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A Royal Oak Recluse in the Big Apple

The Big Apple, Broadway and a baptism are a marriage trifecta.

A Royal Oak Recluse in the Big Apple A Royal Oak Recluse in the Big Apple A Royal Oak Recluse in the Big Apple

Over the years travel has been a big part of my job, so when I'm home, I'm content to order a pizza and split some microwave popcorn with Kathy for a weekend’s entertainment. As our children have left home one by one, we've entered the unfettered phase of our marriage, and the lovely Kathy doesn't always agree with my assessment of a fun evening—weekend after weekend after weekend. 

I think I started to catch on when Kathy said something like, "OK, Mr. Entertainment, adding some zest to popcorn isn't exactly what I'd call being spontaneous and fun."

While I may be slow, I'm not a complete idiot, so I changed. We started having official date nights. Since we had a rather short courtship when we first met over 33 years ago—we met in June and were married in December—I needed a little date training.

I learned that it's not a date if:

  • I'm wearing sweat pants and T-shirt, even if the T-shirt has a pocket. (Who knew?)
  • It's not a date if I stop at a car wash.
  • It's not a date if I yawn before 10 p.m. 

It is a date if Kathy gets to dress up and we valet park. And it's definitely a date if dancing is involved.

I also learned that business trips, if properly planned, can be combined with personal trips and you get triple-bonus-dating miles for this effort.

So over the weekend, we headed to New York City and combined a visit to my office with a night in Manhattan and two Broadway shows. Then we headed over to Suffern, New York, a NYC suburb, to spend the weekend with our daughter Moira and her husband Mike Clark. More importantly we spent time with Eli, our youngest grandson, who was baptized this past Saturday.

I'm guessing by the smile on Kathy's face, I'll be able to watch sports on the basement television for arranging this marriage trifecta!

We had a grand time. I love visiting NYC. It's the best people-watching city I've ever visited. My trip always begins with a visit to our office and a hug from Doris Catapano, who manages it. Doris is a resident of Queens. Spend five minutes with her and you feel like you know all New Yorkers.  Yes, she's a Yankee's fan, but nobody's perfect.

I still recall my first business trip to New York in the early '80s. I was in awe walking down Fifth Avenue in front of the Plaza Hotel and Central Park. I took an evening walk and at one point a very tall woman, wearing next to nothing, sidled up next to me as I walked past the Waldorf Hotel.

"Hey there, handsome, you looking for a good time?" she asked.  I turned and saw that this person not only had a lot of cleavage showing but a five-o-clock shadow.  I was flummoxed and pretty sure I was blushing with confusion.

"No sir, I'm already having a good time, but thank you for asking," I believe was my reply.

She or he, I'm still not sure which, turned on his or her five inch heels and huffed away.

As always, we thoroughly enjoyed the shows on this visit, seeing two very good musicals, Once and Newsies, which I would recommend to anyone. Newsies is a cult favorite in our family, with all four of our kids able to sing the entire score from the 1992 Disney movie, which semi-bombed at the box office.

Because of Kathy's influence, I see a lot of theatre and I've learned to appreciate the incredible artistry of those who practice theatre arts.  These folks are so gifted and when singing, dancing and acting talents are married with set design, costumes, storytelling and musicians in a theatre with an eager audience, the result is magical.  Whatever may be wrong with us human beings, it's made right with a night in the theatre where anything can happen.

The lead actor in Once, which is a delightful interpretation of independent film, asked for a moment to speak after the standing ovation ended. He thanked the audience for the generous applause and told us this was a very special performance for him, as it was his first night back after a week off to be with his mother who had passed away after a 13-year battle with breast cancer. The entire cast, and much of the audience, was in tears as he offered a touching tribute to his mom.

But you don’t have to go to New York to see great theatre. We're also blessed that in our area we have wonderful theatre opportunities, including our hometown and other local theatre troupes who provide great theatre experiences, as I'm often reminded by thespian and fellow  alum Bill Dixon. 

My own personal acting career peaked before it started. I was the Wizard of Oz as a freshman in a St. Mary High production as a last minute stand-in. At least I was the right height!

From there I was Franz, the evil Nazi butler in the Sound of Music, as a sophomore and a chanting Buddhist monk in The King and I as a junior.  Not exactly the right trajectory, was it? We were blessed to have our productions star two gifted performers. Eileen Weiss teamed up with Peter Donahue in each of those plays.  Peter is now Father Peter Donahue and the President of Villanova University.

I'd like to write more, but my grandson is asking me to sing him a medley of my favorite tunes and that's the best audience an old actor like me can have.

Its Monday...let's go!

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