I saw "The Body of an American"

What I saw: “The Body of an American,” at the newly remodeled Cherry Lane Theater, 38 Commerce Street, in the West Village, NYC

What I wore: favorite black Fluevog Guides, fishnet socks, Hudson jeans that are too long that now have a ripped button on one of the back pockets because I did that the last time I wore them which was when I saw “Prodigal Son,” black t with white polka dots, black open-knit sweater, burn-out velvet scarf that was the gift of a friend in Seattle in the late 90s. 

Mine is the tan car,
stuck behind four yellow cabs,
next to the white bus

What I did beforehand: got stuck in mid-town gridlock and stepped on my prescription sunglasses, the ones I got for Italy

Who went with me: The Bacon Provider, freshly returned from a week of working on the other coast

How I got tickets: Oh, Reader…you knew it would happen. I bought tickets to two shows on the same night this month.  Maybe if I had real-life friends here, I’d have asked around and given them away. But I know like five or eight people in NYC outside of my family. Anyway, I bought more tickets and donated back the originals on the grounds that a small theater like this might put the proceeds to good use. Oh, and if you’d like to tell me how to make friends in Bedhead Hills or NYC when I’m 52 and bitter and currently like really into Schopenhauer, you can comment about that below.

Why I saw this show: I think I got a promotional email suggesting it (and here I am, the one who gets all fucking salty about spam).


Where I sat: last row, in front of the light and sound board, in the brand new, comfortable seats. The guy manning the tech showed up and let out two great, theatrical yawns. I wondered what would happen if I monkeyed with his cables. I’m glad I didn’t; this show has exquisite lighting and visual effects. Normally, I cringe at the recent trend of projecting slides on the backdrop of a play, but in this case the set was designed to look as good without the projections, and the images enhanced rather than distracted. 


Things that were sad: It’s all been about drugs lately, movies, books, plays. 

Things that were funny: I just finished reading Robert Stone’s “Dog Soldiers,” a 70s novel about a journalist in Vietnam who’s pretty lost in his own life and a drug deal gone sideways. My brother recommended it, and I liked the book quite a bit, though when I watched the movie version, “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” I was disgusted by its neutering of the three main characters. Read the book; skip the movie. Anyway, “The Body of an American” is about a journalist who goes to the more recent war-torn corners of the world and is also pretty lost in his own life, and a playwright who wants to write about him because he is also pretty lost in his own life. I completely relate to the theme of a writer lost in his own life: I really do.
There are a few ways to define “funny.”

Things that were not funny: The lighting guy behind me had a tummy ache.

What it is: a play about writers, ghosts, and how life can be scary or seemingly pointless, acted with genuine (and appropriate) restraint by two actors named Michael.

Who should see it: husbands who don’t like the feel-bad family-dysfunction dramas, writers, anyone who just ate dinner at one of the many fine restaurants in the West Village, photojournalists, lovers and haters of snow and/or sand.

What I saw on the way home: I expected to see a certain amount of bad driving on the dark and narrow Saw Mill Parkway late on a Friday night, but I got stuck behind a driver whose foot seemed to have slipped off the gas.  I steered around the unexpectedly slowing car, but when it happened a second time to another driver it seemed like a contagious disease had overtaken drivers all over Westchester. Keep going, people. You can’t stop driving until you arrive someplace.

A Busy Day

Yesterday, around 1:20 p.m. my husband Otto submitted his resignation from Microsoft, effective immediately.  
He texted me at 1:21, but I was having lunch with a couple of former students of mine, and I did not see his message until about 2:10.  It was a one-word message, “Swordfish.”  When I did see it, I burst out laughing (so much for the sneaky glance down at my iPhone). 
At 1:22 p.m., local technology journalist Brier Dudley’s blog post went up. 
At 3:37 p.m., Otto got a text from my brother’s ex-wife saying, “The ex-sister-in-law is always the last to know…” For at least part of the afternoon yesterday, it was the lead story on the Seattle Times online. I feel perfectly terrible thinking about her sitting at her desk at work, opening another browser tab to check the news, and seeing Otto.
Of course, it has been in the works for a while. Otto is leaving a company in which he has invested his last 18 years, and a decision like this came after months of uncertainty.  Until we were absolutely sure it was happening, we had to assume that he would stay at Microsoft and life would continue as before.  
I imagined the outpouring of goodbyes and good wishes from colleagues and former bosses, including a whole bunch of people who left Microsoft a year ago or five years ago. I did not imagine that four or five new articles generated by paraphrasing the original would appear by dinner time.  
The interview with Brier Dudley states “Berkes is leaving for another company outside of the Seattle area but he wouldn’t say which one.” At 5:51 p.m. Tom Krazit of mocoNews.net reported, “He’s leaving to join a Seattle-area startup, according to the Times.” At 6:10, Todd Bishop wrote on GeekWire.com “Berkes plans to work for another company, based in California, but he isn’t saying yet which one.” I am not at liberty to tell you which one of these is true.
His phone burbled with texts through dinner, his email inbox kept refilling, and he was still receiving calls at 10 p.m. At 10:33 p.m., Otto’s most best-known former protégé showed up at our front door with his girlfriend, and we all went out and I watched them drink martinis until last call. 
Our youngest son, who is 13, was baffled by the interruptions to dinner and the article in the local paper. “Why are they making such a big deal about you?”  he asked. “You’re just you.”