Sunday, February 3, 2008

Dumb Things To Do

I did a dumb thing. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Clever, in fact, but perhaps all bad ideas sound clever at first.

I was tooling around the internet, looking up information about the actors in the Seafarer. (Unfortunately the obsession has been slow to die). To Larry, I refer to these guys as my five thespian boyfriends. He sighs at this, as he is a man of infinite patience. 

So, one of these guys did a little interview with some Broadway website. Yep, this is what kind of publicity stage actors get--if they're lucky. Some intern from a website asks how thrilled you are to be here, and you pretty much have to say that you're really, really thrilled, over and over again and then they write it up in seven paragraphs. I guess the reporter must have spent a lot of time trying to nuance this thrill, not only his ongoing present thrill at being on Broadway but the thrill he must surely have experienced in even greater intensity the very first time he was on Broadway seven years ago for Stones in His Pockets. The actor in question went along gamely with all this, it seems, going so far as to say that one of the fun things about being on Broadway back then was going bowling on Thursday nights after the show.

Um, what? A Broadway bowling league? Wait a second, I thought. I'm a sportswriter. I can pitch this. And I did, without thinking it through. Off went the instant email to the producer of the show I work for sometimes. It came back in 20 minutes, some kind of record. Yep, we want it. Tooled around the internet for another five minutes looking for an email address of someone connected to the league. Fired off another email. Do you mind having a radio reporter around one night? It came back instantly. No problem. Come on down.

For five days I was insufferable. Don't say obsession never yielded anything good, I said to Larry, if only to watch him suck in his cheeks and do his little head shake. The Stones in His Pockets guy is putting money in my pockets. More head shakes.

Hotel reservations, train reservations made. All well and good. Then I sent off a last-minute email to the co-commissioner of this bowling league. Can you tell me which teams to focus on? I don't know the Broadway shows. Only have seen the Seafarer. The email came back: Oh, they've got a team this year. I'll check with the cast, see if they're willing to chat. Check the website for other team names and cast member names.

The bottom dropped out of my stomach. I checked the website. The cast in question was well represented. Too well. Hello, Mr. Star-Crush, Mr. Actor-I've-Long-Admired. No. No. No. No. No. I ran downstairs where Larry was watching Scrubs. He's always watching Scrubs, so he's easy to find. "I can't go," I said. "I can't talk to him. I can't even look at him."

Larry glanced at me and then back to the TV. "You're pathetic," he said. Oh, absolutely. This is a  known fact. Tell me something useful.

"People hate reporters," I said. "I can't be a reporter." It's true. People do hate reporters, especially at events like this. We're the gate crashers; the utterly uninvited. A reporter is a tolerable nuisance, a fly to be swatted away. Sure, there is a kind of social fluidity at play here. I can talk to anyone at this event, but only about one thing, about bowling. This is my fate, to stand in his presence, if I can do it without throwing up, and ask about bowling and only bowling.

The only other option, the A+++ professionalism award-winning option, is to ignore them all. Big blank space in the middle of the room. That means, get on the train, ride for four hours, check into a hotel, show up at the event at 11p.m. and interview absolutely everyone else in the room, but not him. Not any of them. Not a single glance in their direction, wherever that might be. Can't do it.

Apparently, the end of this little rant coincided with a commercial break on Scrubs, because Larry rallied with advice. 

"You could say, 'My husband and I saw the play, and we really liked it.' You could say that much." 

"No. That's completely personal, and irrelevant." And fannish, and creepy and wrong.

"There's nothing wrong with being nice," said Larry. 

"Right. To which he would say, 'Who gives a sh*t what you think. Who the hell asked you?' " 

"Right," said Larry. "This is how sane people usually respond to compliments." I looked at him pleadingly.

"OK," said Larry, looking very serious. "What you should say is, 'My husband, who is six feet two and 230 pounds of twisted steel, took me to see the play. We really liked it.' "

"My husband who looks like Clooney?" I offered.

"But taller," said Larry. (It's true. The morning after we saw the play in NYC, we went out for breakfast. A man with long, thin hair and John Lennon glasses stared at Larry so hard, watched us all the way to the table. After we sat down, I said through clenched teeth, "What's that guy looking at?" Larry said, "He thinks he sees Clooney." To which I said, "Yeah? Clooney wishes he had your shoulders.")

This wasn't my only problem. "I can't do it." 

"You can say it after, after the interview."  That wasn't the point. The point was that the interview, if it happened, would be perfunctory, like any exchange of its kind. Over in a flash and meaningless.

Larry had one more question. "Do you really have to go tomorrow? If you wait a week, I'll go with you." I told him my contact wouldn't be there the next week. The following week is Valentine's day, and after that, I'm teaching on Thursdays. Truthful statements all, but they sounded like lies. Larry looked at me. He took a long gaze and said, "Well, then you better go."

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