New York City. Summertime.
We were at once exhausted and overstimulated.
Two of my oldest, dearest friends and I had decided to celebrate twenty-one years of camaraderie with a trip to the Big Apple. And we had made it.
As we strolled along, I’m sure I looked like most visitors to the city: wide-eyed behind my sunglasses, with my eagerness for adventure kept in check by an equally strong desire to achieve the ever-elusive quality of cool.
We arrived early in the morning and planned to maximize our time. By late afternoon we had already checked in at our hotel, toured Rockefeller Center from top to bottom, inside and out, sat in on two Tonight Show rehearsals and had our hopes for standby tickets crushed. We brushed off this last blow and strolled along once more. Cool.
Before we had embarked for the city Jon had heard of a particular play starring three Famous People. I am still not sure if he orchestrated us to walk by the play’s theatre, but we did. We bought tickets for that evening’s preview and then ate to pass the time. Jon found a nearby spot. I had one of the best sandwiches of my life, and I only include this detail because I said so about a dozen times as I consumed it. After this, we returned to the theatre.
The play began. Lights dimmed. Music rose. And there they were: the Famous People. Their performances moved me to laughter, suspense and heartache. The play was poignant and electric. I loved it.
With some argument between the three of us, my friends and I went to the stage door after curtain. Jon did not want to stay. Pris and I countered that we were in New York (poor argumentative device, stating the obvious), and wasn’t this the kind of thing we came to do? (This had not been mentioned in planning, so technically, no.) Jon had a great counterpoint: it was raining, hard, without any sign of letting up.
Somehow Pris and I convinced Jon to stay, perhaps only because he was able to duck under the awning of the parking facility next door. I had a wool cardigan and a stubborn will, and stood next to Pris in the rain.
We stood for a while. I checked my watch. Thirty minutes.
Several times the stage door gate had opened to reveal someone that was not a Famous Person.
Finally, the wonderful Tavi Gevinson appeared. The picture of patience and grace, she went to each and every person who called out to her, speaking with genuine gratitude in response to each compliment, vulnerable to the elements in a dress dotted with little pink lions.
As lovely as Tavi was, there were two other Famous People we had stayed to see; surely, we thought, they would only be a bit longer. I checked my watch again. What followed took exactly five seconds.
One: The iron gate creaks. My eyes are on my wrist.
Two: I hear a young male voice say, in a distinct tone of fatigued surprise, “Oh. You waited.”
Three, Four: I look up to see Kieran Culkin strolling past fifteen people who have waited more than forty minutes in the rain to say a mere “bravo.”
Five: Kieran pulls shut the door of a waiting vehicle. I watch open-mouthed as the SUV turns into the dark, glistening street and disappears.
We were baffled. It happened so fast. He sounded genuinely surprised that anyone had stayed around.
Yes, Kieran. We waited. Oh, well.
There was a murmur of disbelief from the remaining fans. Michael Cera, bless his heart, tried the best he could to provide closure for the situation. He had been walking behind Kieran at a similar pace, but stopped for the two or three people closest to the vehicle into which he promptly climbed.
I posses evidence of Mr. Cera’s goodwill in the form of a blurry, poorly-lit photo of Pris grinning in the foreground and Michael in mid-autograph behind her. I do not remember if Tavi was still around for this moment. I do remember her driver came over with an umbrella at some point and gradually ushered her away. He was probably worried she would catch pneumonia or something, after all that time.
Kieran Culkin must be really susceptible to pneumonia.
After all three Famous People had departed, Jon, Pris and I hailed a cab back to our hotel. We freezing; we were soaked. But we knew those three words would become part of the soundtrack to our weekend, and that was consolation enough.
“Oh. You waited.”