She’d worked from home on Friday while I was recording music in my basement studio. Evening approached, and with it time to change from casual clothes into something more festive for the season-opening gala concert of a theatre company we support.
The performance was in a big cabaret space that has neither bar nor kitchen. Outside food and drink are permitted–indeed, encouraged. I had hoped to organize some semi-elegant picnic supper for us, but getting the demo recorded took longer than I expected, and time grew short. “Can we get takeout from the Awesome Burger Place?” she asked. We could indeed.
I didn’t think about the possibility of heavy traffic most of the way to the theatre; we arrived just a few minutes before the concert began. Our fries had lost some crispness and the burgers were not as warm as they once were (and, sad to say, hers wasn’t nearly as well-cooked as she’d asked for it to be). The store-made potato chips we’d had as a snack on the way were light, not a bit greasy, and perfectly salted.
Our picnic gear wasn’t especially classy–her wonderful picnic basket is packed deep in a closet while the painter and flooring installers work–but we looked spiffy. The Artistic Director of the company, passing through the lobby on his way backstage, took one look at us walking in and said, “I’ll see you later, sir,” before scooping her up in a mock-lascivious embrace.
Explaining the concert’s theme, the director quoted Jonathan Larson’s Rent: “The opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.” Every performance was delightful, from an Andrews Sisters tribute “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” to a medley of Vietnam-era protest songs in the first act; highlights of the second act included the youngest soloist singing a very sophisticated song about parenthood with clear understanding of her text, and the 75-member cast massing their voices on Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday” and The Lion King’s “Circle of Life.” This was our third night in the theatre in a week, and, easily, our favorite performance of the three.
At intermission, there was a silent auction with a wide array of items for bid. After the concert, we discovered that we’d won tickets to a Broadway show we want to see, a set of piano lessons for her, and a session with a running coach for me. Including dinner, concert tickets, and our winning bids, we still hadn’t spent as much as we would have for a pair of seats at the Broadway show–and we’d supported local theatre and our friends.
Usually we meet for the theatre after work. Getting dressed up for this evening and leaving the house together made it feel like a “real” date. Although this was community theatre, there was a sense of occasion about our evening. It reminded me of my parents going dancing at the Elks club on Saturday nights. I don’t recall how often Mom and Dad had dinner at home before going out, but I’m pretty sure they never walked into a theatre with burgers in a paper sack. On the other hand, maybe I’m remembering it wrong and that was exactly their idea of a good time. It was ours, certainly.