Friday, February 25, 2005

Day in Boston: The Destination

Back at my old college, to see an old friend in a show. This was the point of the day.

Outside, it all looks the same. Same trees, same buildings.

The kids are different. First of all, they’re kids. I feel (and look, I am sure) so old around them. Inside the “Fishbowl” that became “The Colonel's Coffee House” is now something entirely different. I don’t think it has a name. It’s just a big, red room with a massive flat screen TV. What is up with those funky chairs? Some sort of bizarre modern art pieces? These kids must think I’m insane...laughing at plastic chairs.

Part of me really wants to go back to my old dorm room. To knock on the door, ask the child who inhabits it if I can come in. Does the window still make those horrendous rattling noises when the wind blows. Is it still always boiling hot in the warm weather and frigid in the cold? Does she go out onto the flat roof of the parlor below with her friends and their beach towels? We’d sunbathe outside my window and “study” (no one can study outside on a pretty day). Stacey’s security guard boyfriend saw us from the top of another building.

“You’re not supposed to be up there! Guys, I could get in trouble...”

“Please don’t tell! Please? Pleeeeease?”

Would you say no to six college girls in bathing suits?

Now I am back in the theater building. There are different names on the doors. Everything is repainted. Why is there is a baby grand piano in the guy’s dressing room?

The old theater assistant's office looks the same. There are more posters on the walls. "The Crucible" is right above the's right above a desk, let's just leave it at that. I have to run my fingers over the text. "Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Directed by...".

Neal is still around. He is so excited to see me, he’s taking me backstage, to the places where I felt more at home than when I was with my own parents. The picture of Adlai Stevenson with lipstick kisses all over it is gone. The music they are listening too is different. We’d listen to Susan Tedeschi and Chet Baker and Cake and The Commodores. What the hell is this? Some pop station? In the makeup room? The makeup room is for swing or disco or something loud!

Neal introduces me to one of the new kids. Good old Neal, he’s so thrilled. “This is...” he says my name with enthusiasm, like I’m some Tony winner. Like I'm someone they should know.

The kid has no clue who I am. He smiles, though. “Oh. It’s really nice to meet you.” he says, and I can tell he’s mentally scanning the photos and playbills of past shows, trying to figure out who the hell he’s talking to. Neal looks astounded that my name hasn't caused a gasp in him. Not a flicker of thrill. Sorry, Neal, I'm a ghost to this boy.

“It’s okay,” I say, shaking the young actor's hand. “you don’t have to know me, I’m old.”


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