Friday, August 14, 2009
Last night Warren and I went to see Wicked at the Bass Concert Hall. It was awesome-- more on that in my forthcoming review for the Austinist next week. I'm super lucky to be a reviewer because we score all sorts of ridiculously fabulous tickets to events I couldn't otherwise afford. And we usually get extremely rocking seats, which was the case last night. If we were sitting any closer we'd have been forced to don flying monkey costumes. Oh, and prior to the show, we ate Thai food, which was excellent. So you could say that it was a perfect evening.
Then, it got even more spectacular since we had tickets to the cast party afterwards. The spread was beautiful, plentiful and delicious. The drinks were free (I was drinking water, but still...). And then... and then... goddammit why does this always happen to me? Do I have Please Annoy Me! stamped on my forehead or something?
I came back from a trip to the ladies' room to discover two women had joined Warren at the cocktail table we'd been standing at. I said hello and one of them, tipped off by Warren, said to me, "You're writing about this?!" And I said yes, and sort of downplayed it. She proceeded to launch into a nonstop stream of every detail of every performance of the show she'd seen. I saw "Know-It-All" flashing in my head, but I kept a lid on it. Because, even though her delivery was a little bit annoying, she was actually making some interesting points, and she was excited, and I certainly have, I'm sure, also come across as an overzealous know-it-all at times. (Hate to admit that.)
When I was able to squeeze a word in edgewise, I put a question to her. I asked about the green witch's makeup, curious if was actually makeup or some sort of latex suit or a combination. During the show I'd seen a wrinkle here and a seam there and I couldn't figure out if there was a bodysuit or what. This is where it got weird.
The woman looks at me and says, as if to answer, "This is a CAST PARTY!!"
Figuring she misheard my question, I asked again, clarifying I didn't want to know what kind of party it was, but rather the secret to the makeup. She repeated herself, more loudly, and then made her point clear. The cast was standing right behind me and I MUST GO AND ASK THEM!!
For whatever reasons, I get edgy at the thought of going up to actors and musicians post-performance. There's a part of me, of course, that loves the idea that I could be new best friends with every amazing talented person I'm lucky enough to see/hear perform. But a part of me is shy. And another part of me thinks I should just leave them alone because, after all, they just got off work and want to chill. It's not by any stretch the biggest conflict of my life. But when Know-It-All got in my face, DEMANDING that I approach the cast, it pushed some big fat button in me.
At first I said, softly (for me), "Oh I don't want to talk to the cast."
Now she got belligerent, insisting I HAD TO. It was so strange. I felt really creeped out and in a huge hurry to get away from her. Which I did. But it was too late. She'd already soured my mood. And then, ironically, as we were exiting, Warren and I ran into the male lead, a role that happened to be originated by an old friend of mine, a guy I worked with in a pizza parlor in St. Louis twenty years ago. Norbert went on to great things, including a Tony Award for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. From time to time over the years I've tried to track him down, to congratulate him, but no luck.
Anyway, so we say to the guy, "Nice job," and Warren cracks a joke and then I say, "Do you know Norbert?" He didn't but he happened to also be from St. Louis and we chatted a bit and then left. So there-- after my big internal protest, I wound up talking to a cast member. Warren teased me for asking three different people if the knew Norbert. I suppose in my own way, despite my desire to appear cool and unaffected when in a room full of stars, I was dropping hints, like a little kid, that I knew somebody important, too.
This whole thing should've rolled right off of me. For some reason, it didn't. I wrestled with it more than I should've and looked for the trigger. Warren points out that I have more triggers than anyone on the planet and I think maybe he's right. The good part about associating everything with everything else is that I have a great memory and it serves me well as a reporter. The bad part about having such a good memory is that I can look at, say, a chocolate cake, and remember some incident from thirty years ago, some terrible something, that just happened to have a chocolate cake in the background. It's a pretty big pain in the ass to have a brain that works like this, and Warren does have his work cut out for him some days.
As I tried to parse what really got to me about the Know-It-All and the Norbert-teasing, I had two distinct recollections. One occurred a few years ago in an organic corn farm in rural Mexico. Some woman, high as a fucking kite, was demanding-- utterly INSISTING-- that I take peyote. I declined politely at first. Then I was more firm. But she pursued me, got in my face, told me it was spiritual. I really, really, really did not want to harsh her buzz by pointing out that I'm an addict and as such refrain from drugs and alcohol. Finally, someone intervened (and, if I might name drop, I'll say this guy happened to once be the chef for Brad Pitt). I assigned him heroic qualities but it's entirely possible he took the peyote from Pushy Woman just because he wanted it for himself, not because he wanted to rescue me.
The other thing I remembered is that, twenty-four years ago, I had dinner with Michael Stipe. I told everybody. For fucking years. A few years into my Stipe bragging, I had an alleged "best friend" who liked to get on my case for this. I mean, she was a total bitch about it, just really making me feel like an idiot.
Well, Warren saved the night, I must say, leading me across campus to the little turtle pond he'd introduced me to a few months ago. Those little guys are so darn cute that I was actually distracted enough to forget about the Wicked Bitch, at least for a little while.
Posted by Spike Gillespie at 4:17 PM