, and I’m fine with it for now, but I don’t plan on staying for too long (I’m looking at craigslist for more reasons than possible clinical studies).

And the last bit of big news- I started seeing Central Park Guy again (again? yes, there was a period when I wasn’t) and in the past month we’ve become exclusive. Isn’t that funny, that something’s become of this guy I met my first day in New York? Who’da thunk.

That’s the summary of the big things. Specific stories to come (I never want to neglect my sweet little blog again).

My Same Old, Same Old (never finished)

We had a familiar face in the audience tonight. Back after seeing our Shakespearian tragedy less than two months ago, it appears James Franco is a loyal patron of the theatre. We had an almost identical conversation to our last (oh my that was fun to say. Let’s be honest- we’re totally bffs now), he was seated in my section. Again. I cursed myself for not having seen Pineapple Express last weekend and vow to see it asap- date or no date, in sickness or in health. Though had I seen it, I doubt I would have talked to him about it, however much I’d want to. He did his very best to keep a low profile and totally succeeded- I saw no one go up to him- I would have hated to ruin that. He seems like such a nice guy.

It’s already been 5 weeks of this show and still two to go and yet some how I still enjoy watching it. I’ve come to realize ushers may be the only people who truly get to appreciate all aspects of a show. We get to see all the tiny details that you just start to see after your tenth viewing. I doubt anyone appreciates the amazing work of the ensemble- I’ve begun to watch them more than the leads. I get to see all the individual stories and relationships that they’ve created which become even more interesting than the main action. It’s so fun to look everywhere but the place your eye is initially drawn. I just don’t know how I’m going to deal after this job ends when I can barely afford to see shows once. I’m spoiled. Sigh. My life is so hard.

The opening night party for this show was quite different from the last. I almost missed opening night as I had planned to take the weekend off and travel out of the city, out of the state, via plane. Instead I planned it out perfectly (so I thought). I booked a flight that left at 7am. Thus the plan: partying until the wee hours of the mourn, then taking the subway to JFK, then getting on the plane and sleeping the whole plane ride. A bit ambitious but totally doable and a time saver. The plan was made more doable by a much more low-key nature of this opening compared to the season opening gala. There was no pre-show dinner, no speeches from the mayor, no red carpet, no celebs. No cute caterers to flirt with. Which left me only with audience member prospects and I’m not comfortable flirting with audience members because it feels undeniably unprofessional. Unless they flirt with me first. Which actually worked out very well for me.

He was impossible not to notice. First because he was the guest of the man who created the show and second because he was freaking tall, at least 6’7″ if not more. And he was cute.

I on the other hand am very easy not to notice. There are 20 other people dressed identically to me in their khakis and blue STAFF issued shirt. STAFF is written in big letters across my chest and generally people behave like it is both my full name and full identity, so it’s always fun when someone takes a moment to realize my life dream is probably not ushering and that there is a lot going on under “Hi, may I help you find your seat?”

6’7 Guy immediately acknowledged this predicament upon entering the theater. He returned my “Hi” and complemented the flower in my hair (yes I’m a San Francisco flower child, I’ve embraced it) Nice flower, are those staff issued to? with a smile and a wink.

There is something about me that attracts winks. I get winked at 20 times a day. By men of all ages, shapes, colors and occasionally women. 6’7 Guy’s wink made sense to me. An “I’m kidding and possibly flirting with you”. The random winks by street passersby are much more confusing. What do they mean: You’re cute? I’d hit that? I have appreciation for your presence on this earth? There’s something in my eye? I knew you in a past life? I don’t know! Winks are more confusing than the illusive facebook poke.

to be continued..

(I haven’t posted in forever- you need new reads. I’ve been working on this post for awhile and hopefully posting it will inspire me to complete it. Your comments can effect the finished product!)

[edit April 25, 2013: This post was never finished. 6’7″ Guy became the only successful no-strings-attached affair I have ever had. We kept in touch for over a year, until I lost interest. He thought I was a wild child, I never learned his last name. It was a perfect affair, of Sex and the City proportions. I will always remember it fondly.]

Political Theater (sans Brecht)

Fall 2008. Election season. It’s all everyone and their blogroll is blogging about these days. Palin, McCain, Bidin, Obama, yada yada. I’ve clicked a couple job postings on craigslist with titles along the lines of “Bloggers wanted!”, thinking how incredible it would be if I could profit off writing I’d do anyway, but are they interested in theater and New York escapades? Nope. They all mention special interest in political posts. Well, that’s just not my scene. I’m not apathetic, I’m passionate about certain issues, I will most definitely vote in November, you can probably guess who I’ll vote for. But it’s not particularly interesting to me and I have absolutely no desire to delve into the mess of this campaign in my little corner of cyber space. Pass on politics.

Well, that was my original plan until last night when theater and politics collided in a particularly unforseen way.

We were warned at the start of our shift, long before the house opened. Greg, who shares charge of the same section as me, and I had a brief discussion and agreed they would be sitting in our section. Seriously (as previously discussed), anyone who’s anyone sits in our section. Sure enough, mere moments after this chat our supervisor approaches us, They’re sitting in your section. You don’t need to do anything really, the secret service are five billion times more scary/capable/better paid then you know what to expect. Can you handle it? I’ll move you if you think it’ll be to much. And miss out on being in the center of the action? Are you crazy? We will handle it!

Over the next half hour the theater fills up as usual. Lots of “up the stairs, 3rd row to your right” and “it ends around 10:40” nothing exciting. Then at about 7:55pm I see a procession arriving from the stage door entrance and before I even look over, the theater erupts into applause. Flanked by huge men in suits and intimidating earpieces Hillary, Bill, and Chelsea -the entire Clinton family minus Socks- enter the theater and head straight toward my section.

This super high profile political family having a night on the town, going to see a rock musical in Central Park. Wow, who would’ve thought? It was amazing to watch how their presence effected the entire show. The audience had a level of energy and excitement that you usually only see at sporting events, events where the outcome of the night is not predetermined. This energy and excitement was also noticeable in the cast. By their seventh week of the run where I had seen every show, I definitely noticed the novelty wearing off, the tediousness of performing the same thing every night setting in, moments of phoning it in- all extremely subtle and surely only something a fellow actor would notice. Well, with the Clintons in the house the cast performed better, fresher, with more energy then ever and it was truly awesome to watch. There is a moment in the show where one character goes into the audience to point out his mother, “Oh my God, my mom is here tonight! wave to the people, Mom. I love you.” Every night a different woman is chosen- sometimes she looks like she could be his mom, sometimes she’s a hot chick, sometimes she’s not even a woman. That night he got Hillary to stand up in the role of His Mom and it was hilarious.

My section at intermission was a mad scene. Everyone in the theater wanted to say Hi and shake the hands of the former president and senator. Greg and I went crazy and I thoroughly lost my voice yelling at people “Ladies and gentlemen this is a fire hazard! You need to clear a path! CHILL THE FUCK OUT!!” I certainly earned my minimum wage for that hour. I was expecting an even worse situation after the show, but the secret service suits blocked off the area right before curtain call so all I had to do was my usual “make sure no one takes pictures” duty. This puts me facing the audience as they watch the bows. Which had me 2 feet away from Hillary, Bill,and Chelsea. I did a pretty awful job looking for cameras that night, I hope people appreciate the illegal pictures they were able to snap because I couldn’t resist watching the Clintons as they applauded.

I watched in hopes of answering my burning question: how did they like the show? Their response was positive, they stood up with the rest of the crowd, clapping along, they didn’t leave at the earliest possible moment- but as I stood searching for an answer I was hit by I scary realization.

There was no way in hell I’d ever know.

That’s not the scary part, that is the duh part. The scary part to me was realizing that no matter what they actually thought of the show, the only way they could ever respond to the show was the “appropriate way”, the way they were “supposed to”, the way the public would want them to or think that they should. As I stood there sneaking looks, realizing this, I was overcome with sadness. The actors on stage were all done with their performances for the night, but here Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea were continuing theirs. Their act is one that carries through any public appearance of any kind. I imagined how awful it must be to not be able to be yourself for fear that people won’t like you and thus not vote for you. How awful to try to get everyone to like you. To kiss the babies, shake the hands, smile even if you feel like shit. I watched Hillary’s plastered on cheerful face as she applauded and realized how much politicians have in common with actors. We say the world is our stage, but that is bullshit when you think how literally true it is for politicians. Humbling.

As they left the theater I gave them a wave good-bye, they’ve done so many good things on a world scale and on top of that they support theater=major respect from yours truly, which they saw and then, with a look of sincere thanks in their eyes, both Bill and Hillary sought out my hand to shake as they departed. Wow. Quite a night.

I have a whole new understanding of politics from this and while in awe it also makes me strangely sad.