How long does it take for something to become a tradition. I’m never quite sure, but going to the theater and then a bite afterwards (lately at the Bar Centrale) has become a Wednesday ritual for the Smith/Burnett’s. The group usually includes, Clare, Jordan, Hannah, Kerry and me. Sometimes there is a Jordan substitute because she gets another offer. That’s not like waiting for a better offer. I’m sure you have friends who are always waiting and hopeful that something better will come along. Those are the people who can never give you a yes or a no when you invite them to join you for an activity. It’s always an answer like, “I have to see”.
What exactly do they have to see? I used to wonder about this. And then after repeated performances I realized that they had to see if there was something more attractive lurking in their future. It took me quite some time (often years) to realize that they were waiting for an option to my company. Which, of course, was almost impossible for me to understand but it was true. For a while I thought, I’m sure it’s not personal. And then I realized, it was very personal, so I stopped inviting them places. Well, I’m happy to report, Jordan is not looking for options. It’s just that our Wednesday night outings are not a priority, so she makes other plans. Let me say, We are grateful that our grown up girls even consider putting us on their list of potentially fun evenings. Maybe it’s about them being together rather than us but that’s OK. Anyway, overall we have a good time, and so do they.
Last week we went to see “Mary Poppins” – the musical. It was not on the list of shows I had to see or die, but I love the music and the spirit so I happily agreed to go. Needless to say, there were a million kids in the theater for an 8pm performance. Broadway theaters are pretty cool about kids. They want them to like the show and to continue to come back well into adulthood. Prices are so high that, at the very least, they want the experience to be positive and long term. They do things like provide pillows for the kids to sit on so they can see. It’s terrific. My kids loved the theater as young children. Granted, they got to sit in the President’s box at the Kennedy Center – which is not exactly like sitting in the balcony of the Shubert—but what mattered was their love of the shows. And what mattered more was that going to the theater wasn’t like going to a movie. They had to behave differently, especially in the President’s box. Seth, even as a kid who could never sit still and who enjoyed participating in whatever was happening on stage, understood that he needed to respect the performance and performers. That meant sitting ‘nicely’ and not talking. And he was very well behaved. After years of ‘the box’, Jordan was surprised the first time we went to a regular theater and sat in regular seats. She couldn’t believe there were people sitting in front of her. But she was so enthralled by what was happening on the stage, it would never have occurred to talk. However, she found it hard, even as a very small child, not to reprimand people who did. She’s like the theater Gestapo. No one in her area is allowed to talk, eat, or breathe loudly. And I think that’s fine. The point is, it was a pleasure to go to the theater, with my kids. And it was a pleasure, not only for me, for all the people sitting around us. (Of course, in the President’s box there is an ante room and a fridge with refreshments, and big comfortable seats—but that’s not the point of my blob.)
What amazes me is the number of people who have no theater manners. They come to the show with little concern for the experience and other people who are often paying $110 a seat. (We never pay full price but we because we’re Jewish and belong to all the discount clubs). But some people have to pay retail. Anyway, there are people who bring food and drink and a total lack of courtesy. I guess they think that because they paid so much for the seat they can do anything they want while they are its’ occupants.
But I digress and you’re not surprised about that. So, last Wednesday we went to see “Mary Poppins” and there were a million little kids whose bed time is probably 8pm. But the interesting thing was that most of the kids were pretty good. It was the parents who were a terrible pain in the ass. They were so excited about sharing the experience that they couldn’t seem to stop talking about it. All we heard were parents asking their children stupid questions like “Did you see that” and “is this your favorite part”, and “remember when we saw the movie? This is different isn’t it?” What exactly did they expect from their children. Did they actually want to have a discussion in the middle of the show? In addition, encouraging conversation during a performance is certainly not a way to teach them any kind of manners or respect for the people on the stage or the people who actually want to listen to what’s happening on the stage. I just wanted to scream, “leave those kids alone and let them enjoy the show!”
When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to control the behavior of every parent in the theater, I calmed down. The show was good, a little darker than the movie, but the talent on the stage was enormous. Afterward we went to the Bar Centrale, which was unusually quiet so we didn’t spend as much time looking for celebs as is our usual routine. The lack of celeb spotting did allow us time for alternative conversation and this revolved around what how Clare and Jordan were going to get to Disney World—on the top of their lists for travel. It must be genetic, because Seth and Joyce went to Disney World for their honeymoon. Anyway, the girls were in tears talking about their affection for the place – the mouse the rides etc. Jordan hasn’t been there since she was five, when on her birthday we took her to the airport and said “Where do you want to go” and thank God she said Disney World, which was the destination for which we had tickets. Clare has been there more recently.
Their passion for going to Orlando was about at the same level—off the charts. And they decided they want to go as soon as Clare is 21 and go together. We figured that meant a continuation of our Wednesday outings, but moved to Orlando—which led to another usual discussion between their mothers. The “What do I owe you for tickets/what do I owe you for dinner” discussion. After about 10 minutes of back and forth, (and ridicule from the girls) Jordan finally said, “You two should get a joint checking account”. It stopped us in our tracks. What a concept. I always hated it when men made fun of us with the “but I only had tuna and you had steak” conversation. Women, at least the ones I know, are very generous about checks and splitting costs. And for that reason, wouldn’t it be great for girlfriends to just pool all their extra income and, instead of sharing accounts with spouses, to share accounts with pals for whatever kind of entertainment they enjoyed. Jordan’s idea was just right. Instead of discussion about who owes what to whom, We all agreed that a joint checking account for friends is a pretty fabulous concept. We’re just sayin....Iris