I ran to the bus stop on 69th Street in Friday night’s downpour just as the B9 was turning off Fourth Avenue.
Excellent timing, I thought, as I fell in behind a woman lugging a pair of shopping bags. I felt lucky to make the connection, but my traveling companion looked across the aisle at me as soon as we sat down and shook her head.
“Last bus driver wouldn’t stop,” she told me in a pronounced Russian accent. “Driver close door in face!”
It seems she had been waiting for the B64, which had come by a few minutes earlier. The driver of that bus, however, didn’t feel like picking up passengers apparently and left her high and dry—in the pouring rain.
“I bang on door,” the Russian lady told me. “I wave at him. But he don’t stop. I don’t like to curse, but I shout, ‘you asshole!’”
I listened to her story and tried to comfort her. It certainly sounded outrageous and even our bus driver muttered some kind of apology on behalf of his inconsiderate coworker.
I was in a good mood and happy to lend a sympathetic ear. I had a fun evening, which I had salvaged from the gaping jaws of mediocrity.
I had originally planned to do the usual Friday night routine: make some excuse for not going out, after which I would go home and eat supper in front of the TV.
I sat at my desk and trotted out the list: I was tired. I had to go out the next day. I didn’t want to get rundown. I didn’t want to get caught in a storm. And I received the latest Game of Thrones DVD from Netflix.
It would be a great night to stay home and take in some tube.
But I knew that wasn’t true. If I went back to my apartment, I was certain that I’d end up sitting in my living room kicking myself for staying at home. I was tired of slamming the door in my own face.
Then at about 4pm, I got my weekly email from the event-planning duo of Gemini and Scorpio. These women have a knack for tracking down some of the freakiest events in town and I saw something in this week’s edition that I had to investigate.
There was a show called The Dream of the Red Chamber being performed at the Brill Building on 49th Street. Described as “A Performance for a Sleeping Audience,” the show actually invites people to come in, stretch out in a bed, and, well, go to sleep.
The show was running from 5pm to midnight on Friday and then again on Saturday from 5pm to 6am Sunday morning.
It was just too nutty to ignore. And better yet, it was free.
Sleep It Off
However, a friend of mine, Louise Crawford, was hosting a reading in Park Slope and I wanted to go to that event, too. But that wasn’t until later and it was in the opposite direction. What should I do?
I tell you what I did—I went to both of them.
Amazing. I was just minutes from doing nothing with my evening when I turned the whole night around.
I think one of the reasons for this change of direction comes from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class I’ve been taking at the Interdependence Project.
Last week our instructor, Emily, asked us why we chose to sit in the same spots every week. Most of us—myself included--had the same answer: This is where we sat every week.
And that’s when Emily had us get up and go to a totally new location in the room. As soon as we got comfortable, Emily had us move yet again.
The point is that doing something just because you’ve been doing it all along doesn’t mean you can't change.
The Red Chamber was pretty bizarre. I walked through a gauntlet of fuzzy-screened television sets to a large basement area, where I took my shoes and got into one of several beds that were positioned around the room.
The actors walked around pretending we weren’t there, while their images appeared on video monitors mounted on the walls, and weird tonal music filled the air.
I watched for a little while before nodding off and I really don’t think I missed much.
If I had seen this show as a young man, I know I would have denounced the whole thing as pretentious bullshit and stormed out. But now I’m a little older and I understand that every center needs a fringe and that what was considered bizarre at one time ended up being part of the mainstream.
TheTimes actually covered this event, so for the first time in my life I was ahead of the curve.
I woke up from my nap, slipped on my shoes, and bounced down to the subway. I got to Park Slope a little bit late, but I caught most of the readers.
The rain started as I walked back to Atlantic Avenue and the skies really opened up by the time I reached Bay Ridge, where I met my Russian friend on the B9.
She was still pretty upset as she got off at Colonial Road. I wished her well and then rode the empty bus down to Shore Road.
The rain was pouring as I walked to my apartment and my umbrella was crumbling in my hands, but I didn’t mind. I had changed directions, did some wild stuff, and I still had time to watch Game of Thrones.