Yes, that word is indeed free. The one that rhymes with luck is a close second. This is a Lame Adventure that touches on both, free and luck, but first some roundabout way of getting to where we’re going.
The current issue of Time Out New York is emblazoned with a headline screaming: WHY NYC IS THE GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD. There were three sub-headings, too: Best sex shops, Subway film series, and Splashy new seafood. Clearly New York City has it all from sex to film to fish.
The magazine lists 50 facts proving New York City’s superiority ranging from the iconic skyline, to bars that are open until 4 am, to bodega cats. One of my favorite city factoids is “Because New Yorkers live longer than almost anyone else”. Apparently the third oldest person in the country is a New Yorker, 113-year-old Susannah Mushatt Jones. TONY thinks that a factor in the average New York City resident living two years longer than the national average is that the residents here “walk more than other Americans and eat fewer trans fats …”
I was recently walking down West 20th Street in Chelsea en route to volunteer usher an off-Broadway play staged at the Atlantic Theater Company, The Lying Lesson, written by playwright Craig Lucas. In this drama, Carol Kane plays screen legend Bette Davis circa 1981. She travels to a coastal town in Maine for the dual purpose of purchasing a house and to reconnect with a flame from her youth. There are some spot on moments when she rails bitterly about her dead rivals, Joan Crawford and Miriam Hopkins. Carol Kane captures the essence of Davis. It officially opens Wednesday, so that’s when the critics will weigh in.
As I was a block away from the theater, I heard an unseen woman exuberantly scream out the window of an apartment building:
Unseen Woman: I’m in love! I’m in love! I’m in love!
Next, I heard an unseen man scream, with a degree of exuberance to complement the woman’s:
Unseen Man (screaming): Yeah!
I resisted chiming in:
Me: I’m in turmoil! I’m in turmoil! I’m in turmoil!
Actually, I was rather charmed by the mystery woman’s declaration, but I wondered if the man was the woman’s source of joy or just a guy that heard her and was infected with her happiness?
When I checked in at the theater I met my co-usher; a pleasant woman around my own age who was wearing very cool glasses. We did not have to stuff Playbills, so we had time to kill before the house opened. My co-usher observed:
Co-usher: When I first saw you, I thought you were Fran Lebowitz.
I hear that occasionally, even though Fran is almost a decade older than me, makes piles of money, and is a very heavy smoker, so heavy that she advocates for smokers’ rights. In comparison I am a pauper and such a dedicated non-smoker, I hate it when I have to walk behind a smoker on the street, even if that smoker is a sardonic wit who’s been compared to Dorothy Parker. My co-usher, in an effort to play up her powers of lookalike observation added:
Co-usher: On the way here I saw someone that looked just like Johnny Mathis.
Me: Maybe it was Johnny Mathis?
Co-usher: It was a woman.
After the gig I was once again walking on West 20th Street en route to the subway train uptown. There was no more yelling from the rafters about being in love, but I was now feeling pretty good since I enjoy seeing theater for free, something else that I think is terrific about living in New York City. Fortunately, for my continued longevity, I had the capacity to resist blurting at the top of my lungs:
Me: I’m a volunteer usher! I’m a volunteer usher! I’m a volunteer usher!
Screaming that might get me smacked in the kisser with an airborne can of kitchen cleanser. The dense powdery kind. Then I looked down on the sidewalk, and I did have a very pleasant surprise; I saw a crumpled ten-dollar bill.
No one that could have owned it was around, so I pocketed it.
With a spring in my step I entered the 18th Street subway station ten clams heavier only to see the electronic message board announce that all uptown local trains were running with delays. Immediately, my world reverted to normal. I had the opportunity to use my second favorite 4-letter F-word. The one that rhymes with luck.