So let’s see, the Pet Shop Boys, Vince Gill, and a chamber concert all in one week? Dude, my life is so boring. We’ve done Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, the Book Fair, and Drama Club this week. Sigh.
— V-Grrrl, commenting on yesterday’s post
When I was a teenager, my father gave me two pieces of advice on how to deal with women:
1) Never hurt a woman.
I still don’t really know if he meant physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
2) Take your wife out on weekends.
This completely went over my head when he first told me this piece of wisdom. Tickets for the weekend was a central concept to my father’s vision of marriage. My father was always getting theater and concert tickets “for Elaine” (my mother). Even though he always said he was getting it “for her,” I think he got them equally for himself. My father was the type of person who could never admit doing anything for himself. It always had to be for someone else.
My father was also obsessive-compulsive, so he had a huge bulletin board in his bedroom where he would micro-organize all his tickets to concerts, shows, and events. He believed that if you bought tickets ahead of time, this would force you to go out, even if you got lazy at the last moment. He would sometimes subscribe to a theater season a year ahead of time, so he always knew he had something to go to every weekend, and didn’t have to worry about it. Box offices throughout New York City would know his name when he called up, because he would send his check in the mail before the season actually began. He subscribed to the Roundabout Theater, Circle in the Square, Lincoln Center, Queens College Concert Series, Theater in the Park, and several others, including discount Broadway show tickets from the Theater Development Fund.
My parents would go out practically every weekend, frequently taking me along. There were times when it was clear that no one wanted to go, but we went anyway because we “had the tickets.” It was my family’s version of being forced to go to church on Sunday morning. We would travel two hours into Manhattan during a snow storm to see a poorly-reviewed version of an Ibsen play (awkwardly updated to 1920’s Chicago) just because the tickets hung on the bulletin board and the date was penciled in on the large calendar my father kept next to the bulletin board. My friends would be drinking beer outside on Saturday night while I would be dragged to hear Chopin with my parents. I frequently fell asleep during these concerts and my mother would elbow me so I wouldn’t snore.
I realize that when I described my parents on this blog in the past, I created a picture akin to the parents of Seinfeld — real Jewish outer borough types. That IS an accurate description of them. But there was one big difference, My father had an obsession with high culture. Where did it come from? — I have NO IDEA, but it was important that we immersed ourselves in it. If my mother didn’t have a sense of humor about some of the boring stuff we saw, I would have turned into a hopeless prig.
Years later, though, much of my father’s wisdom has started to make sense — especially about the importance of going out. In the two weeks since she came back from New York, Sophia and I have gone to three concerts, a Broadway musical, and a movie. Like my father, we bought the tickets early enough to force ourselves to go out. We knew that if we waited until the last minute, one of us (usually me) would start copping out, wanting to watch “Dancing with the Stars” instead. But to be honest, going out is pretty tiring, especially to someone like me, who is happy enough just sitting at the computer, blogging. Tonight we didn’t go anywhere, which was pretty nice. After we watched — what else? — “Dancing with the Stars” (dancer Cheryl Burke is so cute!), Sophia turned to me and said, “Remember, tomorrow we’re going to the Improv with Danny.”
“Do we have to?” I sighed.
“Yes,” she answered. We already have the tickets.”
Some things never change.