Sunday, November 5 2006
setting: Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York, US&A
This morning we got our bagels from Bagels on the Square, the same shop as the one we'd visited yesterday. And again we ate them while seated on benches in tiny Sir Winston Churchill Square. We noticed that only about half the leaves accumulated behind the bushes had been raked up and taken away.
I'd assumed we'd be heading back home early in the day, but Gretchen had other ideas. She wanted to see a Broadway musical called Avenue Q if we could win the lottery for the front seats in the theatre. Gretchen explained that since it was pioneered for the musical Rent, many Broadway musicals have had a policy of reserving the front row of their theatres for low-price ($23) tickets to be given out in a lottery system to those who show up a couple hours before the performance. This gives the most-committed/lucky/persistent fans an opportunity to afford the best seats in the house. (Normally a ticket to a Broadway musical costs somewhere around $100.) As with operas, I have no particular interest in the musical format. That said, sometimes a musical is the best way to an express a creative impulse; I've loved musicalized episodes of The Simpsons and, rarely, musical-based movies (Hedwig and the Angry Inch comes to mind). Gretchen told me she'd heard great things about Avenue Q, that it is a hilarious production involving muppet-style puppets and real-life actors in a Sesame Street-for-adults kind of way. At first I was reluctant, but she managed to convince me to at least participate in the lottery.
So we went to the theatre, each of us filling out a little ticket asking for two seats, put them "in the hat" and then went to the nearby Marriott to use their 2nd floor lobby bathrooms, which were immaculate despite being sort-of-public and in Times Square.
Our odds at winning seats in the Avenue Q lottery seemed to be about 1:5, but back at the theatre, Gretchen's luck manifested itself yet again. Her ticket was the second to the last drawn!
We had about an hour to kill before the performance, so we walked a few blocks until we found Rudy's, an unashamed dive bar. When we showed up they were in the midst of replacing a part of their plywood floor (the entire floor of Rudy's is made of plywood with a dirt-and-spilled-drinks patina). They were technically closed, but when Gretchen asked if we could come in pretty please they said what the hell and let us in. We drank our beers in a red naugahyde booth that had been repeatedly repaired with bright red duct tape. Meanwhile the floor project continued apace, with loud, dull handsaws periodically interrupting our conversation as they burned through wood, filling the bar with smoke.
Our luck with regard to Avenue Q was such that I ended up with one of the two best seats in he house, right next to the center aisle in the front row. "Congratulations!" said the usher when I showed her my ticket.
Avenue Q was great! It was funny and irreverent in all the ways that Gretchen and I are together, with songs such as "It Sucks To Be Me," "My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada," "Schadenfreude," and (best of all) "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist." The premise is a guy fresh out of college with a BA in English has to go all the way out to Avenue Q to find a place cheap enough to live, and once there he starts searching for his purpose, repeatedly getting distracted along the way.
Escaping Manhattan today was made difficult because lots of other people were trying to do the same thing. The New York Marathon had happened this weekend, and now all the folks who had come to participate or spectate were crowding transportation modes out of the city. We showed up at Penn Station in time for the 5:45 train, but it was full so we had to wait two hours for the 7:25. Meanwhile Gretchen was coming down with some transient illness.
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