Ali tries to get inside the brain of the middle-aged man who sat next to her at Pippin.
by Ali Gordon
"I know what I want for my birthday," says my wife coyly, stepping into the living room. I peer at her from over my newspaper.
"I want to see Pippin! It's a Broadway musical. Let's drive into New York and make a night of it."
"Sweetheart, you know how I feel about mu - "
"I know, but this one is different," she protests, "This one is fun, and it has an amazing set, and it's young and sexy!"
"You said that about Phantom of the Opera," I shoot back flatly. That one was a disaster for us.
"No, no, this one is different. This one is Fosse," (another word that means nothing to me, but is strangely accompanied by bizarre hand motions from my wife) "This one has acrobatics!"
"Why don't I treat you and Suzanne to a night at Pippin? That'll be my gift," I offer, but she's cut me off before the end of the sentence.
"No, no, no, I want to go with you! That's what I want for my birthday. Please."
It's such a simple wish. How can I deny her?
"Sure, sweetie. I'll get the tickets tonight."
She jumps up and down and claps her hands, and - though I don't care to admit it - I can't remember the last time she's looked this excited.
Then she spins on her heel strangely gracefully.
"You know, in high school I played Fastrada. Everyone said I was really good!"
Later while I'm buying the tickets on-line, I notice the show is circus themed. Oh, horror. My two least favorite things: clowns, and musicals.
The horror continues.
First, the commute into New York is dreadful. We sit in the Lincoln Tunnel for nearly an hour, and my wife gets antsy and claustrophobic when we're stuck underground. She's fidgeting with her blazer enough that some of the beading embroidery on it snaps off, which makes her even antsier. I pop in a CD of one of her favorite musicals and let her play through the entirety of In The Heights as we drive the rest of the way into the city, which she knows I hate, but I'd rather she didn't tear her blazer to shreds. Plus, it's her damn birthday.
Then, the dinner at Junior's sucks. The waiters are rude and my cheeseburger was fourteen lousy dollars! Fourteen! But I take a deep breath. It's her birthday. And I love her.
We walk to the theatre, and my wife is squeezing my hand. We have row C tickets in the orchestra, which I figure is far enough back to avoid any eye-contact or weird audience participation crap. I hate that. But then we sit down and to my abject horror, we are in the SECOND row, and we're smack dab on the aisle, which means we're gonna get talked to. By clowns. A lot. Save me.
The lights go down. Here we go. Torture. But my wife is clapping and her face is flushed bright red with anticipation.
A woman comes out on stage in... hm... a "form fitting" outfit. She's not bad. I like her. Hopefully she's in a lot of this show. Nice a...rms.
Oh, jeeze. I didn't expect for the circus set to be that big!
How did they get that all in the theatre? Is that someone's job... to figure out how to build all that crap on a stage?
That's a pretty okay job.
Hey, there are no clowns! Thank lord JESUS there are no clowns.
Hmm, I wonder if that's the costume my wife wore in high school when she was Fastrada. I bet she was really sexy. Damn. Everyone probably wanted to get with my wife... but I got her! Hah, take that!
"Thank you," she whispers under her breath. My sexy Fastrada wife is insanely happy with me right now. I can sit through two more hours of this, I think. It's not half bad.
Oh, shit, they're talking to the audience now!
I want to hate this.
But I guess the girls are pretty sexy.
And the acrobatics are pretty unbelievable.
And my wife is pretty ecstatic.
Oh, hell, I guess I'll "be engaged" as my wife likes to say. But just this once.
I kiss my wife during curtain call. She's been crying. I almost wanted to cry, too. Not just because of the story, but because of my happy, happy wife. And all it took was one stupid musical! We both leave feeling overjoyed and, overcome by elation, I do a silly dance move in the street. My wife laughs harder than she has in years.
(This story is entirely fictional, but I swear I watched the man next to me at Pippin go from scowling to beaming in the course of 10 minutes. It was magical. And he spent the whole intermission asking his wife, "What other musicals are like this one? I love this!" P.S. Go see Pippin. Seriously.)ALI GORDON is an actress, writer, comedian, optimist, and waffle enthusiast. Most frequently she can be heard doing funny voices. www.ali-gordon.com
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