After three years of pandemic small world-ness, I was yearning for a trip “home.” Thirty-six months away from NYC, my childhood and forever spiritual home, was too long. An eternity. Now, finally, we were heading back. The plan: five days, seven shows. What could go wrong? Winter trips to the Big Apple were an annual anniversary tradition. We went for theater, museums, family, friends, food, and non-stop city walking. But when the pandemic struck, our trips — like everybody’s — were put on hold.
But this year, I thought I’d burst from homesickness. Plus, I was at peak excitement about the array of great new shows on Broadway. And Handsome Hubby, poor work-a-holic HH, needed a respite.
So, when he suggested we resume the annual anniversary trip tradition, I jumped with joy.
We booked the hotel and flight reservations. Easy. We notified family and friends to clear their calendars. Easy.
Five Days, Seven Shows
Then, I settled down to the serious business of procuring show tickets. Some people don’t take this task seriously. I do.
For me, obtaining good — make that, great — show tickets is one-part science, one-part art. It demands the strategic and tactical skills of General Schwarzkopf, the patience of Job, and the negotiating skills of the late famed labor negotiator John L. Lewis. Plus, nowadays it also takes the combined wallets of a Rockefeller and a Bezos.
The steps are multiple, tricky, and treacherous — a delicate marital balance of my “superior” artistic sensibilities and HH’s humble tastes!
Step 1: Figure out the MUST-SEE plays and musicals.
This involves days of careful research and consultation. My sources of information are many — The NY Times, Playbill.com, and my BFF-in-show-going, Laura S.
Step 2: Determine which shows HH might enjoy or tolerate or at least not hate.
My man loves me, but not talky, probing dramas, especially long ones without intermissions.
Ticket Buying Game
From an initial list of nine must-see productions, I narrowed this trip’s list to seven. It’s always an agonizing process akin to Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You recall what a bear it was for dear little Goldie to find the items that fit and tasted “just right?” That’s akin to the pain I suffer winnowing down the list of shows I was dying to see versus those which would kill HH to sit through!
Then, after selecting a palette of mutually satisfying shows, comes the next task:
Step 3: Securing the best seats for each show.
For me, “best “seats equal seventh-row center. But for HH and his Restless Leg Syndrome, seventh-row center equals torture because it means being stuffed in a tiny seat with little leg room. He is, sadly, an aisle man.
Under the best of conditions, seat selection is a nerve-wracking, multi-screen mission that few, but the zealous will endure.
Now, for the fainted-hearted, flashing screen warnings declaring “You have seven minutes, 30 seconds to complete your transaction” is cause for alarm, but for “get the best seats in the house or die” ticket purchaser me, those warnings are catnip. “Bring it on, Ticketmaster. I’ve got show ticket buying game, baby.”
In the “best seats” scramble, I long ago abandoned the need to buy two seats together. However, since marriage, HH insists we sit together! How romantic but he’s missing the point: it’s all about the love of the show, not setting the stage for post-performance sex!
In any case, after Herculean exertion, I procured our tickets … in primo locations if I do say so myself! We were all set to see Leopolstadt, Kimberly Akimbo, Some Like It Hot, Ain’t No ‘Mo, Ohio State Murders, Straight Line Crazy, and Topdog/Underdog.
Sound the trumpets! Let the plays begin, I mean, let the anniversary trip, commence.
We were both excited. And to tell the truth, I wasn’t just happy for the long-delayed return to my hometown, but for the chance for HH to get a much-needed break. He had been working harder than usual. So, with show tickets securely in place, I switched my focus onto art exhibits and restaurant picks — the stuff HH most enjoys in NYC.
The Trip Begins
Day One went well: an amazing art exhibit, belly-busting Greek food, and a show we both enjoyed followed by Cuban black bean soup for a late-night dinner.
Day Two was fun, but somehow a little off. HH was a tad grouchy which is unusual for my sweet-tempered man. He was cold and, instead of walking everywhere, he insisted on taking cabs. We got through the day and evening, but HH wasn’t himself.
At 5 a.m. on the third morning, HH woke me and said, “I just took a COVID test and tested positive. We need to get a second hotel room on the off chance you don’t have it.”
I tested negative and spent the rest of the trip without HH seeing shows and friends, going to museums, and generally having a great, albeit weird, time. I ferried food and medication to my lonely, coughing, aching, miserable husband, isolated in his hotel room watching basketball games and answering office emails.
The hotel staff was lovely. They sent up an electric tea kettle with tea and honey. The maid kept leaving fresh towels and boxes of tissues at the door. The hotel kindly didn’t charge us for the second hotel room!
Thankfully, HH recovered quickly but it obviously wasn’t the relaxing romantic anniversary getaway we had planned. It just shows you the course of love — or vacations — is never smooth. Oh, well, the shows were great and HH did like the ones he saw. And we’re planning an encore trip for the Spring. Hope and flowers bloom eternally!