Last Sunday a mustachioed man in a trench-coat, scarf, and hat came into the bar. He went up and ordered a drink, then made a show of hanging his hat and coat on the coat rack by the magazine stand. He sidled up to several groups of drinkers, chatting with them as if they were lifelong friends catching up after not seeing one another for awhile. When not talking he twirled about the room with an enchanted sort of smile on his face. Whatever play he imagined himself to be in, he was most certainly the star.
On his way out the door he introduced himself as John and welcomed me to The Skylark, as if he was its mayor or something. On hearing my name his smile widened further and he asked if I was Greek JUST LIKE HIM! The fact I wasn’t didn’t dampen his spirits as he disappeared into the night. After he’d gone I went up to the bartender and asked if he knew the guy. He’d never seen him before in his life.
There are bits of theater performed in public for our benefit many times a day but when I go see the real thing I’m always taken aback at the heightened reality of it. On Thursday I went with a friend to a small theater in Old Town to see a new play. The room sat maybe fifty or sixty and the stage set was an ordinary living room. Watching and listening to actors who are close enough to touch is often an odd experience. They’re both with us and in an entirely different place, due to the words coming out of their mouths and the set through which they move, which is a few feet from our chairs, yet also miles and years away.
I felt the same way watching that mustachioed Greek at the Skylark go through the scenes of a drama only he knew the script to. We’re all that way to a greater or lesser degree; he was just acting out his inner monologue, while most of us keep it to ourselves.