I am never late for a show. That’s my habit.
However, this one time, due to unforeseen circumstances, it happened. I reached the theatre hall barely before the third bell was to be rung. I searched for my seat. (The kind usher was happily chatting away about the pros and cons of the play. I didn’t have the heart to interrupt his conversation. Would you?) Finally after 30 long seconds I found it.
“Ummm, excuse me but you’re on my seat…”
A polite request to get someone out of your seat..
“Can’t be… Here’s my ticket…”
A polite answer to someone who’s faking his way into the theatre…
“Well, we have a confusion here. Two tickets with the same number… Ok, there are two options.. Either we go and complain to the authorities or you move in and let me sit. Whatever happens later, shall be taken care of later, wot say?”
He wasn’t looking at me when I said those words. The instant I competed them, he turned and said –
That’s it? That’s all he had to say? Well I couldn’t stand there arguing with him. The show was about to start. I decided to move into the other seat and pushed my way in. I did not forget to give him the you-have-landed-in-a-soup-buddy glare which he reciprocated with the ok-so-sue-me glare.
Before I could turn the war of glare into a war of words (my favorite) the lights began to dim, indicating that the play was about to start. I decided to shut up and watch the play. I had heard that the start of the play was a treat for the eyes.
So I started to concentrate when suddenly I heard a whirring sound. I tried to ignore it but the sound persisited. Finally I turned to see my neighbor holding his cellphone in his hand looking at it buzz intently as if it was something of a pleasure toy… Irritated I chided him saying –
“Why don’t you attend the goddamn call?”
“It’s my wife. She’s expecting me back home any moment now. If I answer it she’ll know I amn gonna be late. If I cancel it, she’ll think I’m partying. The only option is to let it ring so she’ll think I am driving.”
“Ok, Ok, but can’t you atleast turn the noise down?”
“Duh… It’s on vibrate mode, dumbo!”
“Duh… I know, but padding it between your palms might help”
Suddenly there was this flash of light, and the stage was filled with light. The characters had begun to appear one by one and the scenes had started. DAMN!!! I missed it…
“What happened?” he asked the question as coolly as you would ask ‘What time is it?’
“You made me miss the beginning… I waited for so many days to watch this play. Thanks to you, now I’ll have to come again, which is next to impossible…”
“As I sat there muttering under my breath trying to concentrate on the play, he leaned over and said. Don’t worry think about it this way, you are actually helping the producers earn some money.”
“Yeah! And in the process losing mine, you… you… moron”
I settled for moron. I wanted to say something better but, I settled for moron. He turned to me coolly and said –
“Well, that’s your lookout.”
“Sshhhh!! Quiet, we are trying to watch the play, Why don’t you boys go out and fight?”
Boys? The damned old hag had the nerve to call me a boy? Wait till the intermission is announced. We’ll see who’s a boy…
I continued to watch the play of colours on the stage. The play and its actors were in full swing. Everyone was enacting his part beautifully. It was the moment of truth, the moment when the hero is about to discover that the murderer is none other that the selfless uncle, whom he doted upon since his birth, the grand finale o emotions, the touching saga complete, the most emotional scene when suddenly I …
“You actually dared to bring a packet of wafers inside a theatre hall?”
“Ummm, Yes, I guess, as you can plainly see…”
“Do you even have a slight idea as to how irritating that is?”
“Is this your first time in the theatre?”
“Yes, I guess?”
“Do you understand English? Didn’t you read the prohibition notice?”
“No, what was it about?”
I was highly irritated by now, add to that his intellectual inferiority was beginning to grate my nerves… I could blow up anytime. Suddenly I was reminded of a scene on a local channel where they showed irritated cinema hall patrons on candid camera. Then I realised this was a shoot for maybe another candid camera sequence.
So I decided that I would be the coolest customer this guy had ever encountered. I snatched the packet of wafers from him and started munching on them as loudly as I could. I offered some to him as well. I could distinguish the horror on his face and another emotion which I classified as “pure, unadulterated terror.”
His mouth open in awe, he looked a very funny sight. I bade him shut his mouth while munching as loudly as my jaws permitted. Sometime later even they began to ache. So I searched around and sure enough I found a bottled soft-drink. I picked it up and slurped it as noisily as I can. And soon enough before, I could finish the wafers and the soft drink, the first act folded. (I think I actually saw one of the actors on stage glaring at me when the curtains were falling.) The intermission was announced.
He yanked me out of my seat and nearly dragged me into the lobby. I was smiling all the way to other patrons who were throwing disgusted looks at me. When we reached the lobby he screamed,
“What the f**k do you think you are doing??”
“Giving you a helping hand!! Damn this one would make a nice reel for primetime, eh? I mean, the sound of me munching wafers was so rhythmic and the slurping was a once-in-a-millenium event, eh?”
“Prime-time? Helping hand? Do you even realise, you almost killed the show? This ain’t no stupid candid-camera sequence, you ass**.”
It was my turn to stare at him with my mouth agape, wafers falling…
“You mean…. this wasn’t… it was… I mean…. I didn’t… This…. I…. you…. No hidden camera?”
“Damn!! Why were you doing the stupid things then??”
“That was so that my actors could get a feel of bad, worse and worst audiences. Needless to say, you have excelled yourself at that. You have been the most perfect jerk I could have ever enacted.”
“You? Enacted? You mean you are an actor with the troupe?”
“Actually,” he said rather sheepishly, “I am the director of the play. I had decided without letting them know that I would make tem suffer the worst audience in this play. I had planned on some minor ‘events’. But I guess, you took the cake!!”
“And the wafers…” I blurted…
“Life is not always what it seems to be – sometimes even we have to play the role of an audience to be recognised as heroes”
– Born Stinger.