Alas, my birthday month is just about ended. Huzzah, it is ending with a huge, fantastic bang. I am still recovering from my whirlwind trip to NYC with my near and dear ones which began with a Friday night slumber party and ended with me sleeping most of the day Sunday. But here is a brief tour of the tour, although I will be reviewing the two Broadway shows we saw at greater length in another entry (coming soon).
Friday, April 25
I arrived at Sue and Pat’s house at about 9:30p.m. Good neighbor friends visiting, drinking ensued. Cody arrived around 11:15. Drinking continued for a bit but mostly we were all in bed by midnight after having agreed to rise at 5:30 and who would take their allotted five-minute shower in what order.
Saturday, April 26
5:30a.m. We rose. We coffee-d. We showered. By 6:35 a.m. we were headed for White Marsh and the MegaBus. We stood in line next to a Mother and Daughter from Walkersville on their first trip to the city. They were not seeing shows, which is fine since their idea of good shows had to do with some of my least favorite musicals which, sadly, seem to have huge appeal to the undiscriminating and unwashed masses. At around 8:15 we en-bus and my favorite seats at top of stairs on second level with extra leg-room are open, into which Cody and I lunge, and across the aisle are two more, conveniently, for Sue and Pat.
Noon-ish. We arrived at 28th and 6th. Cody, Sue, Pat and I hot-footed it uptown to a falafel stand near the Algonquin where we scarfed down some scrumptious street-food and then headed into Algonquin for cocktails. I complained bitterly the entire time about what Marriott has done to the Algonquin. Pat suggested I should perhaps shut up or find another place to drink; I suggested he did not know me as well as I thought he did if he thought I would surrender a century of tradition to the Marriott Corporation and suffer the wrath of the ghosts of the Round Table habituees. I sipped my $23 dollar cocktail and Pat let slip that he and Sue had recently patronized ChickFilA. I was appalled. Cody suggested I was sometimes overly dramatic. I suggested he should choke on HIS $23 cocktail and that they all might remember this was MY BIRTHDAY TRIP.
1:45-ish. We meet up with Alison and Andrea outside the Schoenfeld Theatre and prepare to see Jason Robert Brown’s latest musical, The Bridges of Madison County. We are seated, 2 and 2 and 2 in third, fourth, and fifth rows in ridiculously glorious seats gotten by Andrea. Because it is my birthday trip, I am in second row. Because he is defenseless and the sweetest, Cody is stuck sitting with me, the well-known sobber. We open the program to see that the male lead is out and stand-by is in. We worry.
3:00ish. Intermission. The well-known sobber has not disappointed. Nor has the stand-by, Kevin Kern. Nor has Kelli O’Hara, the female lead. well-known sobber suggests another libation. Cody and I each have a $14 glass of wine. The $14 is no doubt due to its being served in a sippy-cup, which I find both fascinating and appalling on many levels but thanks to the residual buzz of the earlier Algonquin cocktail and the re-buzz brought on by shot-gunning the sippy-cup of cheap cabernet, I do not go on at my sometimes over-dramatic length about the issue to Cody.
4:15-4:30ish. The show ends. I am a sobbing, wet-faced, emotionally exhausted wreck of a man. The group is presented with dinner options. While I am a well-known sobber, and at least three of the six of us are well-known control-freaks, all six of us are nearly pathologically incapable of making decisions. I break the mold and say I would really like to eat at Joe Allen’s. We walk the few blocks there and, despite my complete and utter lack of belief in the existence of anything divine, some Divine Intervention occurs and we not only do not have to wait, but the ONE table they have left is a six top.
6:30ish. Dinner has ended. It was delicious. I had three and a half glasses of wine. NOT in sippy-cups. Everyone made me laugh at least once. Everyone made me feel loved over and over again. We headed toward the next theatre. We stopped at a bar. The bar was called Smith’s Bar. Yes, yes it was. Cody bought us a round. I had a large Brooklyn lager.
7:30ish. We got to the Golden Theatre. We took our seats, all of us in a row in the second row for Mothers and Sons. We knew it was a cry-fest. It was decided without rancor but not without some snark that the seating arrangement would involve Cody being on one side of me and Andrea on the other, thus insulating Sue, Alison, and Pat from my sobbing. Cody and I decided to go the bathroom before the show. Sue met us in the theatre basement where a souvenir stand was conveniently located next to a bar. She was buying a t-shirt. While we waited, Cody and I, never ones to waste an opportunity, bought our own souvenirs that looked and tasted suspiciously like tequila shots. (Note to Golden Theatre Bar: Please stock SILVER PATRON, Jose Cuervo is NOT the preferred Tequila of true drinkers- by whom I mean, me and Cody.) We got Sue a wine in a sippy cup because we wanted her to have the experience. Unlike us, she did not shoot it, but, rather, savored it and kept the cup.
9:30ish. The show was over. So was I. Such a moving script. Some really moving performances. And my first time seeing Tyne Daly, live and in person on stage. Alison had sent a note backstage to Bobby Steggert, rising Broadway star and originally from Frederick, worked with and friends with everyone I know although, somehow, he and I never worked together, and other than me being in the audience of a few of his shows in Frederick in those olden days and now, in New York, I don’t think we were ever even in the same room – although we did share a voice teacher and, as I said, tons of friends. In any event, after the show, we stayed long enough for Alison to talk to Mr. Steggert, who I have now met, and who, in addition to being ridiculously talented, is quite erudite, well-bred, and lovely to people hanging at the stage door after shows. Lovely guy at the end of a lovely show nearing the end of a lovely day with my lovely friends.
We went our separate ways, Alison and Andrea heading for the train station since Alison had a sixteen hour work day coming on Sunday, while Sue, Pat, Cody and I headed back to the Algonquin so I could complain some more and have one last $23 cocktail. Which I did. And some rosemary steak fries. Cody had cake.
11:15ish. Cab. To MegaBus stop. Nearly die on way. Alas, there is no bar-cart on street by bus waiting area. Bus arrives. We en-bus at 12:30ish. My favorite seats on second level at top of stairs are available again. Cody and I sit. Sue and Pat choose to ride on level one this time to avoid car-sickness that Pat experienced on ride up from being on wavy-weavy-second level of bus. So, on ride home they experience bumpy, bathroom-smelly ride of first level. Thank goodness there are only two levels as opposed to all of Dante’s circles, right?
Sunday, 5:30am. After the three and a half hour bus ride to White Marsh, and the one hour and change ride from there to Sue and Pat’s, and the twenty-minute drive from Sue and Pat’s to my house, which come at the end of 24 hours of being awake and eight hours or so in vehicles, four hours or so of being in a Broadway theatre, approximately nine alcoholic libations, priceless hours with the best and dearest and most loving, wonderful, perfect collection of friends with whom any one undeserving man has EVER been blessed, I am SMILING – yes, me, the well-known sobber, SMILING about having just had the best birthday ever.
I somehow know that my dear aunt, Sissie, ten years gone now and Queen of all things New York, birthday, and Algonquin, has somehow arranged all this – from the perfect group of friends, to the perfect shows, to the perfect last table at Joe Allen’s, to my favorite seats on the bus (twice) to every other perfect detail-HA! SHE’S THE DIVINE INTERVENTION ABOUT WHICH I WAS TALKING! And I smile one more time, throw off my clothes and drop into bed.
This was, indeed, as one of my friends who shall not be named said to me more than once, a HAPPY FUCKING BIRTHDAY! And all I have to say, to New York, to Broadway, to my dear aunt who taught me all of this, to my dear friends who indulged my birthday wish, and most especially to my dear Andrea who coordinated most everything and channeled Sissie, THREE WORDS.