Brian J. Recommends

Almost 20 years ago, I saw The Visit at the, uh, Milwaukee Repertory Theater when I was in college. What, you don’t believe me?

The Visit program from 1994

Sorry, I get confused sometimes. The PAC or whatever the heck they call it now down on Wells Street was a theater complex that had a number of plays running sometimes simultaneously. Was I at the Pabst? Was I at the Caberet? Which theatre was I at that night? I went to so many.

Damn you unbelievers! Even though I was a college senior at Marquette University, I was working 50 hours a week to pay tuition and to take women to the theatre. Why, my senior year of college, I saw The Norman Conquests, all three of them, with three different women. Actually, I saw Table Manners twice with two different women because I booked them incorrectly, as the Rep was rotating them nightly and I got my nights confused.

Damn you unbelievers! Even Marquette women would let me escort them to the theater (where many had never been) when I bought the ticket (with money I made between classes and extracurricular activities and invitations to the Rep by slinging produce for 50 or more hours a week as acting manager of the Produce section of a Shop Rite). Of them, only one was a freshman kind of impressed by the attention of a senior.

So you’ll excuse me a bit of triumph here if I can’t recollect exactly which of the women who thought I was good enough for a theatre ticket as friends with which I saw this piece performed lo, those years ago.

No, what is important is the comment I made to her as we walked out: “I hate fascism.”

Heavens to betsy lou! Was it Linda, the woman-girl with whom I’d exchanged notes in the Fall semester philosophy class and who, through some miscommunication, did not know my sorta interest until the Spring? After this play, we went to a bar, and she accused me several times of patronizing her until I said, “Well, it’s all over now, you might as well drive me home.” Could be.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah, this play about Fascism and what it (metaphorically) entails is being put on by the Stray Dog Theatre in St. Louis this month.

If I still lived in the area, I’d be all on that like a stray dog on…. Well, you fill in the metaphor.

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4 thoughts on “Brian J. Recommends

  1. Actually, I saw Table Manners twice with two different women because I booked them incorrectly, as the Rep was rotating them nightly and I got my nights confused.

    At least, that’s your official story, lest anyone think that you might try to get two women to permit you to take them to the theater at the same time.

    During the more insane periods of my youth, whilst going to school* full time and working full time in a warehouse, I asked a fellow grad student out on a date. She said that she might consider going with me if I read Pride and Prejudice. I promptly picked up a copy at the library and started. It secured me two dates, but this was a bad idea because (1) it was an awful book and (2) I gave of waves of desperation to this young woman. Next, I went on a date with a woman fifteen years older than myself, which was awesome. She did not have a reading requirement. New rule: I read Jane Austen for no woman.

    *As much as library school can really be considered “school”.

  2. Cumulatively, I have seen Table Manners three times with three different women, since my beautiful wife and I saw it some years later in the St. Louis area.

    I think that total will be the final tally.

  3. “I hate fascism.”

    A deep thinker even then.


    (pauses… considers implications to man-card status… hell with it)

    I read Pride & Prejudice on my own. For fun. Twice. Loved it. Other books by Austen too.

  4. I thought I was smart to recognize the play as a metaphor for a particular political system without having to read it somewhere else. Which reminds me of an awesome story: When I was at the University, pursuing my degree in English and Philosophy, I saved a pile of money checking the textbooks out of the library. So I didn’t have the classroom editions, but I did have the primary text. When covering “Ode to the West Wind” by PB Shelley, I raised my hand and gave an impassioned plea that I didn’t understand what he meant by mixing the metaphors of Hindu and Christian scriptures since the crown of thorns was from the Bible and this other thing was from the Bhagavad Gita. Dr. Duffy said, “Well, yes, that’s in the footnotes,” and he looked over my classmates to see that I wasn’t using a footnoted edition, “But some of us are not using that edition.” I was well read even when I was reading well.

    As for Jane Austen, one really has to be in the mood. Right after I read Sense and Sensibility, I tried to jump into Mansfield Park, but the mood left me.

    My moods for Dickens and Hardy last longer than my moods for Austen and Tolstoy.

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