When I was visiting London, I picked up this child. I mean, I chatted up this guy, and it turned out he was about 19 1/2 (to my ancient 30), and he went to KU. Me? I learned to drink martinis at the Granada. And the cousin I was visiting in London not only went to KU, he was in the middle of March madness, trying desperately to somehow watch all the games while overseas. Of all the gin joints, right?
The boy was adorable. And an English major. I invited him to the party that I’ll discuss Sunday. We snuggled up on the couch and he quoted long passages of Shelley. I didn’t mind that. I hope that as a young, poor college student, he appreciated access to unlimited Bombay Sapphire gin. (We were in Britain, after all.) He proceeded to get gleefully drunk, and then insist he would find his way back to his far-flung hotel alone, on foot, at 3 am. Luckily, another departing guest volunteered to accompany him on the bus.
The other man I met in London was much too old. I lined up for rush tickets to “The Tempest” one afternoon. “The Tempest” is my favorite Shakespeare. I had already seen Patrick Stuart (ya know, Captain Picard) in a different production of the same play on Broadway. This is how spoiled I am! That Broadway production was one of the most powerful pieces of theater I’ve ever seen. Stuart doing the last speech of Prospero’s ripped me open.
Anyway, I’m lined up in this little theater. The first time I’ve been in a London theater. I’m imagining Dickens there. There are two men in line ahead of me. Since we’re there for hours, we start chatting. The man old enough to be my father is a Shakespeare professor at some small British college. He is charming, and we chatter on and on about Shakespeare and literature. His son, who is my age, stands there silently and says nothing. He clearly finds the idea of a Royal Shakespeare Company production to be only slightly less exciting than clipping his toenails.
We all scored tickets to the show eventually, and then I had barely had time to run to my cousin’s flat. I absolutely would not go to the theater in regular old daytime attire. I stopped, panting, in front of my cousin’s building, and the buzzer would not work. My cousin was up there. I could see him from the sidewalk. I ducked into a cinematic red British phone booth, right across the street, and stared at the instructions. I had one pound and a phone number with too many digits. I managed it somehow, though, flew upstairs, threw on a lovely evening outfit, and ran back to the theater in heels. Too young, too old– yes, every unhappy romantic encounter is unhappy in its own way. But at least unhappiness makes better stories.
Storytelling is: Sunday, May 15, 6-9 pm, at Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, 2012 Baltimore, KCMO, 64108