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. SUNDAY — CLOSED. 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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