The Glutton gets Medieval
My mom and stepdad came to stay with us over Thanksgiving. I was pretty jazzed about this because it meant I didn’t have to drive down to Washington, D.C., to see them, a nightmare of gridlock-ian proportions during the holidays. But hosting family is a lot of work. And I’m not talking about cooking the meal, because it is in everyone’s best interest if I stay as far away from the kitchen as possible. No, I’m talking about having family in your house for four days. What the hell do you do with them? As it turns out, plenty.
My wife Christina acted not only as culinary master for the weekend, but our very own Julie McCoy as well, coming up with a full schedule of events to keep everyone entertained. The first big outing was on Friday to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. Everything about this show was big — the venue, the production, and most of all, the cost. Going to the show was a tradition Christina and her mother had started when she was a little girl. One problem: the cost of a ticket then was roughly the same as a ham sandwich. Now, I was shelling out $100 a pop (at six tickets that makes $600) — all for a show we had already seen several times already. (Isn’t it time for a new tradition, like, say, watching A Christmas Story on TBS?) Refusing to pay one dollar over the already exorbitant cost, I had stood in a line in the cold for over 30 minutes the week before to purchase the tickets in person rather than pay some $66 extra in handling fees. When we arrived for the actual performance, I gave my children a speech on how we weren’t buying anything. No $20 light-up spinning wheels. No Rockette Barbie dolls. You say you need a drink? Find a fountain, kid. We settled into our seats in the second-to-last row of the orchestra and the show began. It was pretty much what you’d expect (especially if you’d memorized the program from previous performances). The Rockettes dressed up as reindeer and soldiers, Santa proclaimed New York to be the most magical place on earth, and a very depressed looking camel sauntered across the stage during the nativity scene.
Of course, this being the 75th anniversary of the show, there were some new bits as well. In fact, it was during one of them that the curtain abruptly went down and a voice announced, ”the show will continue in just a minute.” They tried to make it look somewhat planned and smooth, but it wasn’t. There was obviously some sort of technical difficulty at play. The audience sat in awkward, confused silence for about five minutes and then, without warning, the curtain rose and the Rockettes started dancing again. The audience clapped. Well, everyone in the audience but me. I looked in the program, which described the scene we were supposed to be seeing, It talked of a magical double-decker bus that the Rockettes were to board for a wintertime tour of New York City that would include ice skating and various other things of wonder and merriment. Okay, now I was kind of pissed. Was I amped to see this scene? Not particularly. Honestly, by this point, I had spent half the show daydreaming that I was a Jedi Knight enlisted by Santa to help ward off an evil posse of Elves that had turned on their master, but that’s neither here nor there. No, I wouldn’t have cared at all about missing the scene…HAD I NOT JUST LAID OUT 600 BUCKS! Hell, if I’m paying that much money I want my own damn double-decker bus.
Now I had convinced myself I had been royally screwed out of a ton of money. No matter that the rest of the family seemed pleased as punch and completely unfazed by the whole affair. Those fools! Don’t they realize we’ve been had?!? Don’t they see what’s going on here?!? Violet, I know you’re only four years old, but dammit, girl, if you’re going to make it in life, you can’t stand for this type of financial bullying! The next scene involved Santa and some annoying kids being raised on wires to offer the illusion of flying, but I was too busy plotting ways to get my money back. The usher will just brush me off. I need to find a manager. No, managers have no real power. This has to go all the way to the top. Where’s James Dolan?!? By the time we were instructed to hold up some light-up stars we had been given (half of which, including mine, did not work) for the finale, I had come to the realization that not only would my wife never forgive me for causing a scene in attempting to demand a refund, but that my children would quite possibly believe me to be a raging lunatic. So I dropped it, yet continued to quietly fume, which actually kept me quite toasty as we exited into the bitter cold of midtown Manhattan.
Determined to get my entertainment dollar’s worth, I suggested we go to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a place where tourists go to see waitresses named Kiki and Peaches sing Broadway hits as they bring you soggy onion rings. This was, perhaps, the worst place to go to get value for your money, as basic sandwiches run about $15 a pop, and most of the time our view of the performers was blocked by a ill-placed coat rack. Everyone else seemed to be having a good time, so I internalized my inner Grinch and did what you’re supposed to do during the holidays — shut up, eat, and smile. Besides, I knew tomorrow would be better.
NEXT PAGE: A trip to Medieval Times