Sunday, September 23, 2018

But the World Goes Round

It's hard to leave the beach on a gorgeous, sunny afternoon.

Beau and I did our final beach walk, spotting more than a few sandpipers in search of their fling. If we have accomplished nothing else this week while lounging about, it was researching and learning the plural names for birds. Sandpipers are what started it and someone guessed their group name would a be a "flute," which isn't all that far from a "fling."

At various times, we learned about a scurry of squirrels, an unkindness of ravens and a stand of flamingos, but my favorite remains the fling. For obvious reasons.

I took the longest possible outdoor shower I could manage, knowing I won't be soaping up outside with a view of the sky and the sound of the waves for some time to come.

After bidding goodbye to Pru, Beau and Queen B, I made my way up the beach road toward home. "Prayers for down south," read a heartfelt sign on the Nags Head pier. Another hurricane reminder was the sign on the Quality Inn in Kill Devil Hills, proclaiming, "Very open."

Further  up Route 158, I passed a sign advertising an upcoming event: "Boggin' for Boobies." Talk about knowing your audience.

Around the time I crossed the Virginia state line, the beautiful sunny day I'd left behind on the beach gave way to a gray and cloudy sky that made it a lot easier to keep driving north. No one wants to leave the beach during prime time, least of all me.

Driving past the Disputanta Baptist Church, I saw their sign calling to my people; "Women's Empowerment Seminar 9/29" and wondered what kinds of things would be taught at such a thing and if I didn't already know them all anyway.

And then I was back in the city again. And much as I'm a city person, it's always a tough transition away from the constant sound of the surf and the mesmerizing attraction of watching the ocean. In J-Ward, it was business as usual.

For me, that meant a change of clothes and a walk over to the Basement to see TheatreLAB's production of "Significant Other." As you might imagine, the subject called to me.

My seat was in the front row, next to the theater critic I seem to run into just about every time I see a play. I laughed when he asked if I'd ever acted - there were a couple of amateur films made by a  friend in college, but all they did was prove I have no acting talent - but was surprised when he said he had. Apparently he'd only given it up to study journalism in college. The things you learn when you're elbow to elbow.

Grownups live alone.
I keep forgetting we're grown up now.

The play told the story of a group of friends, one guy and three women, as they navigate adulthood and find mates.

At the center of the action is Jordan, played by Deejay Gray, who is not having nearly the good luck at finding his forever person as his girlfriends are. He's about to turn 30 and is convinced it's not going to happen to him ever.

You know, because he's so old.

And if ever anyone was born to play this role, it was Deejay, who managed to convey the frustration of being supportive because your friends are happy while beginning to give up on your own possibilities and fearing a life alone. Because if anyone can play sweet, earnest and sad, it's him.

Life is finding someone to go through it with.

What struck me about the story was how premature Jordan's reaction was. I'd say a person is incredibly lucky if they manage to find their life partner as early as 30. Realistically, many of us aren't even formed enough to know who we are at that age, much less be ready to take on the responsibilities of a live-in relationship.

He's also Jewish, so we can talk about our Moms and it's not weird.

Al three of the female leads nailed their characters. Always impressive no matter what the role, Kelsey Cordrey as Laura shone as Jordan's best friend and partner in single life. As Vanessa, Jessi Johnson walked the line between being a negative Nancy and reveling in finding an adoring partner. Mallory Keene as Kiki embodied the ditzy, "it's all about me" persona, always in a tight dress and the highest of heels.

You know I'm not a happy person. I like foreign films.

Matt Polson and Dan Cimo (his way of saying "Hey, girl!" every time he saw Jordan was a guaranteed laugh) each managed to make their three different male characters distinct from each other. Honestly, I've never seen Dan without being impressed with how he owns his time on stage every single outing.

If I had to come back from the beach, having such a well-directed production to come home to made my landing a whole lot softer.

Mingling after the show, I overheard a man talking about how sad the play made him with its unresolved ending. I talked to a favorite artistic director who admitted that the Jordan character had been him 4 1/2 years ago, before he met his true love and they had their first dog-child. I reminded him that some of us took far longer to achieve half that.

The final part of my return to city life was right in the same place I'd just enjoyed the play. The Ghostlight Afterparty, recently resurrected after a hiatus of several years, is essentially a piano bar with a roomful of actors and audience members busily drinking and socializing while anyone who wanted to could get up and sing a song to piano accompaniment. And when no one was drunk enough ready to sing, he played alone.

When he began playing "All That Jazz" from "Chicago," a woman took to the floor to dance a part she'd probably danced before. Soon after, he began playing "Seasons of Love" from "Rent" and half the room was singing along.

But it was when the incomparable Debra Wagoner approached the mic to sing "And the World Goes Round" that the magic really began. She warned the room that she was doing a slow, bluesy number so they'd have to listen and when many kept talking as she sang, she yelled, "Shut the f*ck up!" and some of them did.

Afterward, someone stood up and scolded the talkers for having the nerve to gab through Debra's singing. telling them nothing they were saying sounded a fraction as good as what was coming out of her mouth. Truth.

You gotta love the Ghostlight Afterparty because no one holds back. Also, there's a whole lot of drinking, so people often forget their manners. But you know when the pianist began playing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," it got people's attention.

Some time around midnight, my combination beach and city day was enough to send me home through the streets of Jackson Ward - admiring the Pride flags hanging in J Kogi's window - and to my own bed for the first time in a week.

Flings of sandpipers may be in my rear-view window, but that's okay. At least I've checked "find my significant other" off my to-do list. That it happened decades past 30 should be reassuring to the Jordans of the world.

Don't stop believin', kids. Life really is about finding someone to go through it with. Dog-children optional.

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