Sunday, June 30, 2002

I'm posting this from the Newark airport, as I get ready for the next leg of the book tour--Seattle tomorrow, then Portland on Tuesday. I'm really looking forward to this--it's kind of like a homecoming , and though many literary types have warned us all that you can't go home again, I'm resolved to give it a good college try.

Today was outstanding--I had a matinee, which is already a problem in and of itself, as 21 DOG YEARS is not much of a matinee show--it's really more ofa bluesy, late-night kind of a thing. At any rate, it was a matinee, and it was Gay Pride Day--and the Cherry Lane Theatre is actually at the epicenter of gay culture in NYC. The streets were aswarm, and luckily we got started before the massive parade, which apparently starts at 60th Street made its way down to our neck of the woods. Nevertheless, during my performance we had a lot of old people and a few nappers, so when you could hear Cher's anthem "I Believe" playing through the walls of the theatre, it added a certain precious surreality to the proceedings. Matinees attract slow-moving older folks, so I hope they all didn't get nipple-pierced and booty-grabbed on their way back to New Jersey.

This pales in comparison to what happened earlier in the week, when 21 DOG YEARS was host to a marriage proposal. Greg Wong, an old friend of Jean-Michele's from high school moved to the city last year, and when he decided it was time to pop the question, he wanted to do it at our show. It worked splendidly--right after the show, I calmed the crowd down, then read from a piece of paper to find out if "Greg" was in the house. I then asked him a number of pointed questions about his prospects (dim) and his employment (nil), which caused quite a stir--the show being so up front and in your face, everyone assumed this was some kind of bizarre "after dinner treat" where an audience member was humiliated for the pleasure of all. I think everyone was just happy they weren't Greg Wong.

That reversed after I revealed that, knowing what I now knew about Mr. Wong, he'd be a fool not to marry the woman he had with him right now. He said, "That's a good idea," pulled out a ring, dropped to his knee and the audience was both dumbstruck and delighted. So did she--she couldn't stop laughing as she said yes, which I have always taken as a good sign in wedding engagements.

I couldn't top that, so we said goodnight--and long after the rest of the audience had filtered away, the two of them sat in the seats, the post-show music playing, the stage lights still shining, stretching that one moment out and holding it. None of us went inside...we didn't need to. Like mice we cleaned up all around the rest of the theater until we heard from them, and wished them well, and they walked off into a warm summer night like every betrothed couple on this fine planet.

I have performed a lot of shows, and been around the block, but that was some of the finest theater I've had a hand in yet. Thanks to both of you for letting us have a small role in your night.