Thoughts On Missing A Play

In post war England, an immi­nent mur­der is announced in the local paper. A mur­der does occur, but not the one expect­ed and it is Miss Marple who comes to the res­cue to solve the mys­ti­fy­ing case.

Two tick­ets, but I’m on the down­swing. It’s the intro­vert­ed end of my cycle and I can’t meet new peo­ple or go out­side with­out feel­ing some kind of anx­i­ety. I used to live two blocks away from the the­atre, pass­ing it many times but nev­er in atten­dance. I always kept an eye out for a play I want­ed to see — Equus, or Hamlet, or Picasso at the Lapin Agile — but noth­ing piqued my inter­est. This time, the oppor­tu­ni­ty pre­sent­ed itself, Pearl dou­ble-booked with extra tick­ets, and I could­n’t say no.

I force myself to go.

It’s a lit­tle warm to be wear­ing a blaz­er, but noth­ing else affords me the pock­ets for my Moleskine, pen, lens cloth, and iPod. Waiting at the bus stop, I write.

At this time on a Sunday, I’m usu­al­ly wind­ing down. Taking out the garbage, doing the dish­es, fin­ish­ing off an entry, get­ting things squared away for anoth­er week. Instead, I’m head­ing out. For days I’ve been try­ing to write about how jum­bled I feel. There have been new devel­op­ments, both good and bad, leav­ing me with a mix­ture of excite­ment and dis­ap­point­ment. The most I can say is that it makes sense, how I feel, and I can trace every emo­tion to a cause.

The bus comes. On it, I lis­ten to my music but I can’t get in the right head space. Nothing fits. I’m not feel­ing sad, or hap­py, or jad­ed, or ener­getic. I skip song after song.

Stepping off the bus, my ago­ra­pho­bia begins to choke me.

I can’t breathe. Maybe some can­dy will help me swal­low my anx­i­ety. I walk to Loeb. All they have is gum and choco­late. A whole store with no hard can­dy. I grab a pack of Juicy Fruit. Wait. Will this turn my tongue blue? I put it back and grab a pack of Excel gum. Wait. There’s mints. I put it back, and grab a box of Excel Peppermints. Stepping out­side, I pop one in my mouth and the intense men­thol sucks the breath out of my lungs. I quick­ly chew it to get rid of it.

Lights out at the­atre. SUNDAYCLOSED. It must refer to the box office, I think to myself.

A quick driz­zle devel­ops. Then pour­ing rain and I’m stuck out­side in my vel­vet blaz­er.

There’s shel­ter by the prop door. I call Pat on my cell phone and ask him to check my e‑mail to con­firm the time, but his inter­net isn’t work­ing. A woman steps out of the door, late-for­ties. “Is there a play on tonight?”, I ask her. “No, they’re hold­ing audi­tions for the next one. You should go in, they need a nice-look­ing young man like your­self”. Taken aback by her com­ment, I can only reply with a smile. She eyes the rain falling off the awning, slow­ly but­tons up her cardi­gan, and walks away.

I walk to the front and see the poster. Sunday Matinée. 2:00 pm. Six hours past. What hap­pened? Did I miss-read the e‑mail? Did my mind sub­con­scious­ly for­get that crit­i­cal word? I had to men­tal­ly pre­pare myself for this. I even planned my Sunday around it. Anger and accep­tance fill my heart, the for­mer because of my mis­take, the lat­ter because there’s noth­ing I can do about it. Then there’s the guilt of wast­ing Pearl’s gen­eros­i­ty, and leav­ing Shaelah alone in the the­atre. To my sur­prise, I did­n’t feel relieved at all.

Twenty-one min­utes until the next bus. I must have just missed it.

When it comes, it’s full of cra­zies, intent­ly fin­ger­ing the dread­locks in their beards, and peo­ple smelling like wet rats. Not even a seat avail­able among them. I just want to go home and show­er.

There’s a song I’ve lis­tened to for over ten years now, but the lyrics only start­ed to make sense a cou­ple days ago: “A body in motion tends to stay emo­tion­al, and it’s bet­ter to feel. Pain is bet­ter than empti­ness, empti­ness is bet­ter than noth­ing, and noth­ing is bet­ter than this.”

I go through these cycles — intro­ver­sion and extro­ver­sion, con­fi­dence and debil­i­tat­ing dif­fi­dence — like Yin and Yang for a rea­son. As much as I need sta­bil­i­ty in my life, I need uncer­tain­ty. As much as I need hap­pi­ness, I need dis­ap­point­ment. Otherwise, life would remain sta­t­ic and there would be noth­ing to write about.

And as much as I enjoy the com­fort of a defined life, I need to embrace the unknown, the anx­i­ety, and miss a play every now and then.


  1. Do you real­ly need the dis­ap­point­ment? Or are you just habit­u­al­ly accus­tomed to the cycles of it?

  2. I do. As much as I need sad­ness, as much as I need pain. Without one extreme, one can’t appre­ci­ate the oth­er. This does­n’t mean that I par­tic­u­lar­ly seek out dis­ap­point­ment, but it’s an accept­ed, unchange­able fact of life.

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