Towards the end of the first act, a man in the orchestra called out that a woman in the audience was sick. The two actresses on stage first hesitantly continued their lines, then paused in a sort of tableau. Someone else yelled for the house lights. We were sitting in the front mezzanine and I could see the woman, an older woman sitting in the third row, center. She was sitting with her head tipped back, apparently unconscious. Her glasses were big and reflected like beacons. The row around her cleared out and she was lifted out of her seat, carried to the aisle, and laid on the floor. One of the actresses grabbed the other by the hands and, in character, ran off the stage. The curtain came down. Someone yelled that an ambulance was on the way, someone yelled to give the woman space. A Little Night Music is playing at the Walter Kerr, which is about two blocks from a firehouse. A team of FDNY EMTs arrived, kneeled around her, and gave her oxygen. I wanted to see that she was all right but I was terrified to look; it seemed crass to have any curiosity at all. Most of the mezzanine seemed to agree with me. We were quiet, and we stayed in our seats. A few people peered over the rail and reported to the rest of us. “She’s conscious. She’s moving around.” At that news, the women behind me started Monday morning quarterbacking. “Why didn’t someone call for a doctor? You’d think there’d be at least one doctor here.” The ushers next to me whispered to each other. One asked the other if they should be keeping us in our seats. The other didn’t answer for awhile, then she called out for us all to remain in our seats.
From my seat I could best see the people in the orchestra who were watching what was going on. I watched them watching her. The people who had been sitting nearby her were huddled close together in the aisle, near the edge of the stage, clutching Playbills and coats. We were hushed but not silent. Wouldn’t silence have been worse? People whispered. A few people left to use the bathroom. We were in a space together that was now strange. In between scenes, and suspended, and scared. Before help arrived and we were all waiting for help together. Once help arrived we were all waiting for news. They carried the woman out and there was applause, first tentative and then strong, like the reverse of when they wheel an injured athlete off the field. Once the woman was out the doors, conversation got louder. People re-arranged themselves in their seats. I said to my friends if anyone took that woman’s seat I would kill them. I did not really think through my word choice. An announcement came over the house speakers saying that the show would begin again momentarily, and, “We wish our fellow patron well.” Then the show started again, and we all laughed a little too loud at the first joke, and by the time they sang “Every Day a Little Death,” we were all trying to forget.
On the train ride home I tried to imagine being the one who made the call to 911. I imagined being the only one who could. I imagined knowing the address of the theater by heart (I do). I imagined in what order I would give the necessary information. I imagined them telling me that help was on the way. I imagined saying, a woman in the audience is sick and we’re all waiting for you to come help us.
So I’ve got this watch. I bought it from a reputable dealer. Let’s say three weeks ago. I get this watch and I wear it around a bit and I notice that sometimes it runs slow. Or maybe I just don’t know how to set a goddamn watch, right? So I reset it a few times. And it runs slow. And I reset it. And it runs slow. And I reset it. And it runs fast? All of a sudden? Then I get frustrated and leave it on my dresser for four days. Where it runs fine. Great. I take it back to the store and I say the words, This watch makes me feel insane. The manager gives me a replacement watch, no problem. Doesn’t even need to see the receipt. Great. I walk out into the night air. I feel fucking fantastic. At least until the next day when I’m warming a seat at McManus, drinking gin and screaming about Wayne Gretzky’s deep internal sadnesses, and I look at my watch and realize it’s goddamn off. Like ten minutes off. I am so beside myself about this, I don’t even know what I say but I know there’s cursing and I probably say “WHY ME” and my friend’s boyfriend, like, takes the watch from me and resets it with this very kind look on his face, he’s got a ridiculously killer watch himself and I’m thinking, if this reset goes wrong then there’s just no hope. At this point it’s got to be that I suddenly have a magnet in my wrist, right? Or am I just at a place in my life when I need to not know what time it is?
By the next morning the watch was off again. So what. I guess I go back to the store. I guess I demand something new. Only what are they exactly going to do with the fact that now I just don’t trust time anymore? Can I tell them that, can they fix that, is it printed on the back of the receipt somewhere? What words do I use, exactly? I don’t trust your records, your maps, your systematic oppression of time travel! Existence is an absence! A bare wrist means freedom! My mind is heavy with discontent and I am sick of pulling out my cell phone all the time, just to know whether or not I am on track to be my signature half an hour early for everything! I mean how am I supposed to time six slow walks around the block crossed with one long loiter in Duane Reade?
What I’m saying is, first person to get me a sundial in a little red wagon is a true hero.
If a person, place or idea of importance - living, dead or somewhere in between - knocked upon your door and asked you to write something about them - biography, story, poem, etc. - in as many sentences as letters in their name - entire or just first or last - who would that person/place/idea be, what would be the work you created for them, and what beverage and snack would you offer them while you wrote?
Ugh, can we just get these softballs out of the way?
the idea of my perception of the real life dead person Alexander Hamilton, as he has existed for me since I first crushed upon him, circa 1999, while in the longest McDonald’s drive-thru line, holding a $10 bill and dreaming of the Regents
demanding a fictional biography with two truths obscured by typos
gotta be a Shamrock Shake, ‘cause of the memories
Though I am not sure I would tolerate such a demanding houseguest, despite how real our love.
You can decorate your house with any three pieces of art. One each for the living room, the bedroom, and bathroom. What artworks do you choose for each room, and why?
The definition of 'art' here is as broad or as narrow as you prefer.
I’m excited about this question because it’s fun to imagine that I have a living room.
In the living room, the perfect screenprinted poster. The perfect screenprinted poster is printed on the most perfect paper with the most perfect inks. It is perfectly framed and has no thumbtack holes from prior engagements with prior walls. It is probably a little abstract, and a little funny, and it probably references a band or a television program, but if it’s the latter it’s in a gently obscure way. People who come over for epic snack parties often find that they cannot stop looking at it throughout the night, and sometimes my drunkest guests will be found speaking directly to it. I purchased it directly from the artist, and it did not take six hours of wandering Flatstock to discover it. We found each other right away.
In the bedroom, a curio cabinet. A good one, with drawers and also glass and shelves and windows. It is filled but not stuffed. Some things seem suspiciously valuable. It is functional and mysterious. It might hang on the wall, or it might be freestanding. It depends.
In the bathroom, something magic. Like a bobby pin, or a tiny screwdriver. And I knew it was magic but I dropped it in there once, and I can’t find it, and every so often I clean the bathroom really well thinking I’ll find it, but I never do because it fell between two tiles and one of the contractors from last summer caulked over it, thinking he was being generous, since that wasn’t even on the work order.
if your life were a blank page, who/what would be your pen?
Oh wow that was quick! My first question, yes, nice, okay. I’m ready for this, so. Are you ready, you should ask yourself! Before reading on.
Probably if my life was a blank page I would be all, “WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THE LAST TWENTY SEVEN YEARS I THOUGHT FOR SURE WE WOULD BE TOGETHER & & & FOREVER, DON’T LEAVE ME HERE WITH ONLY MY BROKEN, HALF-ASSED MEMORIES…you SWINE!”
And then beyond that, I’m not sure. I can only imagine things would get more Beckett, or potentially more Pinter, and either way by the end of the first day I’d be in the corner sorting corn chips into piles I’d call “friendly,” “dangerous,” and “faithless.”
So lately in the mornings I’ve been eating oatmeal. From the company cafeteria. And I guarantee that my relationship with our company cafeteria is infinitely more complicated than anyone’s relationship with any cafeteria needs to be. Always, it seems, I am angry at it. But always, it seems also, I am loyal. We are like siblings who call each other every day just to fight. The company cafeteria is stubborn; it cannot be moved nor can it be fetishized. I will never have a spin-off foodblog about it, and that foodblog will never be called Midtown Grill Station. Midtown What The Hell’s Going On At the Main Course Station Today It Smells Like Burnt Cilantro Pudding.
Every so often the cafeteria performs an act so hateful that I am moved to respond via Comment Card. I actually do this enough that I have repeatedly, jokingly, drawn my coworkers’ attention to this habit of mine, as though to divert them from the sadness inherent in my actions. I have even gone so far as to offer my coworkers “tips” on writing “more effective comments,” even though to date the only comment card of mine to be acted upon was about two years ago when I complained that there weren’t enough flavors of Vitamin Water available, and how exactly was I meant to take responsibility for my own nutrition when they were right there on the second floor, come on.
More often my comments are on the topic of the cafeteria’s clear distaste for me and my people, the vegetarians who cannot be sated by daily servings of cold tofu from the salad bar. I try to be specific. I do not want to go around dithering about needing “more options.” Asking for options does not create change. So instead I limit myself to critique. WHO DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO EAT DRIED-OUT BAKED TOFU COVERED IN TOMATO SAUCE, I might write, or, ARUGULA IN A SPINACH WRAP DRIPPING WITH OLIVE OIL IS NOT A VALID SANDWICH, or, STOP STACKING THREE UNDERCOOKED VEGETABLES TOGETHER AND CALLING IT A ‘TERRINE.’ I am raising awareness.
Sometimes, comments are answered. Not mine. Not ever mine. But others. There is a bulletin board updated about four or five times a year, and on this bulletin board are tacked the comments of my fellow yawpers. Stapled to each comment is a typed response from management. The responses are often misspelled, but they are kind. Seeing the responses usually makes me feel bad. For several bulletin board’s worth of updates, one commenter harangued the management to post calorie counts. After two typed responses gently explaining that the cafeteria was neither obligated nor properly staffed to do so, the commenter finally snapped, writing, SURELY YOUR COMPANY MUST HAVE A TRAVELING NUTRITIONIST. A traveling nutritionist! What fun. But: Not at this time, said the response. Not at this time.
Anyways so lately I’ve been eating oatmeal, and it has thus far been difficult to find anything bad to say about it, except that it’s hard to ladle it into the cups provided and that’s not really their fault, is it, that’s the fault of my own early morning fine motor skills and then you get to thinking, is any of this really their fault, I mean, aren’t they doing their best under the circumstances, and if I really have such a problem with it isn’t there plenty of falafel in a lunch break’s walk, and is it really their fault that in the middle of the day when I come for lunch that actually most of the time the issue is that I’m all knotted up about something completely unrelated to their undercooked vegetable burgers and if eating their food is such a burden then why don’t I just finally become one of those people that arranges tiny little lunches in tiny little compartments in tiny little suitcase with like animals carved out of leftover quinoa cakes or whatever and then who photographs the whole situation for the Internet and then who also actually gets home and immediately cleans out those compartments so that they are ready to be refilled again right away like the circle of fricking life and if I did that maybe just maybe just finally maybe I’d be able to you know make something of myself.
AHHHHHHHHHHH YOU GUYS AKA I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVEN’T LISTENED TO THIS JAM MORE FREQUENTLY SINCE THAT TIME FROM LIKE 2000-2002 WHEN I LIKED TO TURN UP THE SPEAKERS WHOA LOUD AND BLAST SOME FEELINGS!!!!!!
ah god it’s so LONG and I love every g.d. emotive second.
LOL my college GPA is THE MOST INFLATED suck it Princeton I got one B my entire college career because I went to a LIBERAL ARTS SEMINAR SCHOOL but check me out I have a job and at least 1.5 “careers.”
Also my transcript is hilarious because the longest and most amazing course names are truncated so you can see that I earned an A in a class mysteriously called Through The Crack’d Looking Gl WHAT COULD IT MEAN only the Shadow knows.
HA HA HA HA HA Princeton had to spend money on sending a letter out with every transcript EXPLAINING THEIR POLICY and then that didn’t even work so they had to create a “question and answer booklet”?? AHAHAHAHA $$$$$
Also probably the budget for those q&a booklets was freed up after they canceled a class for freshman year students called PRIVILEGE: WHY YOU HAVE IT, NO KIDDING, ESPECIALLY IF YOU THINK YOU DON’T 101
"A Princeton G.P.A. is different from the G.P.A. at the College of New Jersey down the road." Actually I think whoever sent that meant it to be punctuated, "A Princeton G.P.A. is different from the G.P.A. at The College of New Jersey Down The Road, am I right? b/c of how like whatever State Schools and Community Colleges/Jails are FOR LOSERS ONLY haha."
"I wanted to give 10 of you A’s, but because of the policy, I could only give five A’s." LIE.
I spent a summer at a thing that was hosted at Princeton and while there I went to a community theater production of She Loves Me, by myself, because I was the most amazing sixteen-year-old ever.