Friday, May 10, 2002

The morning after...and what a night it was! I have never been inundated in so many flowers in my life--it was like attending my own funeral when I got to the dressing room, only it wasn't wasn't as grim as that. People were dressed up and looking good, which is something I associate with big show openings, but it was eerie to step back a moment and realize that it was our little show that was doing the opening and creating all this hubub.

I have rarely been as nervous before performing the show, which was odd since doing the show has been second-nature to me for weeks...hell, months and years at this point. But last night everything was different because it was an *opening*, which made it simultaneously easier and more challenging due to the fact that two hundred people were there to be supportive and to celebrate the long trip we've been on. I'm used to audiences who are there to be entertained--these folks brought the entertainment with them, and the energy ricocheted off the walls.

When I stepped out on stage and the lights came up people immediately started applauding...and that's weird, as I had done nothing except stand still. But I learned a long time ago that the audience is always right, and if watching a large man stand silently on stage is what makes them happy on this one night, God bless them.

Then I performed the show, and it was like working with a really big puppy--the audience was so happy and enthusiastic I had to calm them down from time to time to keep the puppy from knocking me down. It was like nothing I've ever experienced, and I'm so grateful that I got a real opening's very special.

After the show the producers gave gifts to Jean-Michele and I. She was given an exquisite signed, first-edition bound play by Edna St. Vincent Millay...the racy poet who founded the Cherry Lane Theater where we are performing. It is a beautiful, beautiful book.

And for my part, the producers gave me the most indulgent, perfect gift I have ever received: you can find it here. I could never buy this for myself, especially the large one--and even better, it's engraved with the opening night's date on the back. I can't wait to have an excuse to sit on the subway and listen to music.

Then there was the opening party, which was an extraordinarily fun affair--people were ready to throw down and have a good time. Highlights I can remember this morning through the haze include:

---Listening to Allan Mawhiney, an old friend of my father's, debate at length with Larissa, a wonderful Russian artist. Larissa has a tendency to take extreme positions, and so does Al, so they ended up fighting over the nature of American Bees versus Russian Bees. I mean, really getting into it, complete with threats, insults and long, colorful descriptions of each other's heritage. It ended in a draw.

---Introducing my father to my editor, who told my dad, "I am very happy with the progeny you have sired." I felt like a prize-winning dog.

---After hours of shaking hands and not eating anything, Al suddenly produced giant subs that he brought from Providence for us, and they were one of the best unexpected meals I've ever had. The East Coast does sandwiches right. After a lot of canapes, what you really need is roast beef.

---Learning that my publicist at Simon and Schuster can't say no to parties, drinking and staying up late, which raised her stock considerably in my eyes. I just wish she was traveling with me on the book tour.

---Watching Jean-Michele in rare form--she belted back a lot of drinks and then began arm wrestling every woman in the room who would have at her. People kept beating her, and as she was beaten she would uluate and shout in a psychotic, Katherine the Great voice,


Then she danced on top of a table, flashed lucky boys (and girls) glimpses of her undergarments and generally tore up the place. I don't know what others look for in a wife, but I found everything I could ever want in mine.

Good times, good times.