Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Night Out

Last night Beloved Spouse and I went to the theatre. The thea-TAH, baby! It was wonderful, for all kinds of reasons. Other than a few quick jaunts to grab a bite to eat, it was the first time BelSpouse and I had gone out since before his surgery. An evening out is a rare enough occasion for us, but even more so since he's been recovering, and it was badly needed before our our relationship dynamic permanently changed to nurse-patient. You know, instead of bickering-spouses-who-have-been-together-for-a-ridiculously-long-time.They appear similar on the surface, but in the former I have to pretend I don't want to smother him with his own pillow. It felt good to shed that artifice.

So. We went to see Spamalot, which we'd both been wanting to see forever. It was fabulous. We laughed, we sang along, we said "Ni!" Bliss for Monty Python fans, possibly not so much for those who don't know or don't like the famed British comedy troupe. And there seemed to be a surprising number of those types in attendance. But more on that in a moment.

For me, the best part about a real date - as opposed to the normal longtime-marrieds dates that involve window shopping at the mall or browsing in a favorite bookstore - is that the actual event is only one part of the overall experience. You get to see things and do things and be exposed to things that are sheer novelty. When you have an office job and a kid and a very predictable routine, sheer novelty takes on the stature of high art. It's almost as if the whole world is putting on a show just for you, and you actually get to enjoy it instead of popping up every time the oven timer sounds or the dryer cycle stops or the cat herks up a hairball. On date night, thankfully there is no pause button to accommodate distractions; the only way to experience everything is to stay in the moment. And if I'm rhapsodzing a bit here, then perhaps you can understand what a rare and exhilarating treat last night was.

If your life is going to be a Van Gogh painting, which would you prefer?

To preserve my memories of my date night for posterity - after all, I may not have another one for a while - I've compiled a list of Impressions from a Night Out. Cue appropriate music (I'm thinking either "Ein Kleine Nachtmusik" or "Yakety Sax.")

1. Dallas is renowned for having a downtown that dries up and blows away outside of bankers' hours. Yet somehow the main freeway through the downtown area can still have a paralyzing traffic jam at 7:30 on a Saturday night. Do they hire stunt cars to create the illusion there's something happening there?

This photo of a traffic-free I-30 was taken during some kind of zombie apocalypse, apparently.

2. Our destination for the evening was the beautiful Music Hall at Fair Park. Fair Park is located in what might delicately be called not one of the better parts of Dallas. Still, I'm shocked at the number of people who have never gone there even once because they're afraid, in the words of one of BelSpouse's friends, "the black people will get you."


In well over 20 years of attending the State Fair of Texas and other events at Fair Park, I've never so much as been given the stink eye, let alone fallen victim to the kind of rampant crime and general lawlessness that supposedly runs amok there. I have no doubt those problems exist in the area. But I've seen worse things happen in my own suburban neighborhood than I've ever personally witnessed in and around Fair Park.

3. People have interesting ideas of what "dressing for the theatre" means. I mean, no one expects black tie and evening gowns at Spamalot. But why don't people enjoy dressing up? Do they attend so many formal galas that they see a night at the theatre as an excuse to let their hair down? For me, practically the best part about the entire night was that I got to evening bag!

With beads and everything!

Plus I got to wear my purple peep-toe pumps and lots of makeup and an extra layer of hairspray. I felt like Barbie (in a good way, and without the bizarre body measurements).

To be sure, there were plenty of folks who were dressed nicely. But there were also, um, other folks. For example, a surprising number of middle-aged men seem to believe that no evening ensemble is complete without a Hawaiian shirt.  Also, I noted that tucking in shirt tails is considered optional for many. Hint: there are shirts that are meant to be worn "out," and shirts that are not. Even BelSpouse, hardly a sartorial genius, knows the difference.

If the shirttail's not flat, tuck it in, stat!
Among the women, it was good to see that dressing as if your entire existence revolved around bedding a professional athlete is still going strong as a look.

Dressing like a hoochie-mama helps, but it's the
sash that gets you to the altar. Ask Mrs. Romo.
4. The ladies' room at the Music Hall is the most efficient high-volume restroom I've ever seen. A staff of five uniformed attendants kept us moving briskly from line to stall to sink to door. It was choreography to rival anything I saw onstage. The speed with which we moved was almost a pity in one way: It limited the time I got to spend with my new friend, Extremely Drunk Nurse Who Talked Like Fran Drescher and Hated the Show But Desperately Wanted to Score with One of the Nice Doctors Who Brought Her. She was a hoot, and she loved my dress. I wish we had had time to exchange e-mail addresses before we were whisked to toilets on opposite sides of the room.

5. The season-ticket holders in the audience were easy to spot. They were the ones who were visibly horrified by the show they were watching. Like the couple sitting next to us, who never once spoke, laughed, or applauded the entire evening, then bolted toward the exit before the curtain calls were over. I'm not sure what kind of musical they were expecting. Perhaps not one featuring songs about gay knights and Jews on Broadway, or jokes involving decapitation by a vicious rabbit. Spamalot won the Tony for Best Musical in 2005; it's not a new show that no one's ever heard of. Still, it's pretty easy to Google "Monty Python," "Eric Idle," or "huge tracts of land" and know what you're in for. No complaints, though; the shock and awe among some of the patrons was at least as entertaining as the production itself.

6. In addition to the cast CDs and souvenir T-shirts available for purchase in the lobby, you could buy your very own set of fake coconut shells. I found this fascinating, as you can buy a real coconut for a few bucks, enjoy the tasty coconut meat, and have authentic shell halves for making horse noises instead of some tacky overpriced piece of crap that wasn't even marked with the show name or logo. And now I think a Mounds bar is in my future. Mmmm...coconut.

7. Before the show, BelSpouse and I ate at our current favorite Italian restaurant. I feel a bit guilty about eating here. We have a long history of shutting down Italian restaurants. Seriously, for a while every new place we tried closed down after the first or second time we tried it. I'll never forget the shrimp parmagiana at Napoli's in Addison, which is a good thing because no sooner had we named it "our place" than it closed. But oh man, the manicotti at Alfredo's in Carrollton is good. If you live nearby, please patronize it, because we'd feel awfully guilty if we destroyed yet another family's livelihood.

8. And what about the show itself? Awesome. Eric Idle is a genius. The songs were amazing (especially "Find Your Grail," which managed to be hilarious and heartfelt at the same time). The actor who played Patsy managed to steal the show. And who doesn't love can-can-dancing French Legionnaires?

So...two thumbs up for Spamalot, and for date night. I hope to do it again soon. According to the poster at the Music Hall, The Addams Family is part of next season's schedule. Creepy, kooky, altogether ooky...sounds like the perfect night out.

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