“You got a date?” she asked me, eyes dripping concern. Ticket in hand, in the lobby, I tried and failed to catch the middle-aged blue-hair’s drift.
See, I’d signed up for Culture. Two-hundred-fifty shekels I didn’t have, spent for what I assumed would be Shakespeare. Anyone else would’ve made the same mistake. ‘Much Ado: 2010’ then just a list of venues and times. On-line. And here I was at the proper time and place, ‘Hechal Ha Tarbut Netanya, 8:00 PM’ but having to answer a slightly improper question from left field.
“No, I’m all alone.” I told her, all mock-pathetic. The ‘mock’ must’ve been a hair too meek, too ‘under-the-top’, I thought when she put her hand on my shoulder and said “Don’t feel bad, we’re here to support you”.
Duh. I need support to watch a play? And where’s the scenery?? And why was she wearing that big hemlock stickpin??? Oh well, culture is all about questions, no?
But the usher kept up the date-fetish, asking/ telling me “If you have a date you can sit in the front.”
I sat in the back. A good thing, as I needed less than ten minutes to realize that the ‘date’ referred to was for my presumed planned assisted suicide(!) Not that the ‘Hemlocks’ would, god-forbid, lock me into it, should I have late-hour-last-minute-second-thoughts. In the dark, squirming already in my seat next to a very bald woman with a really runny nose, I managed to read the name of the event: ‘Much ado about ‘adieu’.
Clever. Comedic, even. At least they’d gotten that part right. The speaker was in the ‘Hello!‘ of his Power-point, ‘the ettiquite of farewell parties’ awaiting his next click on the remote when I siezed the moment to bid farewell. “You say hello, but I say goodbye…” ran through my head as I ran through the lobby and out the door. I’d never felt more alive.
Hmm, I glanced at my phone, ‘if I hurry I can get to the real play.’ The address was unfamiliar but at least I knew the street name. Getting closer I recognized the place, a once-upscale restaurant on Smilanski. Probably making ado these days with dinner-theatre, I thought, over the sound of my stomach grumbling. And yes, the smell of food did hit me as I opened the door.
“Have a date,” a blue-haired apron-clad-woman demanded, holding out a plate. At least I didn’t feel date-less.
“We’re starting from the beginning.” she informed me. I liked that. Hate tuning in when it’s already Act III and half the throw-away characters are already dead. I took a bite of the date, wondering if ‘Take two; they’re small’ would be impertinent.
“We’re mixing the dough up there on the right. Why don’t you join them.” she kinda pushed me in the right direction. Or wrong. ‘Why don’t I join them?’ ;that was indeed the question, and I soon had my answer: Yes, I was again in the wrong place. “Much ado about Dough” read the cloth banner, and beneath it “Tonight: Date-bread!”. I grabbed two more dates with reckless abandon on my way out, holding my phone to my ear in a attempt to radiate ‘he’s just gotten an emergency call!’. No need to admit failure in public.
On the street, with ‘So we don’t get fooled again’ running in my head, I found a street-light and checked the fine print. Hmm, three more ‘showings‘ tonight. Now which one should I choose?
“You have a date?” I was used to the question by now, even coming from a blue-hair this time done up in a bee-hive I’d thought had gone extinct since ’66.
“Why do you ask?” I felt combative.
“Well, most of the guests come with a date. You know, considering the program.” she said, nicely enough.
“What, you think I’ll suffer too much, watching Claudio smooching it up with Hero and me here oh all alone, no date, just a palm.?” I thought that was funny. Literate, despite the risque touch. Hell, the Bard wrote lots of worse stuff.
‘Beehive’ didn’t get it.
“It’s ok if you just want to watch.”, she agreed, in an earnest and decidedly single entendre.
“Thank you, Ma’am” I told her and walked down the hallway. The smell of the crowd and the roar of the grease-paint grew stronger with every step. No, wait, I know that smell? Not grease-paint. Don’t tell me. Air-conditioner? No, hair-conditioner. Yes. I should have known.
This time I didn’t even need to read the cardboard sign. ‘Much ado about a ‘do’. I felt suddenly sad and bald. Remembered asking my barber once if there was anything ‘interesting’ I could do with my hair. He pretended to think a few seconds before saying ‘No’. ‘Well, at least a straight answer’ I thought as I went back to stare-straight-ahead mode. At any rate, I was yet again in the wrong place at the right time. Oh, maybe one of the hired-gun barbers there might want to do my locks up as a.. As a wasp’s nest?
I scrolled through the remaining Los Much-ados without much hope. Three strikes and you’re usually out, right? Anyway, the play’s the thing and I’d already missed half of it, if it even existed? Teach me to support the Arts.
Blue-hair II was stapling up a sign in front of the restaurant when I passed by on the way back to my car. ‘Next week: Much ado about Nutmeg’ I gave her a despondent yet spice-laden look. Even though it wasn’t her fault I can’t read.
Too late, I found the whole thing laid out on the web-site when I got home. One simple click I hadn’t noticed. Oh well. There’s always tomorrow. ‘Much ado about a Doe: A feminist look at Bambi‘; Open University, Ra’anana, 8:30 PM. I’ll find a date when I get there. ‘You like deer; I like deer; Let’s hug.’
Just for Art’s sake,
Wu: This is fiction, right?
Me: Yeah, Wu. Just like Moby Dick. It never really happened
Wu: Glad you cleared that up. But you shoulda called it “To Be (or not to be) Stoopid”
Me: Cute. You wanna write the next piece?