The MTA is taking its act above ground.
During my many years of commuting, I have often seen talented musicians and some memorable characters when I ride the subways.
However, I do most of my traveling on the express bus now, where I don’t get any such entertainment or aggravation.
That changed on Saturday, though, as my sister and I were Broadway bound to see a play and were treated to an unexpected warm-up act.
We met on the X27 bus at around noon to see a new production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.
The show stars Cherry Jones, a fine actress whom we’ve seen several times, and Zachery Quinto, the new Mr. Spock in the Star Trek reboot.
When the bus pulled into a stop on 69th Street, a rather haggard young man lurched aboard and climbed over some poor woman seated in front of us so he could sit by the window.
We were getting a distinct odor of alcohol as we turned onto Third Avenue and the man was mumbling incoherently to the unfortunate lady next to him. And then he raised his voice so everybody onboard could hear him.
“Is this the bus to Atlantic City?”
We paused a second before informing this man that, uh, no, this was most definitely not the bus to Atlantic City. He wasn’t even close.
I know this isn’t funny, but I wonder just how drunk, how wasted, how incredibly polluted do you have to be in order to mistake an MTA bus for the ride to the Boardwalk Empire?
“You have to get off,” the woman sitting next to him said. “You have to get off now.”
The man stumbled to the door, where he stopped to speak with the bus driver, the other passengers and probably a few pink elephants.
The driver politely but firmly informed him that he was holding up the bus, but our would-be high roller had one more thing to share with us.
Just a stranger on the bus
“What did the ocean say to the shore?” he asked.
“What?” we all responded.
“Nothing, just waved,” he said.
And with that he shambled down the steps. Perhaps he was a comedian on his way to do a set. Whoever he was, the last I saw of him he was standing outside on the sidewalk blowing kisses at the bus.
We made it to Manhattan without further incident and took our seats at the Booth Theater. We had a nice view of the stage and fortunately the two ladies seated in front of us were quite petite.
But our luck did not extend to our own row as my sister was cursed to be sitting next to a woman who coughed as if she had just crawled out of a coal mine.
This person hacked and wheezed during the entire production. I like to dress up for the theater, but I had no idea I would need a Hazmat suit.
I know it’s not this woman’s fault, and I’ve had plenty of problems with my health over the years, but she was actually drowning out the actors on stage as she spewed her germs hither and yon.
I offered to switch seats with my sister, which ain’t easy for a card-carrying hypochondriac, but she wouldn’t hear of it.
By the second act my sister could take no more and we moved over to two empty seats in our row. At least we had something of a buffer zone.
As for the production itself, well, that was a bit of a disappointment.
Some of the actors didn’t seem comfortable in their roles and the director made some odd decisions that included having one character emerge from and disappear into a sofa like some kind of second rate magician’s trick.
Maybe we were in Atlantic City.
I love The Glass Menagerie and I believe it endures because the characters are so memorable.
But directors can employ too much trickery when staging the classics in a bid to make their work stand out. Unfortunately, they can also smother a play’s passion in the process.
After the show ended, my sister and I escaped from Typhoid Mary and dashed over to Trattoria Dopo Teatro for some delicious food, family nostalgia and plenty of laughs.
Our ride home was nowhere near as eventful as the trip in, but I’m happy to report that there were no swamp fever victims on board our bus either.
And to top it off, the Metrocard reader was busted so we got a free ride and a few extra bucks in our pockets.
I can almost hear those nickel slots calling my name…