On Saturday I went to a performance of Ghost in St. Louis. It was a matinee, which I guess means that there is an abundance of elderly in attendance. Since I was alone, I was really hoping that I’d be seated next to some sage old couple that would maybe chat with me during intermission, dishing out insightful life advice, tell me stories, complain about traffic/the temperature/the cost of beer at the bar. There was a pretty good chance of this happening, anyways, because the seats I bought were close to the stage — like, looking-into-the-pit close — and expensive, meaning that they would be perfect for elderly retired folk with bad eye sight.
Thankfully, I received my wish. Two older women sat next to me. The nearest one, a woman in her late 60, carrying a bedazzled phone and a full sandwich size ziploc of hard candies (I could already tell we were going to be friends), sat down already disgruntled with her proximity to the stage. She spent most of the time before the curtain rose showing her friend — older, probably mid-seventies, with cloud-like white hair and owlish eyes behind big round frames — pictures of her granddaughter trying on prom dresses.
“She’s just 14,” she’d sigh. “I just don’t want her showing off her boobs or her butt. She’s too young for that, she’ll have time later.”
Fifteen minutes before curtain she seemed to take notice of me — the quite young women who’d inexplicably found a seat in the front row. “We’ll be your date,” she said. “Are you here alone?”
I told her I was, that I went to college a few hours away, and had bought the tickets on a whim in December, as a sort of Christmas gift. “None of my friends would want to go,” I told her sheepishly. “And I’m trying to learn how to do things by myself, anyways.”
“That’s a very good thing to do!” she assured me, her friend nodding. They proceeded to ask me about myself — the usual where, who, what, etc. My favorite was when she asked, “What are you majoring in?”
Anthropology and English, I said, and with narrowed eyes she asked what I planned to do with that. Most people take English without an education focus as whimsy, and Anthropology just stumps them altogether. Meekly, I told her curating, or archaeology; my usual answers when asked to produce a legitimate career option. With a satisfied nod, she sat back.
We continued to talk until the show began, again at intermission, then as we waded up the aisle to leave. Mostly we discussed shows we’d liked, going to Broadway, the benefits of living in suburbs, and how we liked the production. It wasn’t a particularly impacting interaction, really, but it was nice. I’d gotten my wish of aisle mates, I’d survived navigating St. Louis by myself, and, most importantly, I took myself to do something entirely by myself and I still had a good time. All in all, it was a successful day.