Tag Archives: jerks

Lame Adventure 460: Jerk Season

Last week was not one of my better weeks, not to imply that anything monumentally terrible happened, but if a week could be an object, last week would have been a constant pebble in my sneaker. Every subway ride into The Grind, and most rides out, were densely crowded. I had backpacks in my face.

If only I could have wet sneezed on cue.

If only I could heavily sneeze on cue.

An arrogant woman simply sit her name brand hand bag on me.

This bag was so completely on top of me the woman standing at my left and the one sitting at my right were annoyed.

So close I could have bitten into it.

At work, in a moment of sky-high frustration, I asked The Boss, Elspeth:

Me: Where’s The Departmental Knife?

I wanted to slice a pear. She looked befuddled as if I had asked:

Me: Where’s The Departmental Lawnmower?

We have a single communal serrated knife in the entire Design department. It’s about 65-years-old and once belonged to Elspeth’s mother. We’re minimalists when it comes to flatware. I found it sitting on a desk. My palpitations subsided.

Found: one departmental serrated dinner knife.

Found: one departmental serrated dinner knife perfect for slicing pears.

But the most exasperating aspect of last week was that my colleague, Godsend, was completely flattened by the flu. With Godsend missing in action, I had to fill in and run errands that included visiting the Third Circle of Hell, a.k.a. the Canal Street Post Office. This is a dreary, puke pink colored building staffed by some of the most miserable malcontents in New York City.

Puke pink entrance to Third Circle of Hell.

Puke pink entrance to Third Circle of Hell.

Last month, The Boss had us purchase six coils of 34-cent stamps for a postcard mailing. I warned Godsend that these misanthropes might give her a hard time.

What greets you inside the Third Circle of Hell.

Low tech greeting inside the Third Circle of Hell.

Me: They’re so incompetent they might not even know what you’re asking for. Or they might only have three coils and they’ll load you up with 300 more stamps in sheets, or to be asswipes, 600 loose stamps. Prepare for anything. They’re jerks.

Godsend went out, armed with $205 in cash. Twenty minutes later she returned with six coils of 34-cent stamps, one paper dollar in change (as opposed to 55 pennies, seven nickels and a dime) and proclaimed:

Godsend: They were nice!

In the weeks that followed we had to do a massive catalogue mailing. After we sent the catalogues in bulk, we started mailing them piecemeal. In those cases, a member of our accounting staff applied postage from the company meter to the package and Godsend hightailed over to the Canal Street Post Office where she made the drop off and got a tracking number. Every time when she returned she announced:

Godsend: They were nice!

With Godsend out sick, I had to run this errand. That’s when I meet Clerk 03, a sour woman about my own age. I have three pre-posted catalogues. She barks:

Clerk 03: What do you want?

Me: I want to send these packages Priority and I need tracking numbers. They’re all pre-posted.

She looks at the first package, shoves it back at me and sneers:

Clerk 03: You gotta take this back to wherever you came from.

Me: What’s the matter?

Clerk 03: Look at the date. It’s not today. You gotta re-post it with a zero, zero, zero, zero, zero meter strip from where you came from. I can’t help you with that.

The meter strip is indeed dated the day before. I also know that we sent out over 200 of these packages with meter strips dated the day before. They were all accepted without question and apparently whenever Godsend dropped them off, she was always greeted with a big wet kiss. I instinctively hate Clerk 03’s guts, but I know that this petty bureaucrat is setting me up. She is itching for a fight.

Me (calmly): Is it really necessary that I walk all the way back to my office?

Another Clerk interjects:

Another Clerk: You can mail it. Drop it in the box over there. We’ll give you a Priority sticker.

Clerk 03 shoots laser beams out of her eyes at Another Clerk and throws a Priority sticker at me. I hand her my next package. This infuriates her.

Clerk 03: Don’t you get it that I can’t be bothered with that if it’s dated yesterday?

Me: These other two are dated today.

Clerk 03: You better be right about that.

I was, but what if I was mistaken? Was she going to have me taken in the back and executed?  She gave me the tracking numbers I needed without more guff. Before leaving her window, she urged me to take a survey about my visit. It took all of my power of self-control to mute what I was thinking:

Me: I will enthusiastically award your service five middle fingers.

On Friday, spring arrived. Of course, it snowed. Even Mother Nature’s a jerk.

In like a lion.

First night of spring: in like a lion.

Lame Adventure 434: Encounters with Heroes and Orifices on the Street in the City

Back in the day, when I was a relatively young buck-ette barely into my thirties I was gainlessly employed as a wage slave in broadcast news. One of my more memorable colleagues during those years of indentured servitude was Ernestine Frobish*. Ernestine was a classic jaded New Yorker, sixteen years my senior. Not many people called Ernestine her first name. She was Frobish. Her natural disposition was sour, but once you got to know her, she was pleasant and witty. Every so often she would share a pearl of Froboshian wisdom. My favorite gem:

Frobish: If someone’s an asshole at seven, odds are good they’ll be an asshole at seventy.

Hold onto that pearl.

Fast forward to the present, about a week ago. After I’m cut loose from The Grind, located in Tribeca, I hightail over to the East Village where I’m meeting my bud, Milton, to see an off-Broadway play.

Makers of Ambien beware: Ingmar Bergman's masterpiece reimagined as a 3 1/2 hour play.

Makers of Ambien beware: Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece reimagined as a 3 1/2 hour play.

Whether I take the subway or hotfoot my way east, it will take the same amount of time to reach the theater. It was an off day from my spin bike riding. I welcomed power walking through rush hour pedestrian traffic.

I am so fleet of foot!

I am so fleet of foot!

As I am deftly weaving my way through the throng, I make unintentional shoulder contact with a woman thirty-five years my junior and thirty-five pounds my senior. The g-force of the impact is so significant I bounce off her. I am  airborne. My feet are off the ground. I am one with the pigeons!

"Dream on sister, you're not one of us."

“Dream on sister, you’re not one of us.”

Alas, I am not of avian descent. The street is packed with stores, all with plate glass windows that will shatter if a human flies into one at warp speed — my exact destiny. Fortunately, instead of crash landing through a storefront and marring both the display and my facial structure, two millennials of Japanese descent come to my rescue. This miracle couple catches me ensuring that I make a soft landing on my feet as opposed to a thunderously loud and very painful Fred Flintstone-style imprint though exploding glass. The woman who made the initial contact with my shoulder apologizes profusely. I, in turn, thank my saviors. It was a very civil and polite exchange to an event that lasted seconds, felt surreal and ended happily for all involved.

Ten minutes later, I join Milton completely forgetting about my flying episode moments earlier. I am fixated on his blue wristband, a wristband needed to gain entry into the theater, matching his blue water bottle cap. Life proceeds as usual.

Color coordinated Milton.

Color coordinated Milton.

On Sunday, there was the People’s Climate March. It was heavily promoted on the subway, in the news and even on trees in my neighborhood.

Upper West Side tree doing its part for the Peoples Climate March.

Upper West Side tree doing its part for the People’s Climate March.

I wanted to participate as a show of support because I believe that global warming is an even greater threat to human survival than terrorism. On the other hand, if I were held hostage and about to be decapitated, I would revise that thinking in a nanosecond. I had an ushering gig on PCM day so I could not participate in the march. The play I ushered was Bootycandy, an outrageous assembly of skits about being black and gay. I enjoyed that ushering gig immensely. And I felt guilty about that considering that the planet is dying.

The theater, Playwrights Horizons, is located on 42nd Street, which was directly along the route of the march. Times Square is always crowded, but it was even more crowded with an additional 310,000 people marching in the middle of it.

People and puppets marching.

People and puppets marching.

I knew that 42nd Street would be a zoo so I left my sanctum sanctorum earlier than usual. After exiting the subway, I walked down the busy avenue at half-speed, consciously avoiding bouncing off any oncoming shoulders or tripping over tots in strollers. As I passed a seemingly innocuous woman about my age, over fifty and under death, walking with a man, probably her husband, she gave me the hairy eyeball.

Seemingly Innocuous Woman: Look at her! Where does she think she’s going, that [insert c-bomb]!

She called me the word that rhymes with punt. I didn’t make contact with her, but she was spewing venom at me? Why, did she suffer Tourette syndrome? For a flash, I irrationally wondered if she might be heading to my play. She wasn’t. I concluded that she was a bitter bat with no filter. I remembered Frobish’s pearl of wisdom and looked on the bright side: I didn’t attend second grade with that asshole, and hopefully, I won’t encounter her again when she’s seventy.

*Yes, this is a Lame Adventures name.

Lame Adventure 399: Snow Pricks

Norman Rockwell was not here.

It’s beginning to look a lot like porn Christmas.

When I woke Tuesday morning I looked out the window and witnessed the first softly falling snow of the season. Ultimately, less than two inches fell in the city and most of it had melted by day’s end, but apparently it still set a record for a December 10th snowfall. Over the course of the months ahead I imagine that there will be plenty more of it to come. Unlike rain, snow does not make a racket, aside from the familiar sound of shovels scraping it off the sidewalk and maybe the occasional thud of some unlucky sap keeling over from a heart attack. Snow falls gracefully even in New York City. Then, it hardens and gets covered in soot and dog pee. The process of Big Apple snow losing its virginity generally happens at warp speed.

This particular Tuesday morning I realized that this month is the 31st anniversary between snow and me. Back in December 1982, I experienced my first snowfall in New York City. Coming from San Francisco, where the weather is usually moderate, I was thrilled to savor my first taste of East Coast-style winter. Maybe it was even a little magical. 31 years later I can honestly say the magic of snow for me is dead, buried and thoroughly decomposed. In fact, my relationship with snow instantly shed its luster on February 11, 1983 when New York got smacked with the Megalopolitan Snowstorm and was buried under 17.6” of it. Even though snow can be very pretty to look at it, it can be a hassle getting around in it.

My first winter out here I was such a cold weather novice. I did not have an adequate coat or boots. So I froze my ass off. The next winter I wised up, and invested in appropriate footwear. I also purchased an enormous down coat that could have served double duty as a sleeping bag or a shelter in the Arctic.

About twenty years ago, on a frigid winter’s day, I was trudging up the slushy Upper Broadway sidewalk in the midst of a crowd. Shoveled mounds of frozen snow were piled three feet high at the curb. An Irritating Hotdog riding a low rider bike, that type of bike with the big handlebars and banana seat, was behind the pedestrians impatiently barking:

Irritating Hotdog: Beep, beep! C’mon, people, get outta the way! Comin’ through!

The throng was thick and the going was slow. It was pure idiocy trying to ride a bike on the sidewalk, especially in those conditions. Fed up with being trapped behind the wall of foot traffic, Irritating Hotdog had a light bulb. He accessed his inner Evel Knievel and decided to jump his bike over the hills of ice looming large at the curb. Unfortunately for him he failed to clear the hurdle. He went flying off his bike. Its once round front wheel was unnaturally twisted at about a 45-degree angle rendering it impossible to ride. The frame might have been banged up, too. Possibly, he totaled his bike. Back to the star attraction, I can still see him airborne. I had stopped, as did others, allowing him space to smack down hard on the pavement in front of us. A fountain of compassion, I gushed:

Me: Good one, asshole.

Even though his clock was cleaned, he got back up on his feet looking looking a tad sheepish. It seemed that his biggest bruise was to his ego and if his bike was indeed a goner, his wallet. An elderly woman walking next to me chuckled.

Elderly Woman: You’ve made my day, Buttercup.

Lame Adventure 387: Any Given Sidewalk

On a pleasant summer evening in mid-August, I was walking down my quiet residential street on the Upper West Side when I encountered a mother walking up my block hand in hand with her inquisitive son, a lad of about five. His attention was focused on the sidewalk.

Sidewalk in question.

Sidewalk in question.

Lad: What are all these spots?

Mom: Gum.

Lad (in disbelief): No!

Mom: Yes! All these spots are chewed gum that someone stepped on again and again and again.

I blew past them both fighting the urge to declare:

Me: Not me!

Upon reflection, I’m glad I kept my defensive pie hole shut because in point of fact, Mom is right. I am someone who has indeed stepped on all that blackened, flattened gum “again and again and again”.  And so is she and so is the lad and so are you, if you’ve ever pounded any New York City pavement. Everyone that sets foot on the sidewalks of New York steps on it, even if it is grounded into the street for decades, you cannot avoid it. It’s everywhere like rats and pigeons. For added authenticity there could have been a little bronze splat under the foot of this statue of legendary New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

The Little Flower

The Little Flower

Where's the bronze gum splat under foot?

Where’s the bronze gum splat under foot?

Where are these legions of gum-chewing-spitting-sidewalk-defacing masses and furthermore, who are they? One workday evening, while standing on the platform in the Chambers Street subway station, I noticed that I was near three gum chewers: a male hipster in his twenties, an adolescent boy and a plush, middle age woman. I wondered if any of them had ever spat their spent gum on the sidewalk? Then, I took my wonder to the next level, were any of these individuals serial gum spitters? Could they have inherited this trait from a long line of gum chewing and spitting ancestors?

Since I am a natural born weasel with a penchant for self-preservation, I kept these burning questions to myself, but I do think they are something, forgive the pun, to chew on. Someone, somewhere is doing a massive amount of gum spitting on the sidewalks of New York and apparently they’re a-okay with it. Possibly for them, this habit is as natural as breathing, bitching or writing on bathroom walls. Odds are good that these are people we have met, actually know, dated, married or maybe, just maybe,  you’re one of them?

Freshly stepped on.

Freshly stepped.

Confession: for the past twenty years in response to thousands of dollars of dental work, I only chew gum when on a plane. I have never in my life ever spat a wad on a sidewalk, but decades ago, once to impress a date, I spat it in a trash can. I misfired and it landed on the side. Inside the can. But it was a pretty wussy spit. I sensed she thought I looked like a fool and I never did that again.

There are a few blackened gum blots outside my apartment building and I wonder if any of my guests might have put them there? I even noticed a wad of spit gum in the hallway where I work. Who did that? Serf or management?

Wad perfect.

Wad perfect.

When Milton and I toured Louis Armstrong’s house in Corona, Queens, I noticed a blackened disc of flattened gum defiling the front steps of the jazz legend’s home.

Did Satchmo do this?

Not even Satchmo’s front stoop is spared!

The modern chewing gum industry was born in 1876 in a factory on Vesey Street in lower Manhattan that was started by Thomas Adams, the dominant gum maker in the early 20th Century. He produced many brands including Chiclets, Tutti Fruiti gumballs and my childhood favorite, the first flavored gum, Black Jack. When I was a youngster, I would stick this black licorice-flavored gum on my front teeth to make it appear that they were missing. While other girls my age were playing Barbie, I was fantasizing that my front teeth looked like Muhammad Ali had knocked them out. In 1962 Adams was sold to Pfizer. Today, it is owned by Cadbury Adams and headquartered in New Jersey. Even though the Vesey Street factory has long since closed, for the past 137 years, gum chewers have continued the tradition of littering the sidewalks of New York.

Classic gum splat. Vintage or recent?

Classic gum splat. Vintage or recent?

There is a company called Gum Busters that’s dedicated to the thankless task of cleaning gum off pavement. They claim that it only takes 24 hours before a freshly spat wad can turn from a bubblegum pink color to a blackened disc the size of a half dollar where it can live in perpetuity.



As for whoever these many closet gum spitters are, I have no idea, but one can only hope that they get what they deserve: sticky payback under the soles of their shoes … or someplace far worse.

Subway seat: don't sit here.

Huge wad of gum on subway seat.

Lame Adventure 353: Fresh Start

Since I am not the type that feels particularly sentimental about the past year, the year I got grayer, flabbier, ditched, and officially arthritic, I welcome moving forward albeit a bit more like the Little Old Lady from Pasadena than Jagger.  My first text of 2013 was a few lines of heartfelt verse sent in the afternoon on New Year’s Day to one of the stars in my posse, my trusted confidant, Coco.

Me (text):  Are you up and not too hung over? If so, can you get me a pair of six eyelet black shoelaces at the Converse store in your ‘hood for my black Jack Purcells? I’ll pay you back tmr.  Thanks and Happy New Year.

Adhering to the topic like Teflon she responds:

Coco (text): Hugh Hefner is married and Kim Kardashian is preggers.  Fuck.  The Mayans have won.

I then venture outside, not for shoelaces, but for a bagel knot at my anything but super, market, Fairway.

Poppy seed bagel knot

Poppy seed bagel knot.

There, I predictably encounter my first asshole of 2013.  I bestow this honor on the father that surely left his brain cells at home in a small pile behind the coffee grinder.  He is accompanying his energetic eight or nine-year-old daughter.  She is riding a scooter inside the store as if she is going for a world record in indoor scootering.  Possibly he is just too wasted from New Year’s Eve celebrating to notice that his spawn is burning rubber and has narrowly missed slicing off the toes on my right foot.  He is also blind to the steam heat that I pack in my head that’s firing directly out of my ears in billowing puffs of smoke.

Once outside again I am pounding the pavement leading back to my sanctum sanctorum when I come across the first littered movie stub on the sidewalk. I am certain that this is not the first littered movie stub in all of New York City in 2013, but this is the first one that catches my eye.  It is lying face down, so I cannot see what film the movie going litterbug saw.  After kicking at it for the better part of fifteen seconds or possibly fifteen minutes, time is so hard to measure when relying on cloud cover, I decide to risk contracting Onychomycosis.  I am aware that rare side effects of treatment for this nail disease can lead to liver failure, and if I get that, very likely I will have a one-way ticket to the big dirt nap.  Please do not send flowers; plant a tree someplace in my memory, and call that tree Inga.  I have always wanted to get horizontal, vertical, perpendicular,  trapezoidal, and truth be told every position Spirograph-ical, with a free spirited naked woman with that name, but preferably someone full figured, yet not scary-fat, more Bettie Page-like, but I digress.

As a daring and brave worrier (sic or sick take your pick), I flip over the ticket stub with my bare fingers and see that the film is Barbara, a drama from Germany that was their official selection for the 2013 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.  Even though it fell short of the Academy’s shortlist, my pal, Milton, has seen it and has praised it effusively. It is likely that I will never see this film because it’s not a feature that screens for seven shekels before noon at the multiplex.

Pay thirteen clams for a single movie -- not on my meager alms.

Yes, screenings of “Barbara” cost thirteen clams here in the Big Apple.

By the time Barbara hits TV, probably cable stations, IFC or the Sundance Channel, I will have long forgotten that I once wanted to see it.  I frankly prefer to invest precious and fleeting middle aged memory space in fantasizing about  free spirited naked women named Barbara desiring me.  Oops, I mean free spirited naked women named Ingrid.  Inez?  How about someone named Ida, or maybe even Idaho? At this point, I’ll even settle for a woman in a burka named Dan as long as her vagina is not dry as dust and her natural fragrance is not that redolent of salmon.  I do have standards.  Anyone offering?

Continuing on my trek, across the street from my brownstone I see the unusual sight of a muscle car from my long evaporated youth, a two door 1968 Buick Skylark.  “Cool beans,” I don’t think since I’d sooner mainline Liquid Plumr than use that expression.  I photograph it avidly figuring that I may never see this vintage of vehicle ever again.  Since it is as intriguing as it is eye sore-ish, there is the distinct possibility that it will hog space on my block long after the sheen on this New Year fades and 2013 is as dull as that forty-five-year-old jalopy’s paint.

Buick Skylark - road hog circa 1968.

Buick Skylark – road hog circa 1968.

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.

Lame Adventure 313: What Do I Know?

I love live theater preferably on a stage, not two hotheads having a yelling match at each other on a subway train.  One way I can afford to see as many off-Broadway plays as I do is I volunteer usher, something I do once or twice a month.  This allows me to see theater for free. The only downside to volunteer ushering is sometimes a show is a dud, but more often, they’re good.

“Peter and the Starcatcher”, a play I volunteer ushered off-Broadway that has transferred to Broadway and is now nominated for 9 Tony awards. This was not a dud.

Many volunteer ushers are retirees, students or aspiring actors. Most are pleasant, but when I worked my most recent ushering gig I encountered Sour Usher.  Sour Usher is a retired woman 10-15 years my senior that’s built like Sitting Bull. I have encountered her several times over the course of the 3 ½ years I’ve been volunteer ushering, but she has never given me a single nod of recognition.  When I say, “Hi,” she gives me the “Who are you?” look.

Together, we recently ushered a play that’s still in previews.  It officially opens later this week, so there might still be some tweaks made to it between now and then.  She’s a complainer-type who has been volunteer ushering forever.  Therefore, she thinks she’s an authority that knows more than everyone in the theater company combined.  When I last ushered with her, it was for a delightful musical at New York Theater Workshop called Once.   At intermission, she confided that she hated the show.  I told her that it was an adaptation of a film.  She was unfamiliar with the film and told me that she had no interest in seeing it.

Sour Usher:  Is this like the movie?

Me:  Yes, it’s following the story closely.

Sour Usher:  So the movie was lousy, too.

Once transferred to Broadway earlier this year and has since been nominated for eleven Tony awards.

People parked outside the Jacobs theater at 9 am hoping for tickets to the 3 pm matinee of “Once”.

The play Sour Usher and I ushered recently was one neither of us were familiar with.  The program had a preface that indicated that it has been in development since 2004.  Sour Usher zeroed in on the fact that its earliest origins were as a short film for a Food Network competition.

Sour Usher:  Can you believe this?  They’re staging a cooking show!  I know I’m not going to like this.

I thought:

Me (defiantly):  This is one of the most respected off-Broadway theater companies in the country.  We’re seeing this play for free.  Give it a chance.  It’s not like we’re witnessing an execution.

I said:

Me (weaselly):  Well, that sounds different.

When the house opened and we admitted audience members, the star who doubles as co-author took the stage.  She started cooking.  Sour Usher admitted that whatever it was that she was cooking smelled good.  She insisted that it was gingerbread, but we later learned that it was eggplant for baba ganoush.  Small difference.  The House Manager seated us together.  Sour Usher groused about her seat, even though we were in the fifth row and had a perfect view.  She resented not being seated on the aisle.  At intermission, she refused to applaud declaring:

Sour Usher:  There’s nothing in this play for me.  It’s all cliché, predictable, pointless.  It’s too many stories happening at once and not a single one interests me.  When it opens, the Times will kill it.

I thought:

Me:  Like the way they killed Once?

I said (this comment slipped out like an involuntary fart):

Me:  You really think that?

She looked at me and sniffed.  Maybe I did involuntarily cut a silent-but-deadly.

Sour Usher:  You like this?  [disgusted] You did applaud.

I thought:

Me (defiant): I applauded because I’m entertained, I think it’s a novel play that’s well staged and I’m interested in what happens next.  Is that criminal?

I said:

Me (weaselly):  I applaud out of habit.

I know that Sour Usher thinks I’m an idiot, and possibly I am for not having the guts to say exactly what I think to her.  She’s one of those difficult, critical know-it-alls.  Arguing with her is pointless.  I save point-full bickering for women that matter that let me see them naked.  I wonder if Sour Usher even likes theater.  I thought that it was possible that the only thing she really likes is eating for I saw her inhaling a muffin at intermission.  I asked:

Me:  Is that gingerbread?

Sour Usher (mouth full):  No.

Me: What is it?

Sour Usher:  Terrible.

I should have known.

“Venus in Fur” debuted off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company in 2010 before transferring to Broadway last fall. It’s received Tony award nominations for Best Play and Best Actress (Nina Arianda).