What a strange day in a strange week…
It all started over the Christmas break when I had a bit of free time and two kids who were eager for their free time to be filled with fun stuff. With my son, it was easy. We built Legos together and I made incredible progress in my effort to read to him the Chronicles of Narnia. We’ve had great fun and we’re now on the fifth book. With my daughter it’s a little harder. She seems to be obsessed with different things, girl things, little girl things. As I am a full-grown man I find it harder to relate. Do you know how hard it is to fit a 6’2″ jacked frame (had to throw that in there) into a seat at a tea party when the chair is barely off the ground?
So during one of my many trips to the library to return one Narnia book and pick up another I came across a DVD of the Lucille Ball classic movie-musical Mame. It’s got singing. It’s got dancing. It’s got elegant costumes. It’s got drinking and sauce and spice and Bea freakin’ Arthur. I checked it out, brought it home, and made a movie night of it. And thank God I was right. My little girl loved it – especially Bea Arthur. The next day she said to me: “Daddy, my favorite was Mame’s best friend, the one who talked like a man.”
In fact it was a lot of fun. We even checked out the non-musical, earlier version starring Rosalind Russell – Auntie Mame and watched that.
The thing is that we’ve also been dealing with Dad’s death. I don’t mean that we’ve been going through stages of grief or that we had anything to occupy our time regarding planning his funeral or calling insurance policies in. No, we found ourselves driving from Dallas to Newark and back inside of a week. It was in the car that we actually watched Auntie Mame. Sure beat looking at Arkansas (although it is a remarkably pretty state).
Tonight, as a surprise to me my daughter had given me tickets for the both of us to see a concert version of Mame at the lrving Arts Center, our local playhouse. Normally I don’t mention real names in this blog but this deserves a mention. She was so excited. This morning she woke up and proclaimed it “Mame Day”. I, too, was excited. My sweetheart has become my theater buddy. Since I no longer live a stone’s throw from Manhattan and since my wife is more into movie theaters than Broadway houses I relish that my daughter enjoys accompanying her old man to a show here and there. And we have lots of fun. Usually during intermission I buy her some souvenir from the lobby and myself a drink.
And then came the downer of the day. Sweetheart got sick. She actually didn’t want to tell us she wasn’t feeling well for fear she’d miss the show. We noticed, though, and called her out on it. My well-intentioned wife asked me if the theater might be able to switch our tickets to another performance. Knowing how these things work I knew it would be a fool’s errand but I had to at least try for my baby. Since the box office was already closed for business I decided to drive across town.
Along the ride I thought of my dad. He enjoyed the theater. More importantly he would do anything for his girls. They looked up to him and he simply adored them. I found myself talking to him. “Dad, help me out her… I can’t disappoint my little girl.”
I parked, walked into the lobby, and went to the will-call window. To the older gentleman behind the counter I said:
“My wife bought our seven year-old daughter and me tickets to tonight’s performance. Unfortunately she’s crying her eyes out at home right now because she’s sick. Any chance we might be able to possibly transfer these tickets to a different night?”
I said this with a bit of breathlessness because I really didn’t believe he’d do it.
Well… not only did he do it but he did it with such kindness and decency! He even gave us better seats!
You can’t convince me my father had nothing to do with that.
I turned to the man and said “You know, in New York this NEVER would have happened.” He looked at me. “We do things a little different around here. I have a daughter myself.” And I’m glad they do.
The rest of the night may have been spent cleaning up after a sick child in a bathroom but we were pretty happy about it. My dad came through. My daughter thinks I’m a hero. And for Mame Dennis, it will still be today tomorrow.
I also have some tales of working out and such but I’ll posts them soon.