I sit down in Dillion’s a small long bar, probably a dive bar for those who couldn’t make it into or got thrown out of Studio 54 back in the day, but now a simple wooden floor bar with a seating area for food in back. Yes this is THE Studio 54 from back in the good old days, bought by the Laura Pels Foundation and made into a theater. The girl behind the bar is working like a dog to get the next shift set up, setting up the bar with beers and ice and everything needed for the night shift, but also takes time to make conversation with me and a few other people while she works. Later she tells a guy near me she plans to take a nap and then go out and get drunk, I can’t say I blame her. She wears a fedora on top of long brown hair and has a Roman nose on her soft pointed features which actually works for her and makes her very attractive, (of course about 25 years younger than me and has the pick of the crop when it comes to boys) and a nice body to match. Not a model just a nice package in black slacks and a white top with a sleeveless black vest, a classic look for a pretty girl.
But soon it’s time for me to go so I say my goodbyes, leave a tip and walk the short distance to Studio 54, there is a school group here waiting to get in to the show. These are high school age teens cutting up and talking loudly while we wait to be allowed in to get our seats. I hope they will behave themselve tonight, or I will ask for a refund as I watch the silly boys doing antics to impress girls and weird out teachers, they are of course old enough to know better, I watch only half amused impatient to go in and see the show.
When we do get in after a while, I decide to not pay the high prices for drinks and snacks so I get my seat in the lovely old looking theater. I find that we are hemmed in like sardines in the small seats designed for smaller people from a bygone age, I mean I’m not that tall but there’s no leg room at all! My knees are right up against the seat in front of me, this is why it’s always good to pay extra for better seats and if possible choose an isle seat. However, when it was built in 2003, it was made to be beautiful and reflect the old look from the Golden Age of New York, and it is beautifully decorated inside with fancy carpeting and plush seats, and walls and ceilings decorated like a kings court. The light soon go down and we are reminded to shut off our cell phones, there’s always one idiot who forgets or refuses to do so it seems.
When the curtain is raised, we see Nathan Lane sitting on a rock in an outdoor setting, a strange rocky landscape with a path running through it, with one small leafless tree. He appears to be homeless and is in the process of trying to get shoes off swollen feet, he is in much pain from walking…I can relate. Soon he is joined by Bill Irwin and they are both there waiting for something or someone called Godot. He is a strange mysterious figure who can provide work and or shelter and food, although they never explain how or why, the rest of the time they live by their wits, trying to survive in a hostile environment yet preserve their dignity. The play offers no hope, no glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel as it were, but rather shows the interplay of two men, two friends who while deciding they are better off alone, cannot live without each other. This is easily seen as an Abbot & Costello relationship and the performance of Nathan and Bill puts one in the mind of the old duo from a better time long ago and far away from today’s problems and fears. The addition of John Goodman as Potto; a wealthy looking man being attended by a worn out slave like character who he mistreats, is striking as he provides grist for the mill of the characters as they look for ways to pass the time while they wait for Godot. Days lose all meaning to them and memories are unnecessary, because one day is like another. The play while not uplifting is thought provoking and deep and provides one with a sense of how time should be spent rather than wasted, I leave the theater and wait outside holding my program waiting for an autograph.
But after a while I notice that no barricades are set up and when a couple come along hoping for the same, I wonder if we are in the right place. I see into the lobby and a similar area seems to be open on the other side othe theater which opens out on the other block. Even with my glasses on I can’t see well enough. I mention it to the couple near me who just came along and the husband goes in to check and comes out to inform us that we have to go to the other side of the theater, we are on the wrong block! We all dash off down the block and cut through a parking garage that goes thru to both sides to the theater where black cars are waiting to take the actors home or where ever they go after a show. Just as we arrive on the scene Nathan Lane is signing autographs, I try to get around to him but am told to stay behind the barrier. While he moves to the other side and signs a few and then gets in the black Escalade to leave, not one to be deterred that easily I walk over to the driver as he comes around and holding my program out I say one word “Please” and with a sigh he takes it and I follow him to the drivers side of the Escalade where he gives it to Nathan to sign, I say to Nathan that it was a fantastic performance and he inspired a bunch of high schoolers tonight and he thanks me and they drive off.
I feel a little bad for the young couple but they didn’t move with me just stood there like dummies, they missed out, still I wait with the others avoiding the gaze of the couple if it was coming my way and wait for Bill Irwin to come out, he is very nice and signs for everyone and poses for pictures, I get the chance to tell him that his performance reminds me of Red Skelton and he is quite pleased, and also the whole Abbot and Costello routine and he says he must tell Nathan that the next time they meet before the show. I know I have in my own way helped enourmously and feel good about putting my two cents in, after I help a couple from Boston who want pictures taken of them in front of the lit up sign for the show on the wall next to the exit. But now as I talk to them I realize that my voice is half gone now as the germs from my company have taken firm hold and I am sick, so the only thing to do is to high tail it outta there and get back to Penn Station and get home to bed.
I walk down 8th Ave back downtown, it’s fairly warm now about 60 degrees so I don’t bother witha cab, I mean I know I’m sick so a ten dollar cab ride won’t change a thing. But even when I try to get one after re-thinking my decision, there isn’t one to be had. So I stop in a Duane Reed and get a cold drink and walk the twenty blocks to Penn, with an assortment of drunk college students, tourists, natives who ignore everything, and weekenders like myself going back from whence they came. This is an endless procession of charecters and types, young ethnic men hitting on cool young chics, aging intellectuals walking home from dinner & drinks, couples fussing over over something in Spanish that seems vitally important, and young people who’s only concerm is here and now.
The array of types is amazing here, straight and gay, rich and poor, foreigners and New Yorkers, suburbanites and out of towners all struggling for a bit of fun, a sense of peace, and a claim to space in a crowded urban sprawl. I find myself wearily entering Penn Station from the Amtrack side and have to make my way amidst the crowds and unfortunates looking for change to the LIRR area. I’ve got about 15 minutes to wait for my train so I go to Tracks for a quick Harp before I have to get my train. The beer is cold and crisp, I enjoy every mouthful till I bottoms up, dash off to get my train, more than a little tired but happy to have had my birthday gift to me.
I ride home knowing I will be sicker by tomorrow, but some things are worth getting sick over, I will wait for the next big event to come and enrich my life like this one has. But maybe that is the message of the play, not to Wait for Godot. But rather to grab him and make him give up his secrets! There is no need to wait for Godot because he really doesn’t exist, he is just a metaphor for people to decide for themselves. I can be a leader, I don’t have to wait for Godot or anyone else to succeed. I have spent too many years waiting as it is, I have to knock loudly on opportunities door, I think that now that is what I must do, it’s not going to knock on mine. So I sit on the train and think about the future, what I could make for myself as we rattle along I try to stay awake and think about the possibilities.
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