Lame Adventure 323: One of Those Days

As I have mentioned in earlier tales, I like to volunteer usher off-Broadway plays.  In return for my services I get to see theater for free. My most recent ushering gig was for a musical at a respected off-Broadway playhouse.  The audience was replete with jerks.  It would be easy to blame the heat and humidity but this theater’s temperature is set twelve months of the year at Freeze Your Ass Off level.

Approximately ten minutes before curtain a male-female senior citizen couple that looked like they held post-graduate degrees in the Department of Equally Unattractive Toads approached.  They were either married forever or siblings.

Me:  May I see your tickets please?

Senior Citizen Man:  Go fuck yourself.

He brushed past me followed by her and they headed straight for two front row seats.  I resisted the urge to croak like a frog.

Cute lizard since I don’t have a shot of an ugly toad in my library.

Soon after it was discovered that a seat with a number belonging to a woman with a ticket had been double-booked and removed to accommodate a wheelchair bound chap.  She was understandably perplexed.  The House Manager offered to relocate her to an empty seat next to two elderly gay men, but they pitched such a fit it gave the impression that he had suggested she sit on them rather than next to them.  He repeatedly tried to explain the situation but they were livid.

Often, it’s usual to commiserate with co-ushers about audience members with the social skills of tree stumps, but I was coincidentally working with a mute, gum-chewing middle aged guy devoid of any signs of possessing a personality gene.  If the chemistry between us could be illustrated, it would be a flat line.  In fairness, maybe he had just quit smoking and was chewing nicotine gum.

My co-usher as shown in the animal kingdom.

The House Manager had instructed us to stand in front of the stage during intermission because the footlights were highly calibrated and very sensitive.  If touched they could go instantly out of whack.  He instructed my co-usher and I to stand watch at opposite sides of the stage.  As soon as we reach the stage I see a morbidly obese man leaning on my side of the stage.  I think:

Me (thinking):  The portrait of the story of my life.

I approach the man:

Me:  Sir, theater management has requested no leaning against the stage.

Man:  Why?

Me (what I want to say):  Why?  Because your BMI is a liability, and we don’t want the lights knocked off their axis by your wide load!  That’s why!

Me (what I say):  The lights are computer controlled and any contact with them risks nullifying their highly sensitive calibration.

He moves.

Meanwhile my gum-chewing co-usher is staring into space possibly fantasizing about lighting up.  He’s completely oblivious to the three women on his side of the stage parked against it.  I approach the women and ask them to move.  They do.  My co-usher extinguishes his imaginary Marlboro.  I give him the stink eye.  Upon seeing me return to my station the three women resume leaning on the stage, but this time Dudley Do-nothing finally takes his mind off his chewing and tells them to scram.

As intermission is ending a woman asks me:

Woman:  How much longer is this?

This, a sure sign that she hates the show, but I’m not too keen on it, either.  Maybe I should ask her for her number?  Possibly she lives in digs with air conditioning?  I repress my inner pimp and remain professional:

Me:  An hour.

She’s visibly upset but resists telling me off.

After the show, my co-ushers and I do a quick sweep of the theater. Fifteen minutes later, I bolt, grateful that this annoying gig is over. I zig and zag through the dense crowd filling 42nd Street to my uptown subway.  Even though I’m subject to a three-minute wait and the platform is hotter than the Sahara, I can still feel the residual chill from the Arctic-like temperature in the theater.  I don’t feel like I could collapse from heat stroke with a thud.  The express train pulls into the station.  It’s not terribly crowded and although I could grab a seat, I let other passengers do so instead.  I only have to travel one stop.  Life is good!

Free as this butterfly!

My thoughts return to my favorite sports, eating and sleeping. I absently move my right foot. It feels glued to the car’s floor.  That’s when I realize that I’m standing on a huge, soft sticky wad of gum.  It was definitely one of those days.

It smelled like spearmint.

32 responses to “Lame Adventure 323: One of Those Days

  1. Gee- sounds like a really swell night experiencing the range of the animal kingdom. Sorry to hear about the gum. I wonder what form of creature left that?!


  2. Surprised that there are soooo many turd balls coming to off-Broadway. I meant the audience, not the productions. Then again you’ve also been paired with a couple of winners in the volunteer ushering world.


    • Good observation. The personable fellow ushers don’t make LA. I only usher matinee performances — highly frequented by usually docile seniors that earned an A in deportment in their youth.


  3. Sp funny! I love these where you have and internal conversation and an external one. Poor gum-chewing void of personality slug. I was surprised he uttered a sound. Sounds like a wonderful crowd!
    BTW- What would you do if someone refused to move from their front row seat? or is that another blog post…. 🙂


    • If someone was hogging any seat that wasn’t theirs, and refused to move, I’d so what any veteran volunteer usher would do, I’d squeal like a pig to the House Manager about it. I once ushered a show where a chap behaved like a total dick. He jumped all over me wanting curtain delayed until his friend who was running late would arrive. The House Manager barked, “That’s not gonna happen. If your friend doesn’t get here too bad. You can stay or you can go.” The friend never showed and the whiner stayed — and shut up.


  4. Love the recurrent gum image and all the stunning stickiness it evokes. This was one of your funniest posts in while. If I weren’t so sick with a cold, I’d be laughing out loud.

    Reminds me of the children’s book, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” Alexander supposes he’ll move to Australia. Perhaps, Down Under is also where you’d feel at home right now.



    • Interesting suggestion – I do adore koala bears! Maybe I’ll move down under if Mittens wins in November. Change it up from always threatening to move to Canada during the W years. Sorry to hear that you have a cold. I hope your sore shoulder is almost healed.


  5. My blood pressure is now sky-high after reading this post. You ask to see tickets and someone says “Go fuck yourself”? I don’t know if I would have been able to restrain myself. And then someone else bitches because someone may have to sit in the seat next to them? What is WRONG with people?


    • It was definitely a hostile crowd yesterday. The geezer that cursed at me was quite a piece of work. If I looked like His Airness Michael Jordan I’m sure he would have shut his trap AND shown his ticket … and might have even said timidly, “Thank you Sir.”


  6. catchy photos!


  7. These are probably some of the same people who spit randomly while walking down the street — usually directly opposite my front porch when I am sitting out there. Anyone for TB?

    I watch people throw their gum, cigarettes, trash around, which, incidentally, all ends of in my flowerbed. Who’s gonna pick that up? Don’t you wonder what their homes look like?


  8. Another superlative lameadvanture, Lameadventure. Gum is one of those leitmotifs like seagull droppings. They are attracted to the really crap days.


  9. Snoring Dog Studio

    You blessed creature. And you volunteer for that abuse? Moments like yours are made for those tiny dart guns that you can fit in your palm and then shoot poisonous darts at people from a distance.


    • I’ve calculated that I’ve seen at least $5k worth of theater for free over the past 3+ years by volunteer ushering. Some of the shows were terrific and even transferred to Broadway (including Once that won the Tony award for Best Musical this year) so it’s generally all upside. It’s rare that I usher a show that’s a dud with an audience that was raised by wolves. Thanks for the poison dart advice buddy!


  10. Ah yes … the joys of ushering at the Theater for the Social Ingrates. Just another example of so many having the “It’s all about me” motto for life. Meanwhile, stay cool!


  11. V,
    Oh.. how I wish I could have been there… I mean, not to laugh at your misfortune – you’re a New Yorker, and you have a temper, and you’re grumpy, and moody, and if you haven’t slept enough before reading this you could even be worse than this disgruntled sarcastic blogger… But.
    Le Clown


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