I Put On A Tux For This?

Last night we went to hear Tchaikovsky at Carnegie Hall. It was the culmination of my birthday celebration from back in October when Ariel first presented me with the tickets. Being that it was Carnegie Hall, and dinner at the Redeye Grill across the street from the coveted hall, I decided I’d get gussied up in a shirt and tie.

I made my train with 10 minutes to spare; my street was a nightmare of rushing traffic and my cab driver, daredevil though he can be at times (who also turned down a few other fares on the way to station in favor of his “steady”–me) could barely budge from my driveway. I met Ariel at our normal pickup spot across from Penn Station Newark, by the Burger King and he deftly skirted around the old neighborhood of the Ironbound until we successfully avoided unimaginable traffic tie ups to get to the Turnpike towards the Lincoln tunnel. I don’t know what was going on yesterday, if there was a mass exodus we hadn’t heard about, but everywhere there was traffic at a near standstill and the approach to the tunnel was no better, with morer than the 45 minute wait the radio said. Fortunately the restaurant held our 6 o’clock reservation after a call to let them know we had just exited the tunnel at that time. We arrived close to thirty minutes later. I realized the power of Wiffy was in full swing. For those of you who don’t know Wiffy, that was my dear departed beagle, whose birthday happened to be yesterday, who did everything in her power to overtake my life and vex us at every turn. Man, I miss that dog!

Dinner at the Redeye Grill was adequate, the service impeccable and the Jack Daniels Manhattans a masterpiece. No time for dessert,though, but along with the check came a complimentary plate of pink cotton candy. Man, I haven’t had cotton candy in ages and neither, apparently, had the ladies at the next table. They all squealed in delight at the sight of my beehive of spun sugar until I couldn’t take it any longer and I offered it to them. Tourists!

The first thing I did when we got to our box…yes, a box!…was take this picture, even though the taking of pictures is strictly prohibited (yeah, yeah, prohibited, schmohibited). Wiffy was still at it even inside our box, a 9-seat affair, ranging from normal chair to bar stool height. It was already occupied by one other couple, who, in their two seats completely crowded the entire box. I don’t know how that was possible. As a side, I remember calling a particular person we used to see yearly in Provincetown, whose name I didn’t know, a circle of one. He just had this aura that no one crowded him. He wasn’t ogreish or anything, just had a stance that no one seemed able to approach or penetrate. But here at Carnegie Hall, we had those two and the confusion of 9 chairs to deal with.

I was surprised to see, first of all, the location of Carnegie Hall. I had always pictured it being set off, on a grand hilltop, with an immaculately trimmed lawn, (even though I know it’s in Manhattan) with fountains spraying elegant arches of colorfully lit water, or even in just plain white, which is also nice. And I imagined the interior to be much larger and grander, much more opulent than it appeared to be.

I won’t go into detail about the music selections, but I will applaud the San Franciso Symphony’s performance of Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 and Christian Tetzlaff’s solo performance on the violin. He played through the entire piece without sheet music.

The second half started and we had settled back onto our bar stools with one additional person who appeared from nowhere but it was obviously he knew the couple there. The man, by the way, kept shifting in his mid-height chair and bumping his elbow into my knee, then shooting me a look like it was my fault. Ariel whispered in my ear to keep an eye out for the Tracy Partridge of the orchestra. A distinguished man, a member of the percussion section, proudly pecked at a tambourine with his fingers closed into an outstretched rosebud. But he really excelled when it came time to play the triangle. I sat, thinking to myself, what must he be thinking; I put on a tux to do this on a nightly basis? And then I was fixated. But the man probably makes more money than I do, so bully for him!

All in all, it was a fun evening and a great experience to finally have been to Carnegie Hall. And to answer the age old question: how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Head into the city a little earlier! And never on your devil-dog’s birthday, that’s when all the loonies are out!


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