New York WeddiMoon: Days 6 & 7
… In which we become convinced that live theatre is what’s missing in people’s lives (in ours at least).
Yesterday was Hump Day, and Yr Faithful Correspondent missed an installment. He knows, and is sorry. On the other hand, he was plumb tuckered out from having fun and absorbing culture. And is there a worse kind of tuckered out in the world? You know there isn’t, possums.
In brief, Wednesday’s adventures unfolded almost entirely in mid-town. We started out looking at a lot of buildings and admiring their architecture. I did my best to be game, but the truth of the matter is that I find looking at Manhattan architecture to be a lot like looking at Swedes. They’re tall, made of sturdy materials, and are apparently nearly indestructible. But do you really want to spend an entire morning staring at them?
Things picked up for me during the lottery for Kinky Boots, held right outside the doors of the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. It was actually a complete hoot, thanks in part to the charming little theatre muffin who collected names and conducted the lottery. And then it reminded me of something else I used to know about New Yorkers but had forgotten until the lottery.
In New York, you’re in competition for everything — from space on the sidewalk to a seat on the subway and from there, of course, to the important things like jobs and an apartment where the bathroom floor doesn’t feature a hole that looks down into the Greek deli below or the super isn’t a Russian mobster who’s using the entire upper storey for his white slavery operation.
But most of that competition is hidden, unexpressed, and unfair (when it isn’t downright sleazy). When the competition is raw and out in the open, though, the way it was for the ticket lottery, New Yorkers actually relax and become good sports. The rules are clear, the game doesn’t appear to be rigged, and everyone has the same chance. There’s no one to bribe or push out of the way, and it doesn’t matter how expensive your suit is or whose place in the Hamptons you use during August. So a good time can be had by all.
That said, a disproportionate number of tickets were won by Israelis, so I’m happy to believe in the International Zionist Conspiracy.
Thursday’s activities were organized around a long bike ride in Central Park. Now, I’ve been to CP many, many times, quite a few of them in the daylight, but riding a bike through the Park is something else entirely. Since the whole circuit takes surprisingly little time, you’ve got plenty of opportunities to wander off and find little waterfalls that actually burble or exquisite bridges or tracts of real forest in the middle of Manhattan. I never knew there were so many birds in CP, for example, and of so many different species. I found the chubby, gregarious robins especially winning.
But my favorite stop was the Bethesda Angel, located on a gorgeous terrace in the middle of a charming fountain. Above, if you climb the stairs, is an elegant tree-lined promenade that has a deeply European feel to it. Today, the promenade was full of buskers, including a guy who had found a way to make soap bubbles that were ten feet long. The Bethesda Angel, by the way, is the Angels in America angel and NOT the Ransom angel, as I actually heard some philistine remark.
The evening was Wicked, and yesterday was Kinky Boots, and tomorrow is Buyer and Cellar, and rediscovering live theatre feels like coming across an old, dear friend who hasn’t changed a bit. In line for Kinky Boots, we talked to a guy — a kid, it hardly seems necessary to say — who had seen and could talk intelligently about just about every show in town. That’s ‘cuz he spends every extra dollar and just about all his free time playing ticket lotteries or standing in line for rush (and, of course, going to the theatre).
He made me rethink that old saying about waste and the young. That guy’s youth was blazing like a bonfire, and you couldn’t help but catch a little warmth standing next to him.