Sunday, March 11, 2018

The play's the thing

In high school, in the early 60s, I was in two musicals (Liesl in The Sound of Music and some lesser part in Camelot) and the senior play (Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians). During my college years, in the late 60s, I was in two summer community theatre musicals (HMS Pinafore and The Mikado).

I minored in drama because I love the theatre.

As a newlywed in a tiny desert town (Rosamond, CA), I directed the district's first high school play (Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap).

That was nearly 50 years ago.

At the Voyager RV resort, where Art and I live in the winter, there is usually a musical or a play. Rehearsals start in early November and the production is in early March. Art has been cast for the last four years. I helped for two; I headed up ticket sales two years ago and was associate producer and stage manager last year. I had no interest in acting. For one thing, it is Art's delight and I wanted him to have an activity I wasn't involved in. For another, it's time consuming to do two rehearsals a week for four months.

This year my friend Dee, the director, said, "Linda, would you consider taking a part?" I said, "Only if you can't find anyone else." I suspect she didn't try to find anyone else. And I didn't ever say no.

So I was in rehearsals every Monday and Thursday afternoon from November 4 to March 5. I played Sylvia Axley, the bitchy former program chairman of a woman's club, in an hourlong one-act play called "Guess Who's Coming to Lunch." I'm not bitchy myself, I don't think, but I've known my share, so I had some behaviors to observe and draw on.

I learned, to my chagrin, that lines are much harder to memorize at 69 than they are at 19. Much, much harder.

Our performances were Thursday and Friday evenings this week. We had audiences of just under 300 people each night. I would call it a "friends and family" performance.

I was a pretty good bitch, I've been told!

Tomorrow there's a production meeting for next season's play. I will go to hear about it and probably to find out what Art will be up to next year. But after this year I am calling myself a retired actress.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Higher education in the nail salon

There are nail salons closer to our winter place. This one is nine miles away and I almost didn't go. But my friend Lynne had a dentist appointment right after her pedicure, so we drove in separate cars. Lynne and I like to chat while we're getting our pedicures.

My pedicurist was a Vietnamese man, Thomas. As he washed my feet I said "cảm ơn" - thank you, the only Vietnamese word I know. I say this every time I get a pedicure in a Vietnamese nail salon. This time, though, Thomas grinned from ear to ear. I was grateful I've been to Vietnam and learned the word, and remembered it.

Lynne's pedicurist is an American woman, Janie. A recent Tucsonian arrival, in her 20s, born and raised in the South, she's getting a fresh start with her life. Her eyes are bright and calm. We are both Friends of Bill W, so we chatted briefly about that. I was grateful that I've learned to be curious and friendly to people I might not have spoken to before. My eyes are wider these days.

Then a new client arrived. A man. Long white beard. Long white hair. Carrying two guns in leather holsters. I watched, startled, as he crossed the room. In my entire life I have never seen a person carrying a gun other than a police officer. I have only heard of it.

Janie had finished Lynne's pedicure, and the carrying fellow was her next client. They greeted each other. Janie started filling the water in the foot basin and the man took off his boots, then his socks, before seating himself in the station next to me.

I almost didn't say anything to him. Then I said, "Janie, what is your client's name?"


I looked at him and said, "Hi, Rusty. My name is Linda. Would you mind if I take your picture? In my whole 69 years, I have never seen anyone carrying. And I would never have thought I'd see it in a nail salon!"

I continued, "I've been told I should never take a picture of a person without asking permission. I don't want to offend you."

Rusty laughed. "Sure," he said.

"How often do you get a pedicure?"
"Every couple of months."

Just like me. Every couple of months.

I said, "Will you sit so that I can see that you are carrying and include that in my shot?"

He did.

I said, "Thanks. I wanted to take the picture to remind me about stereotyping, and that we are more alike than we are different."

"But," I continued, "If you'd been carrying an AK-15 I wouldn't have asked if I could take your picture."

We both laughed. So did Janie.

As I got up to pay, Rusty said, "God bless you."

"You too," I said.

Good thing I drove those extra miles for my pedicure. I would have missed the higher education.