This was a really interesting weekend, overall.
Friday night I worked late, then met up with A. to see Next to Normal at the 2econd Stage Theatre. I have ecclectic musical tastes, but, generally speaking, musical theatre doesn't come up too often. I was subjected to a few bad shows too many times for anyone's sanity at an early age, and the scars never fully healed. I am always hesitant to engage in musical theatre for this reason. Despite the fact that I knew I would love both, I almost skipped out on Spamalot and Avenue Q for just this reason.
The show I saw Friday may have helped me renew my faith in musical theatre. The score was not perfect to my ear lyrically, but it wasn't hackneyed, nor dopey, the way I've found most contempoary "smash hits" to be. The actors were engrossing, talented, and spun a story which was marvelously engaging and thought provoking. Serious without getting tear-jerky. Macabre without being dark. Musical without being nauseating. It was an unbelieveable show, really - brilliantly written, and a rather fascinating statement on modern family life. I cannot reccomend it enough if you are looking to try something that isin't tired and rote a la Disney or Webber. It was a show with some solid heart, which left me thinking a lot afterwards.
Saturday morning found me at A's place in the UES, in search of brunch. In recent months, we discovered a little place down the avenue a few blocks, which we decided to drop by at. The fare was its usual - tasty with nice service, not too pricey. After I paid the bill, but still puttering over the dregs of coffee, A. interrupted me and pointed behind me over my shoulder, asking "Is she O.K.?!" with more than a little urgency to her voice.
in the corner of the cafe, there was an elderly woman who appeared to be having some sort of seizure. She had average length gray hair, thick spectacles, and a face which was really a mesh of wrinkles and old lady whiskers in a nice coat of makeup. Her attire was very nice, but very 20 years ago, and she had a coat and cane resting in the chair across from her. Her head was tilted all the way back (As if she had fallen asleep in her chair), her eyes were glassy and unfocused, and she was panting, and having a hard time at doing that. I hopped across the cafe, and immidiately took her pulse, which was fast, but steady. She was not perspiring, wasn't wearing a mediler bracelet or neclace, and her eyes came into focus when I cupped the back of her head and got her airway cleared a bit via posture correction.
By this point, the waiter dissapeared, saying he was going to call an ambulance, and one of the busboys grabbed a menu and started fanning the woman at 90mph trying to cool her off. Shortly after I got her head upright, I started speaking to her in a loud low voice, calmly, asking her if she was diabetic, if she had any medicine, if she needed a doctor, etc. The waiter (who is an older Spanish gentleman I've spoken to pretty much every other time I've been in this place for lunch/brunch) had been speaking to the woman earlier in Spanish, so I assumed she was ESL, and was repeating everything I was saying/asking her in Spanish.
After about a minute or two of this, she snapped back into it. I know that sounds like a cliche, but anyone who has ever dealt with people prone to seizures to any extent understands what this means. The eyes come back into focus, motor starts coming back, and self-awareness returns with a fury. Despite a trio of other seniors (one of whom had her cell phone out) seated nearby offering me insight, a busboy who I had shooed away, and a waiter who just plain panicked, but said he was going to call, nobody had called 911. It took probably two-three minutes between the time I got to her and the time she came around, which happened pretty much at the same time the manager came up from the back with a phone, saying he was going to call an ambulance, and making sure she wanted one.
Irma (names changed to protect the innocent) was outraged at the idea of an ambulance. Though she was so weak she could barely hold her head up without my help, she tapped at her bill and shouted to double the tax and charge the card, and she would be on her way. The manager was insistent about calling an ambulance, but with Irma now conscious and "with it" (though visibly weakened and not 100%), he was facing a cornered NY woman who was embarrased over the fuss, and adamant about making sure everyone in the cafe knew she didn't need an ambulance.
Irma was embarassed, for sure, and combattive with both the waiter and the manager. I asked her if she had any family nearby, anyone we could call. She said her daughter was in the Hamptons, her doctor was not on call that day, and that she would be just fine, since she lived only a few blocks away. She said she just wanted to be left alone, so she could go about her business.
I offered to walk her home, since it was "on the way" as I told her. Though aprehensive, she agreed to that, mostly because it allowed her to save face without a fuss. The help had pretty much dissapeared when she started yelling in response to the offer to call an ambulance. I went back to talk to the manager, and he was busy arguing with the waiter, who he was trying to convine to go get Irma's daughter's phone number, so he could call her. I told him what she would agree to, and told him that if there were any problems, she wouldn't be alone, and I'd call an ambulance right away.
I could tell this guy was really wrestling, but what bothered me was that I don't think it was entirely an issue of what the right thing was. I think he was worried about liability, and losing his business of a weekend midafternoon brunch to an EMT crew carting a woman out the front door. The waiter didn't have any luck getting the number, so the manager basically thanked me profusely for helping, and gave me a 25$ gift certificate "for doing a really nice thing".
When Irma was ready to move, A. and I walked her back to her apartment, which really was only a few blocks away. Along the way, I discovered that she was not ESL, but rather an affluent Jewish woman, who spoke five languages! She had most recently been teaching French at a senior citizen's home, but stopped when it "got to be too much".
We got her up to her apartment, which she was very proud of. A prewar two bedroom, two bath in the UES. She was tickled by the fact that she hung on to it so long, and that the building owners hated her because of how much more they could rent it for if she moved on. Barely a quarter hour after I was pretty sure I might be taking a trip to a hospital with a stranger, A. and I were laughing with her while she rested in her easy chair.
After the brief tour, she called her daughter, who I left a message with, explaining the situation. She was very hard of hearing, and I was worried that she wasn't getting everything we were saying (I later realized this was more the problem with communication, less the language). I left her my number, and after second thoughts, also took hers, so I could call and check up on her later that evening.
After that, we went back to A.'s place, collected some stuff, and relocated to my place.
tamisevens, I owe you an apology - dinner plans got totally over the top, and I completely missed your farewell. I'm sorry I missed you, but look forward to possibly visiting you in an exotic location soon!
Dinner was in Morningside Heights with some friends, which quickly tunred into dinner and all sorts of conversation. At one point after dinner (and after what was probably one too many drinks to get into the conversation) we started down the road of Philosophy of the mind, which always gets me going on my brain in a jar stuff.
Ultimately, I took it too far, and was kinda mean to A. trying to get my point across. I can be a real sanctimonius prick when I've argued about something more than once with a bunch of different people, and she definteily got the broadside of that part of my personality Saturday night. We managed to make up without bloodshed, but not without some revleations on my part in regards to how much I need to pay attention to what, particularly when I've had a few drinks.
Yesterday, we went up to my folks place. A. had met my dad years and years ago when I was still in HS, but she had never met my mom. We had a great time. So great, I had to extend my Zipcar to make it back without a late penalty!
Overall, the weekend had a very surreal feel to it. As we were leaving my folks place, I was looking up at the stars walking down the hill (one of the things that I miss the most living in the city, clear, cold nights full of starts) and was looking at Orion's belt. I got stuck somewhere between happiness and meloncholy - I was glad that I was in the diner to help Irma, I was glad that A. and I found a seperate piece past my verbal browbeating, and I was glad that things went well with my folks. Despite that, I couldn't help but drift back towards the impermanence of existance in the face of the stars, if, indeed, this is all real, and the cruelty of the system designer(s) if this isin't.