BroadwayGirlNYC: 'Two, Please'

 

BroadwayGirlNYC: 'Two, Please'

As summer turns to fall, and we bring out our fleece jackets and scarves, the tourist load begins to filter out of Times Square.  Almost over night, it seems there are fewer red-coated men hawking double-decker bus tours; fewer full-sized "Elmos" looking in need of a wash, taking photos with passersby for tips; and most importantly, significantly shorter lines at the TKTS booth in the square at 47th and Broadway.  The line is full of strangers, but I often find that by the time I reach the window, I've gotten to know someone who would never otherwise have crossed by path.

 

Fall is my favorite time to venture to the famed half-price ticket booth, marked by the now-iconic red steps.  New shows abound, which means I can often choose from several that I haven't yet seen.  The low prices allow me to gamble on a production I either haven't heard much about, or am not sure will be exactly up my alley.  And the crisp, pleasing fall air makes it easy to stand in line no matter how long the lines, to see what shows the TKTS gods offer up on a given day.  

 

Earlier this week, I found myself with an evening free -- which for me always means finding a Broadway show -- so without any idea what I'd end up attending, I got in line at TKTS around 4pm.  The booth had been open about an hour then (for evening performances, tickets start selling promptly at 3pm), and the line curved easily through Father Duffy Square from 47th and Broadway toward 46th, then back around toward 7th Avenue.  It appeared I'd need the wait would be about an hour, a vast improvement over the 2+ hour waits I endured several times over the hot days of this past summer! I looked around and enjoyed the variety of groups and individuals I saw, from international families to posses of teenagers, clearly delighted to be out of their parents direct care for the afternoon.

 

As I took my place in line, I said hello to a gentleman, probably 80 years old, in front of me.  I call him a gentleman because of the way he was dressed -- slacks and a vest, with a faded bow tie and worn but polished shoes -- as well as the old-fashionEd Manners that became evident as soon as he opened his mouth.  "Well hello there, dear.  I certainly hope you are having a wonderful day."  "Yes, thank you," I replied, noticing the sparkle in his eye. "Do you know what you'd like to see today?" "Well, you know, I like the musicals," he replied to me.  "I like to hear the music and see the dancers.  They're all so beautiful, you know."  I knew, I told him, and then I asked "Have you seen a lot of musicals before?"

 

Well, if he had had a sparkle in his eye before, now it was magnified ten times!  The gentleman introduced himself as Charlie, and began telling me about the trips he and his wife had taken to New York (they were from Missouri) starting in the 1950s, when they were newlyweds in their 20s.   They saw The King & I, Pajama Game and Damn Yankees; they saw My Fair Lady, Hello, Dolly!, and Cabaret.  "Every year we'd come to see a new musical," he told me.  "Harriet's favorite was Sunday in the Park with George."  Charlie shuffled forward with the line, and I watched his stooped body move forward with the slowness of years.  I was filled with sadness, seeing him there in that line, and I wondered if I should invite him to be my date for a show that night, just so he didn't have to be alone.

 

I asked the inevitable question, even though I was sure I already knew the sad answer.  I tried to be as careful with my wording as I could, but of course it was awkward.  "How long ago did you lose Harriet?"  He definitely heard the hesitation in my voice.  There was a long, pregnant pause.

 

And then it was broken: "Why, you darling girl!" Charlie laughed.  "Don't you worry one bit.  Harriet is back at the hotel, resting from a long walk we took early this morning.  This is our 35th trip to New York together in 56 years of marriage."

 

I let out a surprised and delighted laugh.  Charlie joined in.  He reached over and squeezed my hand.  "Neither of is going anywhere just yet.  We're a team, Harriet and me."  My cheeks reddened, but his laughter put me at ease.

 

Charlie moved up to the window.

 

"I'd like to see Promises, Promises," he told the woman behind the window. "Yes sir -- how many tickets would you like?" asked the tinny voice in return.

 

I never thought I'd have tears in my eyes from hearing the two simple words he uttered back.

 

"Two, please."


 



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