Friday, August 28, 2009

Cheapskate's Night Out

I was congratulating myself on being a clever cheapskate yesterday afternoon.

In the morning, I'd located a $10 near-back-row ticket to see Carrie Fisher's one-woman show. Score!

Then I'd gotten free tickets to see The Bacchae in Central Park. Some 20 years back, someone would have to go hang around the line in Central Park all day to get our tickets. Years later, we'd have to wait at the Public Theater in the afternoon to get tickets. Nowadays, you just click on the "Virtual Line" and you know in advance if free tickets await you at the box office.

Next, I headed to get a student facial after work at Christine Valmy. These are about thirty bucks. Borderline-cheap. By that I mean, what's cheaper than getting a student facial? Not getting one at all. But I splurged.

I ran into a problem after that. I got out by 7:10 and raced to the B train to get to Central Park by 7:30. At 7:30, reserved tickets are given to the standby line.

That's when my cheapskate luck hit a snag.

The B train stopped mid-tunnel.

And sat.

And started again.

And sat some more.

I looked at my watch. Minutes ticked by.


My superstitious side chastised my prouder self. I shouldn't have been self-congratulatory earlier. My cheapskate skills were not as sharp as I'd thought.

I finally got off the train at 7:35. My tickets were gone. I worried about the friend waiting there for me. Maybe we'd just go to dinner then.

At the box office, the clerk shook her head. "Sorry, your best bet is to try the standby line."

The line stretched up the park. I got in line with my friend.

"Why not," said the man in line in front of us. "It's just a few more minutes and you're already here."

I heard an usher yelling from the front of the line, but couldn't tell what he was saying over the sax-playing busker along the path.

Oh shut up so we can hear, I thought.

"Single file" was what the usher was saying. Not "Tickets for tonight's performance are gone."

We got in. The play was odd but the staging interesting, and of course the music was by Philip Glass so I'm not complaining. A small raccoon roaming under the feet of the row of theater-goers in front of us enhanced the performance. Crickets chirped, the weather was cool and perfect, and the only irritant was overhead planes and people looking at their mobile phones.

"I must remember to do this more often," I thought.

Theater in the park. Free if you have an unlimited Metrocard.

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