Sunday night ended with me leaning against a bar, drinking a beer and discussing the intricacies of breast augmentation with a drag queen named Veronica Cummings.
The evening began much more innocently. My sister K just turned 20, so B, K, and I celebrated by getting tickets to Avenue Q. The show was so great!! If Rent and Sesame Street were to meet and make sweet sweet love, Avenue Q would be their slightly off kilter progeny. The musical stars puppets and live actors, and features such classic songs as "The Internet is for Porn," "It Sucks to Be Me," and, my personal favorite, "What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?"
The story follows Princeton, a recent college graduate, as he navigates his introduction to the “real world.” We witness the naïve young puppet deal with issues common to many in their mid-twenties; the pain of crushed hopes and dreams, the pros and cons of casual sex, and the bitter shame of having to borrow rent money from your parents because it turns out your English degree only comes in handy when you can no longer afford toilet paper. Tell it like it is, Princeton, tell it like it is.
Before the show started I ran into S and J, two people I recently met here in Madison. S is the cousin of a good friend of mine. A few weeks ago we got set up on a blind-friend-date, an event comparable to a blind-date in that it was complete with multiple wardrobe changes and palm sweat (at least on my end). S brought her roommate J along when we met for drinks, and the three of us had a great time. It turns out that J knew somebody that knew somebody that knew the cast of Avenue Q, so they invited me to go out for drinks with everyone after the show. The practical, Miss Marie side of me said you're exhausted already and you have to work tomorrow and you're not particularly socially adept even at the best of times so don't go and be all awkward. Party Marie told me to shut the hell up and say yes because it's not everyday that I get the chance to steal a fancy puppet. So I agreed to go.
Let us sidetrack for a moment here to ponder the wonderful things that can come from saying yes. I've made it a practice in my adult life to say yes as much as possible, especially to things that are outside of my comfort zone. Want to sing karaoke? Yes. Want to be a part of this anti-war dance? Yes. Want to move to Australia without a job and no money and nowhere to live? Yes yes yes. I've made it a practice to say yes when I can and then see where it gets me ... and while nobody ever again needs to hear me try to turn "Papa Loved Mama" into a ballad, "yes" has gotten me to some pretty great places.
On Sunday it got me to Club 5, Madison's premier gay dance club. While fog machines churned and disco balls spun, I learned the minutiae of puppetry from none other than Robert McClure, the actor behind Princeton's angst-filled journey. He told us about puppet-camp, where stage actors were trained in the art of puppet manipulation. "You'd figure the first step is opening their mouths so that it looks like they're talking," he said of the puppets. "It's not! The first step is drawing the puppet back, so that it looks like it's inhaling before it speaks ... there are millions of mannerisms to learn before you even get to talking."
I learned puppeteering tips from Robert McClure, I drank Pepto-Bismol colored drinks with new friends, I danced to techno-remixes of old Cher hits ... I even got a high five from Lexy Fridell for a well timed Mariah Carey joke. I had a weirdly wonderful time.
The night ended with me leaning against a bar, drinking a beer and discussing the intricacies of breast augmentation with a drag queen named Veronica Cummings. "I want mine to look exactly like yours," she said. "Can I feel them so that I know what consistency I'm going for?"
That, dear readers, is when I explored the benefits of saying "no."