I’m going to tell a story about Claus but I’m not being nostalgic.
Last weekend, I wanted to check out the fancy new theater up on State Street. The theater is new within the year, I think, though sometimes I’m the last to know about these things. It looks new: everything is shiny and the carpet is fresh-smelling. But that’s not all that’s going on at the AMC on State Street, oh, no.
This AMC features “Cinema-Suites.” What’s a Cinema-Suite, you ask? A Cinema-Suites is a place where you go to die happy. The official description is different; AMC decided to not include “die” in their messaging for some reason. Officially, “Cinema-Suites [offer] a grown-up atmosphere featuring in-theater dining, a full bar, and extra-comfy recliners. Enjoy handcrafted burgers, bowls, desserts, and more while you enjoy the show.” Oh, but, AMC! You’re being modest!
Here’s how it works: You get your ticket. You go into your theater. You are shown to your specific seat by an usher. You sink into the comfiest recliner into which you ever sank your tush. A table tray swings in from your right hand side. There’s a cup holder. There’s no bib, but you feel like there could be and that would be fine. There’s a button on the left side of the chair and when you push it, the chair begins molesting you in a friendly way, raising your feet up on the foot rest as it’s reclining you back. It’s not a massage, exactly, but it’s not not a massage. Then, just when you’re laughing with a tall German that this is so much fun and way, way too easy to love, a waiter — a real waiter! — comes and gives you menus.
There are delicious foods on this menu. Your waiter comes and takes your order and he will bring you what you orderedwhile you watch the movie. Hot food. Like a burger. Or a hot fudge sundae! Or — wait for this, you can’t believe this — popcorn! You can’t get popcorn at a concession stand because they bring you your popcorn on a tray. Is anyone else freaking out about this? Because I am not being sarcastic: this is amazing. I didn’t even want popcorn. I’m not supposed to eat popcorn. But I ordered some anyway because it was Claus and my last date and because they were going to bring it on a tray. A big bucket of popcorn on a tray, brought to me while I’m essentially lying in a bed, watching a Hollywood movie that cost more to make than the GDP of most of the world’s developing countries.
I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m saying it’s a heckuva town.
I am flat on my back. My goals are to eat a piece of steak and answer emails. In that order. But this morning I took a little time to write a little play. The 10-minute play is a great form. It’s just get in, get out. There are 10-minute play festivals around the country; audiences love them because in chocolate and in theater, bite-sized is probably best.
Many of you will recognize the names of famous quilters in this play; I assure you I gave each woman the script to approve ahead of time. Not surprisingly, they saw the satire as all in good fun and happily let their names be used. Resist skipping ahead to see who; it won’t make sense without reading from the start.
MARY – Thirtysomething white woman. On-camera quilt show host, designer. MARY gesticulates wildly and has an expressive face; some viewers are vocal about hating these qualities in her but what can she do? MARY has exceptional taste in footwear. Uncombed hair.
CYNTHIA – Twentysomething, in her first job out of charm school. She wears oversized red glasses that are forever sliding down her nose. CYNTHIA dreams of vacations she will not have for many years. She plays guitars at open-mics on Tuesdays.
SETTING: MARY’S office, morning.
CYNTHIA: (rushing in.) Yes, Miss Fons.
MARY: Where am I going next week? Hilton Head? Tahoe?
CYNTHIA: Omaha, Miss Fons, and Southern Illinois.
MARY: (sipping tea) I see. Southern Illinois is a rather large territory, Cynthia. Where in Southern Illinois am I going? Carbondale, surely.
CYNTHIA: Perry County, Miss Fons.
MARY: Cynthia, in the time it took you to tell me that, I have googled Southern Illinois and discovered the region is known as “Little Egypt.” Were you aware of that?
CYNTHIA: I’m afraid not, Miss Fons.
MARY: (Puts feet up on desk, chews pencil absentmindedly.) Cynthia, put on your list that every time I go to a new place, I want one fascinating fact about that place. It’s good for the blog. (Cynthia scribbles note.) Now, then. What am I doing in these places? Begin at the beginning, Cynthia. Omaha.
CYNTHIA: (shuffles papers.) You’ll be teaching “A Quilt Called Whisper” on the first day —
MARY: (dreamy) “A Quilt Called Whisper.” Now there’s a class.
CYNTHIA: One of your most popular.
MARY: It’s no wonder! It’s what a patchwork class ought to be. Classic design. Updated palette. Tips. Tricks. Color play. All with book support. They eat it up, that one. Go on.
CYNTHIA: (reading from clipboard) Trunk show in the afternoon, then a lecture in the evening. Dinner beforehand with —
MARY: Which lecture?
CYNTHIA: “A Thirtysomething Quilter Tells All,” Miss Fons.
MARY: Aces. It’s got everything, that lecture. Drama. Intrigue. A story arc. Inspiration. There’s not a dry eye in the house when I finish that one. I make them laugh, I make them cry. Can Tula do that? Kate Spain?? I’d like to see them try. Does Angela Walters have women clutching their fellow guild members in overwhelming, emotional sisterhood feelings? Can Denyse Schmidt get people pulling out Kleenex from their purses? Please! No, Cynthia, it takes that special Mary Fons sauce to get those women truly being in their folding chairs. That reminds me… Get Denyse on the phone. (CYNTHIA retrieves cell phone; hits button because, you know, speed dial. She hands phone to MARY.) Denyse! It’s Mary. How are you? Doll, I was just at RISD and thought of you… No, no. I wasn’t speaking, just, ah, driving through, you know, to get to a remote town in Delaware… Look, DeeDee, those bolts from the new collection? You know I adore them; fabulous. Right, right. Well, they haven’t arrived yet, darling, and I just was following up… What do you mean I have to talk to your distributor?! Oh, sure. Well, see if I invite you to my Christmas party in eleven months. Just… Go schedule a retreat or something, will you?? (Slams down phone.) Unbelievable!
CYNTHIA: (hesitant; quietly clears throat) The second day in Omaha you’ve got the Ohio Star Class, then a book signing.
MARY: Did you order books?
CYNTHIA: They’re already on their way. The shop is ordering rulers.
MARY: Thank god. I hate ordering rulers. I hate dealing with warehouses. Never, ever put the warehouse people on the line with me, Cynthia. Those people drink the blood of their young.
CYNTHIA: Understood, Miss Fons.
MARY: Did you know my mother had her own warehouse?
CYNTHIA: An accomplished woman if there ever was one, Miss Fons.
MARY: Those were the days, Cynthia. Before your time. You know, every once in awhile people accuse me of riding my mother’s coattails. (laughs bitterly) Do you know how hard it is to eke out a living in the quilt world today? It’s nearly impossible. The industry is glutted, swollen with the aspirations of hundreds of designers and authors, all vying for an ever-shrinking piece of the pie. Riding on my mother’s coattails… Please. I’d be a fool. Much smarter to try and make a killing in the bitcoin world. Cynthia, check the price of of bitcoin.
CYNTHIA: (taps phone) Around $300 to the US dollar, Miss Fons.
MARY: Balls. Cynthia, make a note: invest in gold this week.
CYNTHIA: (pause) Miss Fons?
CYNTHIA: With all due respect, Miss Fons —
MARY: So much due, Cynthia.
CYNTHIA: Yes, of course; with a week in the hospital and paying your own insurance as a contractor and all… Well, I’m not sure this is the time to be investing in —
MARY: Fine. Look, just finish de-briefing me. Southern Illinois. I’m getting a stomachache.
CYNTHIA: (consults contract) A one-day engagement; afternoon workshop with “Whisper” and the “You Call That a Quilt?” lecture in the evening. A large guild, maybe two-hundred or so.
MARY: Nice big audience and another fine lecture. The women of Southern Illinois have impeccable taste. I’ll tell them as much in my follow-up thank you note.
CYNTHIA: I ordered more thank-you notes.
MARY: You did? Oh, Cynthia. You’re doing a fine job. I’m grumpy this morning and I apologize. It’s the three bags of blood they transfused into me this week. Can you believe my veins are pumping with the blood of three different people right now?
CYNTHIA: (visibly recoiling) It is…strange, Miss Fons.
MARY: I feel like one of those warehouse people.
CYNTHIA: Well, you don’t look like one, Miss Fons. You look great.
MARY: That is what I pay you for, Cynthia. Buttress me! Constantly buttress me. I need lunch. Let’s go to Daniel.
On this day in 1846, Johann Gottfried Galle discovered Neptune.
You know how, when you’re flipping channels in your hotel room, and you land on an episode of The Cosby Show, it’s the same episode of The Cosby Show you saw like five years ago when you were flipping channels in your hotel room? The one where Rudy finds the baby bird, right? Yeah, me, too.
It’s the same with the “On this day in history…” thing. On this day in history, some scientist discovered a planet. Every time. Could be Venus. Could be Neptune. But it’s always a planet discovery and those guys always have three names.
I took a terrific astronomy course at the University of Chicago. (I’m taking a leave of absence from pursuing my MLA at the moment, obviously.) I learned about red shift and wrote my term paper on Pluto’s demotion, and I went to Fermilab and everyone got a little colder because the universe is expanding. It was great, but we didn’t spend any time on Neptune. Since today is Neptune’s sorta-birthday, I thought I’d find out a few things about it.
FACT: The most violent weather in our solar system is on Neptune. It’s bananas up there.
FACT: Fourteen moons. (Do you think our human experience would be significantly different if Earth had a handful more moons? Like, culturally speaking?)
FACT: It doesn’t appear that anyone who could go (read: astronauts) is planning to visit Neptune anytime soon. Neptune has made no comment, but that could be because its just trying to keep warm.