Monday, August 10, 2009

"You were moving very slowly."

Look. I don't really like light opera. I'm not much of a fan of musicals, either ("Spring Awakening" notwithstanding). But I'm a season ticket holder at a certain local theater, and this month's performance was, well, I don't quite know what it was. Wagner meets a barbecue meets the Porter Wagoner show meets a tractor pull meets...yeah. I don't know.

Still, I'm down with camp, and I figured it would be that. And so I enlisted my friend W, a Texan and a foodie, to go along. We started off with a fabulous cold, roasted chicken with a lovely mayonnaise, a bread-tomato salad, and a little wine at Café Presse. We sat outside. The breeze was cool, the sun was out, perfect! The evening was off to a great start!

Got to the theater and settled in. Check. Heard the announcement to turn off cell phones. Check. I took out my iPhone and dutifully flipped the little side switch to silence the thing and put it back in my purse. spectacle? hootenanny? started and I found my jaw tightening. Everyone around me was acting like this was the most profound thing they'd ever seen or heard, and I was just starting to analyze how that could be when I heard the tell-tale sign of someone's phone. Sigh.

How TIRESOME. I, and everyone else, started craning necks around in indignant disbelief--I mean, I wasn't so sure I liked this particular show, but it's the principle, people! It was very close to me, and the curious thing was that it wasn't a typical ringtone. It was Pink Martini! Pink Martini singing "Donde estas Yolanda" and that's no shrinking violet of a tune. All of a sudden it hit me. That was my Pandora radio on the iPhone, tuned to the Pink Martini station, and it WAS PLAYING. OUT LOUD. IN SPITE OF THE OFF SWITCH. What the...?!?!

My heart went from a dead stop to pounding out of my chest (oh, great, even MORE noise), and I fumbled with my purse and tried every possible way to turn the phone off without removing it from the muffling effect of its dark home. But, I mean, how do you turn a phone off that you think is already, you know, OFF?

I had to take it out. People are practically surrounding me with torches and pitchforks at this point (in their minds and mine), but I finally managed to turn the thing completely off.

I spent most of the rest of the first act trying to get my core body temperature and heart rate back to "normal" range, and eventually settled back into my low-grade disdain for the Teuto-Texan, Tex-Deutsch, uhhh, hybrid thing unfolding in front of me. OK, it was kind of entertaining, and there were some funny lines and songs, and so all was well.

Intermission came, the lights went up, and people dispersed. I recounted with horror to W what had transpired with the phone, and we had a good laugh.

Until a man and a woman appeared in the row in front of us, standing, looking down at me. "Are you the woman with the phone?" Oh, crap. I'm at Friedrichsstrasse border crossing. It's 1983 and I'm in East Berlin and the border guards know I haven't spent all my 25 East Marks and they're on to me, man. "Yeah, I'm terribly sorry, I didn't think it was mine, since I had turned the switch to "silence" and I..." They stopped me, disapprovingly. "You were moving very slowly." Um, well, yeah, I repeated that I, too was looking around for the perpetrator, since I had turned the switch, and... "We saw you and you were moving slowly. In such a situation you must react immediately and..." OK, now WAIT a minute. I interrupted. "Listen, I understand that. What YOU are not hearing is that I didn't think it was my phone! I had turned OFF the phone feature and somehow the radio app got activated--I don't understand myself--but I.DID.NOT.THINK.IT.WAS.MY.PHONE!" Finally, the woman seemed to get it and said I must have been mortified.

Meanwhile, she and her man friend are still towering over me, still have their arms crossed, are still speaking loudly, are still drawing attention to themselves as The Theater Grenzpolizei and me as the person trying to swim my way through the pan-Berlin sewers.

I think they finally just gave up. There's not much of a narrative arc to "earnest" and so they just shuffled back to their seats and sat down.

Oh, and the musical? The costumes were fun, and I'll never hear the word "hogtied" again without thinking of it.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Hahahahahahaha. So very very sorry I missed this!