At one time or another, everyone does something terrible.
We eat things out of the break room fridge that do not belong to us1, we don’t recycle, we cut in line, we talk during movies, we text while someone is trying to have a conversation with us.
You know, things that benefit the individual, but bite the collective good in the pants seat.
Yesterday, I did something that tops the list of terrible things I have done.
It was also totally worth it.
A little background to set the scene: There is currently a show playing here in Chicago. It is called Eastland and it is at the Lookingglass Theatre. Eastland has been blowing up. It is a new musical having its world premiere here amid a slew of good press. It got a glowing write up in Time Magazine in an article that basically began “We never write up theatre outside of New York, but this play is so awesome it needs to be shared.” So of course I thought, I need to see this show!
Unfortunately, so did the rest of Chicago. Meaning that tickets for this show have become very hard to obtain. Especially if you aren’t willing to pay full price, but instead opt for student tickets purchased an hour before performance time, which was my situation.
About a week ago, a girl in the YSA I’m going to call Everywhere mentioned to me that she was also interested in seeing Eastland. “Call me when you end up going,” she said. So when I found out there were tickets available for the Saturday matinee, I texted her and asked her if she wanted to come along.
That was my first mistake. Not because there is anything wrong with Everywhere – she’s a perfectly lovely person. I just don’t like going to theatre with people. I get too worried about what my companion is thinking about the show. I would much rather just revel in my own experience and enjoyment. Or unenjoyment, depending on the show. I shouldn’t have invited Everywhere. Not because I didn’t want to go with her – I just didn’t want to go with anyone.
The other problem with this situation is my obsessive punctuality. When they tell me the box office opens for student tickets at noon, I am there at quarter to noon, first in line, taping my foot anxiously and worrying that I did not powerwalk down Michigan Ave. fast enough. Everywhere, though she seems responsible and punctual, is not as obsessively on time as I am2. So at noon, she was not there. But you know who was there? Four other people behind me in line.
As I watched the box office employee take down the CLOSED sign and start to fire up his computer, I weighed my options. One, wait for Everywhere and risk not getting a ticket yet again. It is important to remember that I am also rapidly running out of time here in Chicago to see this show. Two, don’t wait for Everywhere, be guaranteed a ticket, but have to live with crippling guilt over abandoning my companion.
The box office guy said, “Hi, what can I get for you?”
I looked from him, to my phone where a text from Everywhere was still glowing3, to the super large poster of Eastland hanging on the wall with this haunted looking boy with big blue eyes.
And I said, “Yeah – one ticket please.”
And then I got my ticket. And I left. Without Everywhere.
And then I went to the show. And sat in my seat. Which was not next to Everywhere. I watched the show4. Without Everywhere. And then I left. Without Everywhere.
Part of me felt terrible. Most of me felt like that was an amazing show that was definitely worth betraying my friends for.
But Everywhere, if you are reading this, apologies from the bottom of my heart. It’s just, I don’t know you well enough to put you before theatre.
And the show really was just extraordinary. If it hadn’t been, I would feel worse.
- Or, in a more relevant example, drink a diet coke that doesn’t belong to them. Still irked about that.
- No one is, frankly.
- “I don’t know when I’ll get there – traffic’s awful!”
- “Watched” is a relative term. I mostly sobbed my way through it. It was one of the more beautiful things I’ve seen in a long time. Beautiful like emotional, and beautiful like “oh my gosh there is a guy suspended twenty feet above the ground with this amazing lighting effect that makes it look like he’s swimming!”