August 15, 2005

The caret and the shtick

Friday night I went to see a one-woman show about life as a Conde Nast copy editor, "Elements of Style". There were a couple slow bits (mainly one character -- a snobby features editor -- that I thought was overdrawn to the point where the character was stepping on her own jokes), but overall it was quite good (and pleasantly there-go-I-grace-of-God-or-no), with one clear highlight, when the daughter of the main character read a spoken-word piece called "I Am Not Your Hyphen". Hilarious. I also loved that the table holding all the props and costume pieces doubled as the "free table", the place where promotional items sent to magazines go up for grabs. (Oh the treasures I have gotten from the free table! I wasn't quick enough for "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell", but that just means I must be more vigilant in the future!)

It was not a foregone conclusion that I would get into the show. I went with my friends Apollinaire and Alexandra; Apollinaire was reviewing the show, and Alexandra was her plus one. So they had tickets, but I didn't, and the show was sold out. I went along to the theater nonetheless, in case there ended up being extra seats. The ticket saleswoman said that if there were still seats available when the show was about to start, they would go ahead and sell those seats at the last minute, so I bided my time in the lobby while everyone else was seated.

It was, naturally, in my interest that people not show up to pick up their tickets, so I was very attuned to the arrival of extra audience members. A couple arrived at about 8:40 (the show was scheduled to start at 8:45), about 10 minutes after I got there. They had not bought tickets in advance, and were told that the show was sold out, and then there was a conference, held in an intense, clearly audible whisper: "What do you want to do? Do you want to buy tickets for another night?" "But we know so-and-so! Maybe she can get us in." So they asked about so-and-so's whereabouts and were told she had already gone into the theater. They asked if they could go in to see her "just to say hello." Uh-huh. The ticket saleswoman relented, they went into the audience area, and were met at the door by so-and-so. I distantly heard an apologetic-sounding murmur in which I could make out something like "Yeah, it's totally sold out." The couple left. I was pleased.

Then at about 8:48 (yes, a few minutes after the show was already supposed to have started, but shows never start on time), four horrible women arrived. They also had not bought tickets in advance, and immediately got all entitled when they were told it was sold out. "Well, we tried to buy tickets, and everyone told us we could only buy tickets 15 minutes before the show!"

"Well, you can buy tickets in advance online up to 24 hours before the show, or you can buy them at the Fringe box office, and then, yes, after that you can only buy them at the theater, if any are still available. But the show's been sold out for a while, and there are people who have been here for 20 minutes who are waiting for seats, so...."

"But we talked to so many people and they all told us different things, and it was very confusing! And what box office are you talking about? We didn't see any 'box office' listed on the website!"

"Oh, you didn't? Well, that should definitely be there. We'll look into that."

"I hope so, because the website is very unclear!" and on and on and on, and it was obvious their subtext was, "Look, we deserve tickets, and we are not accustomed to not getting things our way, and can't you see it hurts us to not get our way? It hurts us, and you should give us tickets." A couple sitting across from me (who were also waiting to see if there were open seats) were quite obviously rolling their eyes, and the female of the couple was making either a playing-the-violin-it-is-so-sad or a slitting-my-wrist-with-a-postcard gesture, I wasn't sure which, but it was funny either way. We all shared a glance of "Christ, these people are awful. Don't they know that even if there were seats available, this poor woman hates them and would pull random people in off the street before she sold tickets to them?" Oh, we knew what was up.

The thing that finally broke me was when one of the horrible women said, "Well, I mean, yes, we could have bought tickets online, but you know there's a service charge. I mean, I wasn't going to pay a service charge for a fringe show." I couldn't take it anymore. I loudly announced to no one in particular, "Well, I mean, of course not! It's a fringe show! Why would you do such a thing for a FRINGE show? It's not like it's a real show!"

They quickly decamped as the six of us waiting for tickets busted up with laughter. And then some seats became available; two people with Fringe passes went in first, and I knew that the violin-playing-or-wrist-slitting couple had been there before me, so they took the two seats left that were together, and that left two of us, and I wasn't sure which of us had arrived first, but the other fellow said that I had, and I thought, wow, we are all very polite and nice and grownup, aren't we! We are like a living rebuke to those horrible people. Yay for us!

Posted by Francis at 12:42 AM

Goddamnit, Francis! You are funny. I did indeed receive a copy of Holy Tango for my birthday this morning, and every page makes me snicker. I wasn't sure you could top T.S. Eliot's "Toilets" right at the beginning, but the haiku! The Islamic owls! The...the...everything.

I look forward to seeing the above blurb on the back cover of your next book, under "praise for Francis Heaney's previous book."

So sweet of you to mention Rose's sexual prowess in the preface! Most authors neglect to do that, and it's shameful, really shameful.

And don't think I didn't notice your Roman numeral system, you sneaky bastard.

Posted by: Orange at August 15, 2005 07:30 PM

Wow, I really shut everyone up, huh?

Posted by: Orange at August 16, 2005 11:31 AM

Well, I mean, what's left to say after that? My commenters have excellent netiquette skills and don't post endless strings of "Me too!" and "I agree!" comments, appropriate though they might be after such effusive praise of me.

Posted by: Francis at August 16, 2005 11:35 AM

Ooo, me too! I agree!
Seriously, I could be your English agent - I have bought a great big stash of Holy Tango which I am giving to all of my friends and relatives for their birthdays.
Please could you write a new book for next year's presents.

Posted by: Poppy at August 17, 2005 10:59 AM

Actually, I think Francis might get a bit leery if other authors started praising Rose's sexual prowess in their books. I could be wrong, though.

Posted by: Tortoise at August 18, 2005 09:00 PM

Well, they wouldn't be wrong. And it might not mean what you think; it could just be that they have installed secret spycams in our bedroom.

Posted by: Francis at August 18, 2005 09:04 PM

And that's not something to be leery about? I guess you are significantly less uptight than I would be in such a situation.

Or maybe they'd just be basing their appraisal on your preface. In that case, I hope they include a proper MLA citation. Because the only thing worse than other authors sleeping with your wife or installing secret spycams in your bedroom is PLAGIARISM. Yup.

Posted by: Tortoise at August 18, 2005 09:58 PM
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