I love it when people give me experiences for gifts.
A theater-loving friend who'd seen "Mame" at Virginia Rep gave me two tickets, saying he was eager for me to see it so we could discuss it. I promptly chose to join the blue-hair set at a Wednesday matinee and invited a friend to join me.
Since the theater is only a few blocks from my house, I suggested he meet me here and we'd walk over. "Can we leave a little earlier so I don't have to walk so fast? he e-mailed me.
While that sounds like a typically middle-aged man thing to ask - I've learned that they're rarely as enthusiastic walkers as I am- I let it slide because I knew he'd been sick the past few days. So when I joined him on the sunny front porch, I made sure to set my body to old-man-stroll rather than my usual after-burner speed.
As it turned out, we could have crawled over because the play was delayed due to some casting changes. One of the leads was out with complications of a root canal, so there'd been some shifting of parts. We might see a script in hand (we did).
Waiting for things to get rolling, my friend took the time to chide me for calling him a middle-aged man who ignores his doctor's advice in my last blog post about him. He clarified that he was only ignoring the medical advice for a day, not forever. That old chestnut.
When he asked me what the play was about, I drew on my memory of having seen the movie just last November and summarized it for him. Bohemian inherits nephew and proceeds to school him on how to live life to the max. And since this was a musical version, add in song and dance.
Luckily, he'd brought plenty of cough drops to silence his lung hacking, although most of the raucous song and dance numbers would have easily drowned him out. We were both particularly knocked out by the energy and swagger of "That's How Young I Feel," but maybe there's a reason for that.
How old do you think I am?
Somewhere between 40 and death?
Even a non-fashionable sort such as me had to be impressed with the scads of costume changes throughout. An old timer might say it was the equivalent of watching a Cher show.
Emily Skinner was terrific as Mame but Audra Honaker stole a lot of scenes with her portrayal of the timid nanny Miss Gooch and the siren she becomes under Mame's tutelage.
The scene where Mame visits her beau's plantation in the South provided one of the best lines. When told that the war between the states is over, Mother Burnside replies, "Don't give me any of that Appomattox applesauce!"
Discussing how much we were enjoying the show at intermission, my friend said, "It pays to be Karen's beard." While he didn't mean beard in terms of sexual orientation, he was referring to providing company so I didn't have to go alone, not that I have a problem with that.
But what was really generous was that he told me that he used to feel awkward doing things by himself until he met me five years ago and saw how often I was my own date. After he began venturing out solo, a friend of his followed suit, crediting him for being a great example. He wanted me to have the credit.
Such a nice middle-aged guy.
Not only did he buy us Rolos to share at intermission, but he only asked me to slow down once on the walk home. And now I can't wait to thank the gift-giver with a satisfying conversation about what I just saw.
Life is a banquet but it's unlikely I'll ever starve with friends giving me - and sharing - such enjoyable experiences.
No gift wrapping required.