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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Shout Out

My wife and I went to New York yesterday. Because we're too cool for school, clearly.

Actually, that's not why we went. We went because, a month ago, I bought us tickets to see the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music." I saw an email ad for heavily reduced price tickets because Catherine Zeta-Jones, portraying Desiree Armfeldt, would not be appearing in that particular evening's performance.

Like any good Jew, I leapt at the opportunity to see a Broadway show for cheap money. I mean, I would love to see Catherine Zeta-Jones take a shower-- but I don't much need to see her on Broadway.

I love "A Little Night Music." I saw it when I was fifteen years old in downtown Philly and, while much of the restrained comedy and sexual overtones (and undertones) no doubt escaped my still-forming synapses, I immediately fell under the spell of Sondheim's delightful music. At one point, I had recordings of the show on audio cassette, CD, and LP. I lost the tape a while ago. When I was still making mix tapes & CDs for my wife in the infancy of our relationship, back when it was a Pittsburgh-Philly thing, I included songs from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, and "A Little Night Music" amongst the bold, brooding, and baritonriffic voices of contemporary and not-so-contemporary folk musicians whom I also adore.

Mrs. Apron had me explain the plot of "A Little Night Music." Who's Count Carl Magnus? Does Henrick really play the cello onstage? Why does Charlotte do what she does? And what the fuck is up with that "Miller's Song" song? I did my best to explain the show, and soon, Mrs. Apron grew to love it, too, sight unseen. We would sing along with the CD or the record and it, strangely, became a part of us.

And so, for her birthday in October, I took Mrs. Apron, and her sister who happened to be visiting, to see a local production of the show in downtown Philly. And, around fifteen or so minutes into the show, I started fantasizing about slashing my throat with the edge of the playbill. My companions were heartily disappointed. My sister-in-law & wife were, at times, asleep-- especially during Madame Leonora Armfeldt's drowsy song, "Liaisons."

Then, in early March, I saw that email about "cheap" Broadway tickets to the revival.

So, yesterday, we went to New York. Whenever I go to New York, I always emotionally prepare myself for the possibility that any number of awful things will happen to/around me.

* The car will get stolen.

* My wallet will get stolen.

* I will get shot.

* My wife will get raped.

* I will get yelled at with profanations.

* We will get lost.

* We will fuck up the subway thing.

* A giant, rabid subway rat will gnaw off my testicles.

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. You know how it is.

While we returned home at 2:00am with my scrote intact, two of the things on that list did, in fact, happen. We fucked up the subway thing. We waited around on the wrong platform after the show for approximately half-an-hour before realizing that an A, C, or E train was, well, not going to come there save for an act of God.

And I got yelled at with profanations.

We had just spilled out onto the traffic-walled road right before the tolls to the Holland Tunnel. Gas stations on the right, an newly-erected, enormous fucking Home Depot on the right-- tolls far off in the unattainable distance. Cars squeezing into lanes-- people forgetting they don't have EZ Pass, everyone cutting each other across for one lousy inch of progress-- preparing oneself to become a New York City driver, pro tempore. Being a gorgeous day, I had the windows open, when I heard a sarcastic granny-voiced mutter from somewhere to my right,

"You're really generous."

I heard this as a light blue Toyota Sienna minivan was about to mate with the left rear quarter-panel of my newly-acquired Volvo. Now, normally, I do not respond to people who say things to me while I am on the road, because I have this innate fear of getting Glocked in the face. but I didn't mind tousseling with some turkey-necked grammaw. And so, against my better judgment, I turned and said,

"I'm sorry-- what did you just say to me?"

Grammaw, now I saw she was in the passenger-seat of the minivan, said,

"I said you're so very generous."

Her son, approximately fifty years old with a tree-trunk neck and a jarhead hairdo-- probably an ex-Army officer, added,

"You're a real asshole."

I thought about the contradiction inherent in their two statements and I said,

"Well, am I very generous, or am I a real asshole-- I mean, which is it?"

"You're both!" the son replied, explaining the apparent incongruity.

"Oh! Thank you," I said, "thank you very much."

Grammaw threw in, in case I didn't realize why she was upset, "we were trying to get into this lane."

"Well," I said, "I didn't see you."

And then traffic forged ahead an inch or two, and they fell in behind us. While they undoubtedly forgot about the incident in a matter of minutes, I was upset by it for the whole day, every so often replaying the exchange in my brain.

"They're right, you know, those people in the minivan" I said to my wife, later in the day, "I am both very generous and a real asshole, depending on the circumstances."

We went to the fabulous Museum of Art and Design, wandered around there for a long time, admiring what creative people can do with paper and cardboard. It was a glorious day. Later, we ate dinner at a restaurant called Bali Nusa Inda. We love Bali Nusa-- because we honeymooned in Bali and eating that food, chicken satay, Nasi Goreng, Nasi Champur-- it brings everything back. It stirs the fire in the belly and the love in the heart.

Quite schmoopie after our honeymoon revival meal, we walked along the street towards Broadway and managed to catch the attention, and shout out, of another unfamiliar New Yorker. She was a girl, standing by a pole, a twenty-something girl, in a nice raincoat with long hair parted down the center, and she had just put her Blackberry to her ear to make a call, and she watched us approach her. I don't know if it was our vintage eyeglasses that caught her attention-- probably not-- everyone our age in New York City wears vintage eyeglasses... I don't know if it was my wife's Anthropologie skirt, which I bought her for her birthday last year, or the year before-- I don't know if it was my 1950's polyester blazer and skinny tie-- or the way we held each other in post-Bali bliss as we ambled down the sidewalk, but this young woman watched us approaching her and, as we got within inches of her, she put her phone down and said to me, softly, as we passed,

"Oh, my God-- if you two aren't married, please get married. You're adorable together."

And the play was wonderful, too.


  1. The same list applies to the London Underground, but perhaps in a less aggressive manner. My most recent visit resulted in a harmless looking middle aged man in a parka asking me for directions. After l had acted in a socially aware and helpful manner, he asked me whether l would like to see his penis. obviously, l politely declined, and he just said, ' thank you for the directions' and walked away. Thats what you need. Perversion with a hint of decorum. 'Tis the British way.

  2. That was a truly awesome story.

    You know, living in NYC makes me forget the kind of interactions I was used to growing up in Houston. If you walked by people, they would talk to you, even if just to share a compliment.

    It's really awesome to know that that still exists in New York too. I just need to find it.

  3. The reason I find New York so palpably wonderful is simply because it is so unpredictable. Truly anything can happen. And if that means I walk the streets with a little anxiety in my heart, all the better. There's hope mixed in there too.

    Anywho, wanted to tell you that I just passed on the OMB! Award to you because you are super amazing and I am addicted to your blog.

    Swing on by to pick it up!

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  5. Mr. Apron, you gotta take your opportunities to yell in people face's when you can! That's why you thought about it all day. You gotta yell back at them and then all day instead of thinking about what they said, you can think about what YOU said and feel such smug self-satisfaction!

    But, that comment from the NYC girl at the end had to make it all worth it. :)

  6. This may be a sacrilegious comment to leave on this particular blog, but..




    Also, I've never heard of that musical. You're either showing your age, or I'm showing my ignorance.

  7. this is my favorite post.

    and i fear everything you listed when i'm in new york. but the only odd thing that has ever happened to me was when i pee on a street in brooklyn during a snow storm whilst intoxicated. not the intoxicated part, just everything else.

    and i hope i didn't ruin the beauty of your post.

  8. Why, oh why, would you drive into New York City from Philadelphia? NJ Transit, peeps. Or Bolt Bus. Gotta love the fares on the Bolt Bus!

    And New York has far less random crime than Philadelphia. True story.

  9. Aww. That last part made me really happy.


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