I look at the clock on the dashboard as I collapse into the stifling heat of my car.
5:12PM. If I hit the lights right, if traffic allows, if I can find parking... I just might make it to a 5:30PM show downtown.
I had just finished emceeing a corporate event for the good people of General Mills at the Nicollet Island Pavilion. Tattoos covered, hair pulled up, sensible shoes, and a conservative skirt. All my careful dress being shed or exchanged for something more comfortable in the car, as I sweat and struggled among office-workers and eager bicyclists to get to 5th & Hennepin before they close the box office.
And behold! At 5:23PM a space within spitting distance of the front doors opens up before me. I consult the signs - indeed it is legal and available.
‘What luck,” I think as I plug the meter and head inside.
‘I am seriously getting the hang of this,’ I smile as I head up to the 8th floor - The Illusion Theater.
‘Everything is going my way,’ I giggle as I even have time to snag a beer from concessions on my way to my seat. ‘Hot damn.’
Something seemed amiss as soon as I entered the theater.
Where are the Bananas? ...this doesn’t look fun at all.
I knew immediately what I had done. In my rush, and then self-congratulatory glow, I had entered the wrong theater - there are three in the building - the lights dimmed and - stuck - for better or worse.
I had been aiming for ‘Yelling at Bananas at Whole Foods’ a solo show from an out-of-towner about ethical eating. It looked silly and fun.
What I entered was 'A Gentle Spirit’. The show had no program, nor was it on my radar before I accidentally stumbled in - I didn’t even know the title - so the first several minutes were a bit of a puzzle. In hindsight, reading up on it after I walked out in a cloud of darkness and depression, it makes sense. It was a retelling of a Dostoyevsky short-story.
I hate Dostoyevsky. Maybe it’s because I have some light in my soul and a remote belief in the goodness of humanity. Maybe it’s because Crime and Punishment was the most painful literary experience of my life... Maybe I just don’t like Russians.
The show, to be fair, is exactly what people who like Dostoyevsky are looking for. Long (one hour became four, don’t know how), slow, dark, painful, and meandering. I read the reviews when I got out - and found out the title and... well, everything I should have known going in. The people seem to like it.
Which is great.
My initial plan was to get to ‘A Certain Age’ at Huge Theater for the 7PM show. Once in the neighborhood, a friend told me (and then the internet confirmed) that the show was already sold-out. No problem. Another show on my list ‘Standing on the Hollow’ at Intermedia Arts, was starting at the same time.
Finally, I knew what was happening.
Tamara Ober and Julie Johnson, the dancer and flutist respectively, were a part of The All-Star Variety Show Bonanza that I produce at the Bryant Lake Bowl. I don’t dance and the only time I see dance is at the Fringe; but I’m a good audience for it, I think.
I don’t have the vocabulary so I say things like, ‘when the flow-y bit went underwater and then it got all jerk-y; I was like... whoa.’
As the full house was exiting the theater, I was still searching for a way to describe what I had just seen:
'...like an emotional seizure...' No.
'...made me feel sympathy-breathiness...' No, Dawn, dumb.
And then I noticed the lobby was packed, no one had left - a wall of water poured on the other side of the exit doors. A deluge had started during the show and was at a fever pitch at the exact moment we were to go to our cars.
When the sky finally cleared, and I got into my car, the last nail in the coffin of today’s lesson was hammered in: I had left my sunroof tilted open and there were little puddles on each seat, the dash dripping, the cup holders full.
The lesson, I determined, was this: Sometimes you’re just not as good at life when you’re on your own.
A wingman in an instant would have caught my stumble into the wrong theater. Another set of eyes to drink in the dance piece could have helped me find words for it, would have elevated the experience, certainly. And even if a plus-one had not caught the sun-roof situation, at least I’d have a wet butt AND someone to laugh about it with.
Where the hell is Paul de Cordova when you need him?