Posted by: Stella Glass
The week before last was one for the record books. I think I consumed my weight in alcohol and probably got about 19 hours of sleep combined, from Monday through Sunday. My Saturday hangover hung around until almost Tuesday and Monday evening I mandated that no alcohol be consumed for the rest of the week. My boyfriend tried to balk at this but when asked to recall his feelings after waking up on Sunday morning he quietly agreed.
I wasn’t concerned about the Monday-Friday; I reminded myself that I had plenty of shit to do around the house and not being able to go to happy hour or meet people for drinks was a great excuse to get some of that stuff done (it didn’t get done) and I was convinced that it wasn’t something I’d be craving and it really wasn’t. A few more joints were rolled than usual , and with the exception of having two glasses of wine at a Seder (which does not count), I didn’t even really think about alcohol.
The weekend was trickier though and I started stressing about it on, like, Wednesday. “What do grown people do at night on the weekends that doesn’t involve alcohol?” I wondered. This was certainly not a question any of my friends had the answer to; I was on my own for this one.
I thought of the most grown up things I could imagine; the things that, as a child, I thought I’d be doing every night of my adult life: going to cocktail parties, going out to fancy dinners in high heels, drinking champagne on the roof of a building while a crescent-roll shaped moon hung over my head, having sex.
Well, the first three inherently involve alcohol and if we’re honest with ourselves, more often than not, the 4th one does too. So I was fresh out of ideas…or was I?
But the MTA wasn’t! Wednesday afternoon as I took the bone-rattling 2/3 train home from work, sandwiched in between the usual plethora of morbidly obese commuters that that particular subway line attracts, I saw an ad for the Metropolitan Opera.
Yes! It was a revelation! The Opera! Nothing in the world is more grown up and alcohol-free at once, than going to the opera. But, unfortunately, as it turns out, nothing is more prohibitively expensive or unappealing to my boyfriend than going to the Opera, either, so I suggested a play. Not a musical, a play. A cheap one. With tickets purchased on Craigslist.
As has been documented earlier here, theater is not my absolute favorite thing in world. This is a view that my boyfriend thankfully shares. But in an effort to expand our cultural horizons beyond pandora.com, he agreed to to go to the play “just this one time” and I was able to find cheap tickets to Neil LaBute’s “Reasons to Be Pretty” starring that chick from Coyote Ugly.
After smoking a joint and suffering a harrowing, suffocating walk through tourist-glutted Times Square at twilight, we were in our seats. I was optimistic, he was less so. I was convinced that the contemporary bent of the play and it’s focus on issues that are compelling to me (physical beauty and relationship longevity!) would endear the production to me.
Of course, I was wrong.
Lesson Learned: Theater, in any capacity, is not for me. I was entertained, certainly but more for the wrong reasons. I tried to stifle embarrassed laughter during the “intense” parts. My boyfriend and I amused one another during set changes by thinking of the various things we could shout out during the performance that would be bizarre enough to throw seasoned actors off their game and render them speechless. I dared him to take out his ipod and watch an episode of South Park, laughing loudly which he almost did until I chickened out. Then I accidentally dropped a bunch of M&Ms on the floor and let them clatter, loudly down the aisle. In this way, the time passed.
Halfway through the first act I realized that the problem with theater, is theatrics. Yes, it’s true. When I watch a play, I think to myself “must every single sentence, every utterance be delivered with such over-the-top drama?” And each and every time the answer comes back “Yes. It’s theatre.” I cannot tell you whether the play was good or bad cause I don’t even know how to begin to evaluate a production that uses The Arcade Fire as a “back from intermission”musical overture. We got the understudy for the lead female role and I thought she was pretty whack; really over-acting-y and uber-dramatic and gestural, but I guess that’s actually the idea.
This evening, after attempting to coax Aunt Helen out of her cups, I came across this video by the much-adored-by-me St. Vincent. . In the video she tries to get various actors to cry while she herself looks utterly composed and lovely, further highlighting what I feel is often the excruciatingly awkward process of what acting always feels like to me: watching a grown person pretend.