Saturday, February 12, 2005

Friday Night Lights

My Friday night plans fell through at the last minute so I was left with time, a definite sense of cabin fever brought on by two days this week nursing a virus, and a city full of entertaining options. What I didn't have was a companion.

I'm not asking for pity however. I have plenty of friends. But on this particular night and with so little advance warning they were either out of town, sick, tired after being sick, or just not in the mood for the kind of fun I was.

What kind of fun were you up for, you ask?

Tsk, tsk. Put that naughty little thought back on the shelf (we'll dust it off for another time). I simply wanted to see the Fertles Celebrate Weiner Day at the Skate-arama.

Houston is blessed with numerous theaters where all types of drama, musicals, performance art and the like can be enjoyed. One of my favorite venues is the Radio Music Theatre which happens to be only a few miles from my humble abode.

When I couldn't find a co-conspirator, I decided that I was a big girl and I could go it alone. So I changed into something that made me feel all grown up, grabbed the keys and made my way to the show.

I love the fact that these three actor/writer/comics have created their own world in Dumpster, Texas, populate it with characters they embody by simply changing a hat or a hairpiece, and house it all in a fantastic theater space that is solely dedicated to their world. The only drawback is that there is no assigned seating. Which means that I had to get there fairly early to get a good seat.

But I'm confident. I'm secure. I'm a woman who can hold her own. No problem, right? Right!

I march to the ticket booth. I state my name and receive my ticket. I stroll down the narrow hallway where the familiar sight of Steve*, the founder, primary writer, and one of the actors greets me in the doorway.

"How many are in your party?" he asks as he reaches for my ticket. (One of the traditions here is that everyone pitches in to do all the work, which of course, means Steve has more hats than his head could hold -- including usher.)

"Just one."


"Yes, one."

To the sound man who was helping locate available seats, "She's alone, Can we find a place for her . . . for one?"

Me, smiling, "Could you say that just a little louder? That whole 'she's alone' part. Thanks."

Now he's smiling and it's not just the polite I-have-to-stand-at-the-door-and-welcome-people smile, but a genuine grin. "Well, I guess I could escort you," and he takes my arm and moves me halfway across the floor before giving me over to the other guy who has found me a seat.

A seat.

At the end of an empty row. A row that will remain empty for the 30 minutes I have to wait for the show to begin and then will fill in the last minutes with loud, old people who don't turn off their cell phones and then when it rings, and it does, announces to whoever they think cares, that they don't know that number before fumbling with it and returning it to their front shirt pocket. But that's another story.

For now, I'm alone on this row that is in the main traffic pattern of the waitresses and those who, having secured their seats with their parties of four and six and eight (do you notice those round numbers?) are now checking out the toilet options. So I'm shifting from side to side in order to keep my foot out of the traffic pattern.

At one point, Steve walks by, smiles and says, "We had to put you here with an empty seat beside you no less, huh?"

I answer, "Yes, and if you could manage to turn the spotlight on me at some point that would be delightful as well."

Again, he laughs and returns to his numerous duties.

On his final walk through the audience, he stops one more time. "I'm Steve, by the way. What's your name?"

"K____," I say and smile, because I know that bit of information will turn up again and very soon.

I'm right.

When we enter Dumpster to celebrate the bigness that is Weiner Day, Doc is called upon to emcee the dance action at the Skate-arama. Doc, played by Steve, is supposed to be a fast talking Cajun that no one can understand but due to his standing in the community (population of about 15-20 from what I can tell), he's often asked to perform duties outside the medical profession. Communicating must not have been critical at the Skate-arama, since English only comes out of Doc's mouth every 10 words or so. Otherwise, it's a marble-in-the-mouth-form of gibberish.

But tonight I definitely understood one word.

Doc: "gibberish, gibberish, gibberish, gibberish, gibberish, K_____ (my name), gibberish, gibberish, gibberish"
2nd character: "What did he say?"
3rd character: "I don't know exactly but I think he said, 'Couples Skate.'"

One last zinger. Steve got me in the spotlight for my single-ness one last time. I laughed.

Of course, no one knew the joke but Steve and I. But we shared it. And I wasn't alone. Yet another reminder that I never truly am!

(*I admit I'm making up my blogging rules as I go along, but it's my blog so I can. Steve is really this guy's name and he is definitely alive. My rule has been that only dead people got their real names printed. But Steve is famous . . . at least more famous that I am, so I now have a new rule: Dead people and famous people will be named."

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