Saturday, March 5, 2011
After seeing me on Oprah, the media rushed to the opening of my play this past Thursday. Reporters, photographers and cameramen crowded the alleyway where someone left the door to that building garbage room unlocked a few weeks ago. The door was still unlocked so that's where I staged my play in which I act out every year of my life and I play all the characters. I let everyone through the unlocked door and charged everyone eighty bucks. It is a sixteen hour play after all.
My parents were in attendance so I was nervous since in my autobiographical piece, I modify the accuracy of a few events for dramatic cohesiveness. Basically, in my play, my parents donate me to NASA, fidgety and obsessive that NASA might still be sending "those poor monkeys" into space. I also play my father with a limp and an eye-patch, with the uncovered eye being a false eye that keeps rolling to the back of my head. It's excruciating to play. Especially as I keep falling off the stage.
After five minutes, the entire audience left in one big group. I assume it's because the first seven years of my life are performed in a baby language that only I understand. Of course, I had no clue everyone had walked out; I only discovered the empty chairs when, after sixteen hours of playing over one thousand and four characters (and two space monkeys), the expected standing ovation never came. I stood there in the spotlight, sweat drenched, for over an hour before I exclaimed, "Come on, that deserves a bit of an applause!" I finally decided to walk down from the stage into the audience.
ME: Are you guys hiding?
It was already one in the afternoon the day after the play began. I had to get some sleep since my next show was at eight that night.
I got home at one thirty and devoured a huge lunch (I hadn't eaten in over seventeen hours). I turned on my computer and noticed that my junk mail folder was full from not being checked for seventeen hours so I read every e-mail message carefully before deleting it just to make sure they weren't from a close friend who had recently decided to change their name to Viagra.
I then read my regular e-mail and sent out commentary on all the forwarded jokes I received. I critiqued whether I liked the tone of the humor, if the joke was appropriate for children, and how I would end the joke if I had written it myself, with some of my self-created endings / punchlines lasting over two pages. Afterward, I went to Facebook and poked back all my six hundred and thirty-eight friends. I also harvested my crops on Farm Ville. I was shocked by how much work there was to be done after being away for so many hours. I also had plenty to do on Café World and Rabbi Ville.
That’s when my wife walked in at seven in the evening after picking our two-year-old daughter from daycare.
MY WIFE: What are you doing? You’re supposed to be getting ready for your play. It starts in an hour.
ME: Oh man...
MY WIFE: My parents are coming to see it tonight and my sisters and my brother. You better be on time. They paid a lot of money to see you.
ME: I still haven’t had any sleep yet. I’m just going to have a disco nap.
MY WIFE: You get yourself on the bus now.
ME: I’m just going to put my head on this desk and I’m going to close my eyes.
MY WIFE: My family paid eighty dollars each. Get going!
ME: I haven’t slept in thirty-six hours and I just performed in a sixteen hour play!
MY WIFE: I don’t care! That’s not my fault! You get going!
ME: Man, I hate this! I hate being a star!
MY WIFE: That’s the showbiz life you chose. Now get!
I sulked out the door. It was raining. When I arrived to the alley with the unlocked door, more than fifty people holding umbrellas were already lined up for my show, including all my in-laws with my wife.
ME: Why didn’t you give me a ride?
MY WIFE: Secretly, tonight, I'd like to pretend that I'm not married to you. Please, just tonight, let me have this. Please...
I turned the knob on the unlocked door. The door was locked. I slammed the door with my fists.
ONE PERSON: Can I buy my ticket? I heard about this show from Oprah.
ME: Just everybody hold their horses. I can’t get in. I’m locked out.
MY FATHER-IN-LAW: Well, Eric, did you pay your bills? Why are you locked out?
ME: Can everyone just shut their mouths for a minute while I try and get in here?
I banged even louder on the door.
ME: Let me in! I’m begging you! Please! Please!
The door opened.
BUILDING SUPERINTENDENT: Can I help you?
ME: Yes. I have a show in here tonight.
BUILDING SUPERINTENDENT: A show? Are you the guy who left tarp and crap everywhere?
ME: Yes, that’s my stage.
BUILDING SUPERINTENDENT: All that stuff went out with the garbage this afternoon.
ME: What about my props?
BUILDING SUPERINTENDENT: It’s the garbage room; everything’s gone.
ME: You get my stuff back! You hear me!
BUILDING SUPERINTENDENT: What are all these people doing out here?
ME: I’m going to call the cops.
BUILDING SUPERINTENDENT: I’m the one who’s going to call the cops. You broke in here. Scram before I kick your ass.
The superintendent shut the door in my face. I turned to everyone. The rain continued, but harder than before. I heard thunder.
ME: Well, a show is what you came to see and a show is what you’ll get.
I started my show, and my wife and her family left after two minutes, shaking their heads to themselves. Some people stayed. I had to stop the show a few times because of passersby who paused to gawk but refused to pay for a ticket. I chased them away and then came back to perform. I continued for sixteen hours, every now and then chasing passersby away. I was so tired; I was forgetting lines and making stuff up as I went. I made one of the space monkeys die so I wouldn't have to play him anymore. I may have even chased paying customers away, threatening them. I had no clue what I was doing.
I ended up curled up in the corner of the alleyway, rain soaked, hugging my shivering body, and unable to control my chattering teeth.
ME (to whoever was still there): If anyone has access to Facebook and Farm Ville, I think my strawberries might be spoiling. And little Jeff Lowenstein has a bris today.