Have you ever been to John’s Grill on Ellis Street?
Wait, let me rephrase that. Have you ever been to John’s Grill on Ellis Street in the middle of a rainstorm in December, shoved up against a Christmas tree and an autographed photo of Willie Brown while a giant woman in a fur coat tries to squeeze past you?
Yeah. That’s what I thought.
I met my parents for dinner before Billy Crystal’s closing night show at the Golden Gate Theater, shocked to find the restaurant I’d passed a million times and deemed shady and geriatric instead, a hopping, old time fantastic find. I could drag my folks to Town Hall and Frisson in my pathetic and desperate need to be cooler than everyone else, but when I have the sense of mind to leave it up to my dad, he drags me to some prohibition era joint that’s significantly more fabulous than anything my crowd could come up with.
We hightailed it to the theater, stomping in the pouring rain for three blocks while huddled under one solitary umbrella. It was actually kind of fun, hanging out with my folks on a Saturday night. They’re funny and loud and have gossip and credit cards. And even though I’m 27 years old, they’d still let themselves get soaked so I could have the lone umbrella. Now that’s love.
Although, screw them. They were in matching Burberry trench coats, I was in an Old Navy military jacket and twelve dollar shoes.
The show was great, although having purchased tickets so late, we were in the second to last row. My father, who refuses to fly coach much less sit in a balcony, was horrified and apologetic. I think they forget that I’m poor. I was just happy to eat free food and sit in a warm theater. Although, at intermission, my folks departed for the bar and I stayed in our seats, forced to listen to the following conversation between several couples directly behind me:
“What movies was Billy Crystal in?”
“City Slickers 1 and 2.”
“Oh, and that Harry Met Sally.”
“City Slickers came first.”
“No it didn’t.”
“What about the Princess Bride?”
“Oh, that’s a fantastic movie.”
“Wasn’t it a book, first?”
“I’m pretty sure it was.”
“It was definitely not. It would never work as a book. It only works as a movie.”
“Didn’t Kojack do the voiceover?”
“I think it was a book.”
“There’s no way it was a book.”
“I really am positive it was a book.”
“I’ll bet you money it was never a book.”
About to explode, I had no choice but to intercede. I turned around:
“Actually it was a book first.”
“What does she know?”
“Oh, ignore him. He’s a lawyer. He thinks he knows everything.”
“Yeah. What does she do?”
“I’m a theater producer.” (This is technically true. I’m really an Associate Producer, but he doesn’t need to know that.)
“If you’re a producer, why don’t you have better seats? Where do you work?”
I told them.
“Oh, that’s a big job. That’s a really impressive operation. But we never go. Too many people. No one we know goes, really.”
Nice. “Oh, okay. Anyway, The Princess Bride was a book.”
“No it wasn’t.”
I couldn't stand this guy. “Yes it was. It is! It’s a book by S. Morgenstern re-written by William Goldman. And Peter Falk kind of did a voiceover. He played the grandfather reading his sick grandson THE BOOK.”
“See? I told you.”
“I still don’t believe her.”
Oh my god, I hate this guy. I hate this guy more than I’ve ever hated anyone in my life. All I could think of was the scene in Annie Hall where Woody Allen is standing in line, forced to overhear someone incorrectly pontificating on the meaning of a book, so he imagines the author of said book suddenly emerging and sternly correcting the guy.
Thus, I sat in my seat and imaged Billy Crystal bounding up the stairs to the second to last row, coming all the way up here to say hi to me, his close personal friend, the theater producer. And he’d make a huge deal about me, congratulating me on my many successes and telling me how fabulous I am. Finally, before he had to run backstage and continue the show, he’d turn to the folks behind me and say, “Okay. When Harry Met Sally was way before City Slickers, The Princess Bride was most definitely a book, and you, sir, have no idea what you’re talking about.“ Then, he’d turn back to me. “And you, dahling, you look marvelous” before disappearing back into the crowd.
Sadly, that didn’t happen.
I willed the lights to dim, and spent the rest of the show thinking of bitchy comebacks to say to the jackass sitting behind us, lamenting the fact that Rob Reiner wasn’t somewhere in the vicinity to come to my rescue or better, Wallace Shawn to lean over and scream, “Inconceivable!”
The show ended, I ignored the folks behind us and we headed out into the pouring rain, hiking up to Grand Café for a drink. We piled into the bar to find the very good looking, very well dressed and very drunk after-party of a fancy pants wedding. There were a million groomsmen, all of whom relatively gorgeous and in various stages of tuxedo removal; jackets off, bow ties untied, martinis in hand. I’ve got to say, that’s a great look for a guy, that whole "end of a black tie evening" look, throwing credit cards on the bar and screaming, “Just leave it open” at the bartender. But these guys were too good looking, too cocky, too well-dressed. It was like the entire bar was filled with lesser Kennedy cousins.
My mother leaned over. “There are lots of guys in here, Beth.”
“Yeah mom. But these are date rape guys.”
“These are the kind of guys that put roofies in your Belini. These are the kind of guys that tell you how great and wonderful and funny you are, and then rip you apart to their friends. These are the kind of guys that screw hotel maids in supply closets and bitch out busboys. Sure, they’re cute and well dressed. But they’re assholes.”
She looked around again, noting the overwhelming air of entitlement and unwarranted façade of confidence.
Mom and I stood by the door, waiting for my chivalrous father to get the car and pick us up.
"That was fun tonight."
"Yeah. It totally was. Thanks for taking me."
"You're very welcome. Oh, there's dad. Let's go."
I took one last look around the bar, thinking about the jackass behind me in the theater and the tuxedoed date rapers and it suddenly occurred to me.
Rodents of Unusual Size? Apparently, they DO exist…