Two whole DAYS without a me-post. I wasn’t even bluffing when I said I was going to cut back a little. Did you miss me? Please say no or I’ll feel guilty. Wait, if you say no I’ll feel like I’m not important. Shit, there’s no winning in this scenario. Dammit.
Anyway, you know how I told you I’d come back with stories? Whoo, am I loaded to bear with stories.
OK, so here’s the scoop. You know how I review theater for the paper and it’s my favorite thing ever ever, right? Right. It totally is.
At the end of every month, our scheduler (another one of the reviewers) sends out a list of plays that are up for review that month. Then we all email him with the ones we’re most interested in, and he schedules appropriately. I’m the low man on the totem pole (or Yertle the Turtle, I suppose) so I get the leftovers. I don’t mind. As long as I get some, I’m a happy lady. (NOT A EUPHEMISM. Or, I guess, it is, if you want to take it that way. Either way, I’m a happy lady, I guess.) I really am. It’s most sincerely my favorite thing, no matter what I see.
Last month, we got our list, and I got two shows – one nearby (well, in Schenectady, so nearISH-by) and one FAR AWAY. I actually totally volunteered for the one far away, because it was a theater I’d never been to, and I like adventures. Adventuring more was one of my non-resolutions for the year.
The far-away theater was an hour from me, in a whole new COUNTY. Well! Exciting, right? Yes.
I looked it up online first, because if I’m anything, it’s researchy. Mapquest made it look easy:
See? That looks simple enough. It’s more or less a straight line. Or a parabola or something.
So after work on Saturday, I prepared myself for my drive to Cambridge. The internet said it was the home of pie a la mode. Hmm. How can you claim that? “We were the first ones to put ICE CREAM on PIE.” That seems suspect to me. That’s like saying you were the first one to toast bread.
I got out TomTom (Dad was all, “YOU BRING THAT MACHINE! DON’T YOU LEAVE WITHOUT YOUR MAP MACHINE!” and my phone all loaded with the best of music (thanks to sj, who taught me how to load up the phone with music, and all I’ve been doing for the past week is listening to my music, it’s been the best thing ever) and some water. You don’t leave home without water. What if you get thirsty? You don’t know what might happen.
I totally left early. I take this VERY SERIOUSLY, yo.
Things went swimmingly. TomTom was very helpful. Music was very cheery. Here I was! On an ADVENTURE!
Then things got…weird. Twilight-Zone weird. Scooby-Doo-adventure weird.
See, I didn’t zoom in enough on the map on Mapquest. From a distance, it looked like it might be kind of a straight shot to Cambridge. If I had zoomed in, I might have been better prepared.
TomTom started making me turn every two miles. Each road it made me turn onto was smaller than the last. Each road was more poorly paved. Each road was narrower. There were many, many curves, most of which did not have those shiny reflecty things that tell you a curve is coming. It was very, very dark. There were no streetlights, because it was in the country. There were a lot of fields. And snow. Also? It was raining. Hard. And a lot. And there was a lot of fog. So as you can imagine, I could see about 3 inches in front of my car.
Things that kept happening without warning: bridges. Teeny-tiny covered bridges. Which, in daylight, and with some warning, might have been charming. But out of NOWHERE, bam, HERE IS A BRIDGE, were terrifying. (Also, I’m not a bridge fan. They make me nervous. I always think they’re going to collapse.) One of the bridges was sway-ey. I’m not even kidding about this.
I talked to myself a lot on the trip. Here are some things I said:
- “This is why I moved to a city. ROADS LIKE THIS ARE WHY I LIVE IN A CITY.”
- “I should have left my last will and testament with someone before I took off for this trip. That was an oversight on my part.”
- “I am sorry, person who is behind me and hates how slow I’m going, but I can’t pull over and let you go by me. There’s nowhere to pull over. Also, I’m afraid these snowbanks are sentient and will swallow me, and my car, alive.”
- “Do you think someone’s about to wish me into the corn? This is the kind of area where someone wishes you into the corn.”
- “That dead thing in the road…that wasn’t a skunk. That wasn’t a possum, either. Or a cat or a dog or a woodchuck. OMG I HAVE ENTERED ANOTHER DIMENSION WHERE ANIMALS ARE NOT OF THIS EARTH WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!?!?!”
- “TomTom, I feel like you hate me right now. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME. Are you bringing me somewhere where I will be sacrificed to the gods of the fields or something? ARE YOU IN CAHOOTS WITH THE FIELD GODS, TOMTOM? WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU?”
Finally, FINALLY, after much loud cussing and maybe a little close-to-crying, I arrived in Cambridge. Cambridge is a very pretty little town. It reminds me of where I grew up. Teeny. Pretty. I think this whole thing would have been better had it been in daylight.
I found the theater. There was nowhere to park. I turned onto a little side road behind the theater and into a parking lot. At this point, the show was just about to start, because I had to drive VERY SLOWLY to get to the theater so as early as I left, I’d lost any earliness by having to putter along those weird tiny rainy dark roads. I parked in the little lot. I got out of the car and realized the entire lot was a sheet of ice and there was no way I could walk across it. I started to get very angry at Cambridge. I got BACK in the car, pulled around to ANOTHER parking lot, which was icy but NOT as icy, and walked to the theater.
Which was dark, with a sign on it.
“If I just drove all this way and this show is cancelled, I’m going to have a serious stomping fit right now,” I said. Out loud. On the abandoned street. Because it was almost 8pm and no one in Cambridge was awake anymore, I guess.
The sign said the show was being held at another location – to walk past the diner and the bookstore and down the brick path to the boathouse. These are all things a serial killer says to you to lead you to the murder spot. Ironically, this new spot was not far from where I parked my car, so I hadn’t needed to walk all the way around to the theater after all.
The brick patch was – surprise! – all icy, too. Dear Cambridge, you need to invest in some salt and/or dirt and/or cinders, because you are a liability waiting to happen.
However, I got to the theater (finally) and it was a nice little theater. And, luckily, I liked the show very much. Which I suppose is a spoiler for the review, but by the time this publishes, the review should be up.
I was a little distracted throughout, though. Because I still had to (gulp) drive back home.
At the intermission, I called Dad, because I promised I would. I explained that I might not make it home, because I wasn’t 100% sure where I was, and was afraid someone was going to wish me into the corn. “There’s CORN?” Dad said. “In the WINTER?” Then I had to explain it was metaphor-corn. “This town reminds me of home. The roads are like home, the town is like home,” I said. “Well, then, it must be a very nice place,” Dad said. (He loves small towns. They are his favorite. Big cities make him make disapproval-face.)
“You call me when you get home, even if it’s late,” Dad said. “Don’t get eaten by all that not-real corn.”
You can be almost 40 and your parents still worry about you. True story.
The show finished; again, it was very good. None of this is the show or the theater’s fault. I was glad to have seen the show. (Can you imagine if the show was BAD? Ugh. That would have been the worst.) It hit me on a very personal level; it was all about friendship, the lengths we go to for the ones we love, how we make our own family from our friends. There might have been some crying, sitting there in the front row. Don’t worry, I wasn’t obnoxious. Quiet crying. Just leaking, really.
(Also, one of the patrons sitting next to me said, pre-show, “Oh, I hit a deer on the way here, don’t worry, my car’s fine, just covered in blood and hair again, ha ha!” ZOMG. AGAIN?!?! Good grief. COVERED in blood and hair? And this was FUNNY? Oh, no no, I so somehow became a city girl in the past twenty years, it’s painfully obvious.)
Time for the drive home. GULP GULP.
More of the same, except (whew) it had stopped raining, for the most part. Still many bridges out of nowhere. Still many small roads. Still that mysterious dead thing. And the BEST part, at one point, THERE WAS TREE IN THE ROAD AND I HIT IT.
No, not A tree. “Tree.” It seemed that perhaps a tree had fallen across the road, and someone came and wood-chipped it? Wood-chipped it poorly? But didn’t remove it? And then, I don’t know, screwed right off for the night? And didn’t put up flares or flashy-flash things or cones? So I was driving along at like 30 mph or whatever and RAN RIGHT OVER CHUNKS OF TREE. So that probably was very good for my car in a not-at-all-good-for-my-car way.
I could see a red glow in the distance. “It’s Albany,” I said. “I CAN SEE HOME. I’M COMING, ALBANY!” (From a distance, my home looks like a sunrise. I like that very much, even if it’s just light pollution that’s doing that.)
I saw a ghost car. I had to keep turning on my brights, which, by the way, I don’t use in the city, and I had no idea how to use. I fumbled with them a lot. The person in back of me probably thought I was having a seizure. I kept flashing them and turning on my signal light. But I eventually figured it out. Anyway, when a car was coming at me, I had to turn them down. As a polite person does. So a car was coming; I turned down my brights. I waited for the car to pass me. The car never passed me. “The hell?” I said. There was nowhere for it to turn off. IT WAS A GHOST CAR. I’m pretty sure it was driven by that ghostly hitchhiker from the urban legend that people pick up and then she DISAPPEARS, and leaves only her SCARF in the BACKSEAT, dun dun dunnnnn.
Finally, after about a million turns and twists and I totally almost killed a little mouse that darted across the road (SORRY MOUSIE!) I pulled out into a place that the signs started being recognizable. I WAS ALMOST HOME!
When I pulled into my parking lot, I was the most relieved. I didn’t think I would ever see it again. I called Dad to inform him I was not dead. “I looked up that town on the map,” Dad said. “There’s no direct route to that place. I need to teach you how to read a map.”
“Why?” I said. “I can’t read a map while I’m driving. That’s what TomTom’s for. He talks to me. That way I don’t drive off the road into the snowbank of doom that wants to eat my face.”
Dad sighed a tired, sad sigh. “MAPS CAME BEFORE GPS,” he said.
“Well, tin cans and string came before phones, but that doesn’t mean they’re better,” I said. I think that was a very smart answer. He told me to go to bed because it was late and I had to work in the morning.
Things this trip reminded me of:
- The Stephen King short story Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut, where the titular character was obsessed with finding the shortest way to get places, and at one point found a rift in space and time, and there was an animal not of this world there
- The tv show (or maybe short story? my Google skills are failing me) where a traveling salesman comes into a small town and gets pulled over for speeding and they lock him up and feed him a lot of good food and invite him to the barbecue tonight and then put him in a very warm room to wait for the town judge and he realizes the ROOM is really an OVEN and HE is the barbecue (I promise this is a real thing, I read it when I was a kid, and also saw the show, I think it was either on Alfred Hitchcock Presents or The Twilight Zone)
- Getting wished into the corn
- Why I moved to a city the minute I could
- The short story The Lottery
- Why it’s very important to bring water with you on long trips, because you TOTALLY DO get thirsty
Anyway, so yeah, I probably will not be going back there anytime soon? Which is a shame, because it really was a nice show.
Why didn’t anyone tell me that adventuring was such hard work? Sheesh. It truly is not for the faint of heart, yo. Who knew the life of a theater reviewer would be fraught with such TERROR and MYSTERY?!?!?!