The Kate turns 10 this September and we want you to be a part of making the year special!
Since our very first days, many friends have told us about chance encounters with Katharine Hepburn, a favorite show they’ve attended, or a special moment while volunteering at the Kate. From a brief narrative to a long tale, personal or shared, sentimental or amusing – we want to hear from you! Read some of the wonderful submissions we’ve received so far and follow the link to share YOUR KATE STORY! (you can include a photo or video when completing the form).
To share via social media, tag us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thekate/), Instagram (thekate_ct), or Twitter (@Cometothekate) and use the hashtag #mykatestory
From Laurie C. Prizzi: My first time to the Kate was July 2017. To see Al Anderson. My cousin Nelson Cecarelli invited me to go along with him and his wife Jory and sister Bonnie. It was a Great Night I will never forget. My beloved cousin passed away Jan 2018. He loved Al and the Kate. A wonderful memory. He insisted I have my picture taken with Al. I cherish this as every time I see it I recall how special our evening was.
From an anonymous friend: The very first show my husband and I attended at the Kate was the 200th show, which was Pure Prairie League. What an awesome show. Ever since that show we have been hooked on the Kate. We have attended many shows and will continue on coming back to the Theater.
From Wilma Brewer Asch: Our story begins in the summer of 2002. At that time, I was Executive Director of the Economic Development Commision with an office in the new Town Hall. Michael Pace was First Selectman and Torrance Downs was a member of the Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency. Torrance and I were walking down the hall when Michael Pace said, “Just a minute you two. I want you to do that building” pointing to the old, empty Town Hall. We formed the Town Hall Building Restoration Committee, which is now the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center. Committee members included Chairman Walter Hirsch, Vice Chairman Wilma Brewer Asch, Selectman Velma Thomas, Secretary Elaine Staplins, Torrance Downs of CRERPA, and Roland Laine , Executive Assistant to the Old Saybrook First Selectman. The Building Committee selected Thomas MacDonald and Lisa Macartney of East Wharf Architects to design the building. Our mission was to create an exterior and interior of classic elegance. We were granted permission by the Estate of Katharine Hepburn to name the building in her honor. Several candidates were interviewed for Executive Director. Chuck Still was selected. The Kate opened in 2009.
From Gregory Burr: When I was 10 years old in 1969 (give or take a year), my family, consisting of my mother, father and my brother, attended Mass at St. John’s Church every Sunday morning. After Church we usually stopped at Cumberland Farms (across the street from Main Street School) on the way home to pick up milk, The Hartford Courant, and sometimes a box of donuts. On this particular Sunday our mother gave my brother and I a $5 bill to go in Cumberland’s and get our usual Sunday morning “stuff”. When we were in line to pay there was a woman and a man ahead of us in line. I thought these two were a little strange. My brother and I, perhaps 10 and 6 years old, were dressed in our “Sunday Clothes”. The woman in front of us had slippers and a light green housecoat on. The man had purple pajama bottoms and a shirt and boots on. I thought this was strange to see two such disheveled looking people out on a Sunday morning. At that age I thought everyone got dressed up and went to Church on Sunday mornings. When my brother and I got back in the car, my mother informed us that we had been standing in line behind Katharine Hepburn. When we left Cumberland Farms we were driving directly behind Kate and her guy companion. They were in a 1940’s something jalopy that looked like it was falling apart, they were in front of us as we headed home. We lived in Knollwood Beach, so we were heading in the same direction as them. I remember the light in front of the fire station being “red” and we were directly behind them in our Ford Falcon. When the light turned green, Kate’s car spewed the thickest plume of pitch grayish black exhaust smoke that I have ever seen in my life, to this day. When we got to Maple Avenue we turned right and Kate continued straight toward Saybrook Point, no doubt on her way back to Fenwick.
From Kevin Fitzpatrick: I’ve been a Karla Bonoff fan for over 40 years and have seen her in a number of settings so I was excited when I got the email announcing her show at The Kate. I got tickets immediately and was excited driving up. We had a fabulous experience prior to the show at The Red Hen, walked over and were immediately delighted to walk in and see the terrific facility. Everyone was smiling, we were directed to the most comfortable seats (third row) and as the lights dimmed were blown away by the fabulous acoustics in the hall. The show was wonderful, the availability of adult beverages also a great plus. We live in Norwalk and it actually took us less time, and a more pleasant trip, than going to a show in the city. Great folks, amazing facility I’m sure Ms. Hepburn is smiling.
From Dave Moretti: This was back in the mid 80’s when my wife and I first moved up to Saybrook (newly married). It was a Saturday afternoon when we decided to go see a matinee in town, which we did not do very often. Sitting a row ahead of us was Kate and friends. I’m sure this was not an uncommon occurrence in Saybrook, it was just that the movie was “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” We thought this to be an odd movie for a former Hollywood Starlet like Katharine Hepburn. Aside from the occasional “opening the door” for Kate at local businesses.
From Barbara Munck: May 14, 2015, Steep Canyon Rangers. Last date night with my husband Don as a week later he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died a little over a year later in August 2016.
We were huge bluegrass fans in the 1970s, attended many performances and festivals, and even had a bluegrass band play at our wedding in 1983. This was not the first time we saw the Steep Canyon Rangers: Podunk Bluegrass festival in East Hartford, ROMP Bluegrass Festival (with Steve Martin) in Owensboro, KY. The music always brought us joy and lightened our day. We LOVED The Kate! We marveled over all the old posters and memorabilia, felt the space was intimate and comfortable. We arrived early and had a lot of time to explore the space. Since we had heard them before (including at workshops during bluegrass festivals) we felt we knew them and all were our friends even though we never met. It felt like home.
I look back now on such a loving evening with my husband with great joy and comfort.
From Deborah Lewis: I worked at a small bookstore in Saybrook one summer in high school. It was next door to where Liv’s is now. A woman came in, browsed around the store and purchased a book. After she left, the store owner approached me and excitedly told me that was Katherine Hepburn! I thought to myself, thankfully I didn’t pay attention. Had I realized it was her, I probably would have given her change for a $50 rather than the $5 she paid with for the book.
From an anonymous friend: Last year I attended the Peter Yarrow show at the Kate with my wife and siblings. After the show Peter was gracious with his time to greet his fans. While chatting with him he asked what we did for work. My wife and I own an optical shop in Hartford. When he heard that he let us know his favorite eyeglasses had been lost and he had searched high and low for a similar style. He gave me his contact information on his CD (for research purposes: he was pictured with the glasses on the inside cover) and the next day we were on the hunt! After several back and forth emails we were able to gift him a close replica of his favorite prescription eyeglasses. He was kind enough to treat us to lunch and amazing stories while delivering his glasses. We love the Kate and saw Frank Vignola there and have tickets for Pat Metheny as well as Julian Lage Trio. What a great place to listen to music. Thanks for bringing in great Jazz!!
From Lori Robishaw: The year was 1986 and I was a student at the Yale School of Drama. As a management student, I was part of the staff of the Yale Repertory Theatre and serving as assistant company manager for the production of “The Importance of Being Earnest.” One of the leading roles, Lady Bracknell, was played by Tammy Grimes, who occasionally stayed with Katharine Hepburn at Fenwick since it wasn’t that far from New Haven. Well, when Miss Hepburn came to see the play, everyone was all atwitter. My friend in the box office took Miss Hepburn’s check and kept it for herself, replacing the cost of the ticket with cash. And when Miss Hepburn came backstage, I could hardly look at her for fear of being intrusive, but helped her find Tammy’s dressing room. She would have been 78 at that point, with a firm step before her health started to deteriorate. I can’t say I actually really met her, but I was in the same room and thrilled to be in her presence, as was everyone else in the cast and crew who were loitering around to see her. Plainly dressed, she was still as elegant as one could imagine.
From Donald Rettmann: The show I loved at The Kate was the concert by singer/songwriter Jimmy Webb. His performance of his song “MacArthur Park” was exquisite.
Retired Lt. John Kuzminski attended The Corvettes Doo Wop Revue show in February and mentioned the Kate fire truck that existed. As promised, he recently stopped in during the day to share photos of the Old Saybrook Fire Department 1959 ladder truck that Ms. Hepburn helped to purchase. Though she was too modest for public recognition, the truck bears a license plate that says “Kate”!
From Sue Ladd: I moved to Saybrook in 1981. I was fully aware that Katharine Hepburn lived here. I had heard many stories about residents running into her throughout the town. One day I was in Malloy’s getting some crafting material. As I went to the register to check out, I saw “Kate” come through the door with her driver. There was a short line ahead of me, which moved rapidly. I was overcome and turned to my idol, who was waiting patiently, and said “You can go ahead of me.” And she replied “No dear, you were here first”. I was so impressed. First that she actually talked to me, and secondly, that she was so considerate. Made moving to Saybrook worth it!
From Ellee Rose: Wonderful experience a few years ago at Chris Lemmon’s one man tour de force ‘Twist of Lemmon’. Firstly, staff was so warm and welcoming. And ‘house’ so lovely. I had never before attended a performance at The Kate. His show was one of the best I’ve seen in all of CT. Chris touched my heart on so many levels, it would be impossible to express my THRILL. Bittersweet brilliance. His father, Jack Lemmon was an actor I adored. I grew up on Jack’s films. Chris so uncannily spoke, gestured, chuckled and performed as his dad; he positively transported me. And what virtuosity Chris displayed. He captivated as he took us through his life as Jack’s son. After the show, he was kind enough to chat with me for a few minutes. I mentioned to him that decades ago, a friend of mine was a camera person on Good Morning America when Jack put in an appearance. I was doing a short regional run of ‘Promises, Promises’ [based on The Apartment] and his dad, Jack, was kind enough to write a short note to me as ‘Ms. Kubelik’. He signed it ‘love from Jack Lemmon [aka Chuck Baxter]’. I wish Chris the best of good health and hope to see him on stage again soon. And thank you KATE.
From Bill Schaller: For years we lived near Ms. Hepburn’s home in Manhattan’s Turtle Bay. There was a legendary neighborhood story about a day in the 70’s, when a dusting of snow had fallen and Kate was sweeping her stoop. A passing tourist wheeled around and said: “I know you….you’re…you’re Joan Crawford!” Reportedly, Ms. Hepburn arched her brow and said: “Not anymore.”
From Judy Samelson: When I first heard about the prospect of a Katharine Hepburn theatre in the place she loved, I attended an early fundraiser. At that event I was welcomed with open arms and warm hospitality, and it has been my great pleasure to come to know and befriend members of the original capital campaign and building committees—and to have been asked to serve as one of the original honorary board members as well as to write the Katharine Hepburn timeline for the capital campaign brochure, to contribute to and serve on The Kate’s museum committee and, early on, to write some short pieces for the blog.
Why did I want to become involved? Well, to quote Rodgers and Hart: if they asked me I could write a book.
So since you’ve asked for a Kate story, here goes: My life-long love affair with Katharine Hepburn began when I was 13 years old, sitting in a theatre for the initial release of a movie called Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. Up till then I had no idea who she was. I thought I was going to see the latest Sidney Poitier movie. But when I left the theatre, all I could think was: WHO is that woman? From the second she burst through the door of the Drayton’s well-appointed San Francisco home, I was blinded by the power of her star wattage. Whatever she was selling, I was buying. The following year my cousin took me to see The Lion in Winter for my 14th birthday. That sealed the deal.
Fade In. I am now 23 years old and well on my way to amassing a large collection of Hepburn movie and stage memorabilia — and have managed to see all of her movies. Kids weaned on DVDs and Youtube will find it hard to believe that in the late sixties and seventies you couldn’t just press a button or click on a link. You had to search for screenings in revival houses and museums. Fortunately for this Kate fan, New York had plenty of those. And then there was her stage work. I was not quite old enough to have seen her ventures into Shakespeare at Stratford, but I did see her in Coco, A Matter of Gravity and West Side Waltz.
But I digress. At 23, I had a friend who was traveling with the company of A Matter of Gravity as it toured the country after its Broadway run. I wrote a short note to Miss H and sent it to my friend, who said she’d show her the letter, which reached her when the company got to Dallas. I’d seen the play quite a few times on Broadway, the letter said, and I had tickets to see a matinee and evening performance when it returned back east to Baltimore. Could I come backstage to meet her? To this day I’m not sure where I got the nerve to ask, but I did. And not long after, to my great surprise and delight, I received a typed reply: Fine. Come Back. And then: PS After the evening performance.
And I did. Between the matinee and evening performance, I had dinner with my friend and Corrine Bishop, who was Miss H’s dresser. Corrine gave me the key to her hotel room so I wouldn’t have to walk the streets before the evening show. After the curtain calls, I was escorted onstage to the backstage area and asked to cue up behind a small group of people who had obviously been granted an audience as well. As I stood at the back of the line, I nervously twisted a copy of her note inviting me back until it was practically an unrecognizable bit of pulp. Nervous? Why? Because as I stood in line, the distinctive voice of this woman I’d idolized since I was a kid could be clearly heard right around the corner. One by one, couple by couple, the people in front of me were taken around the to meet her and chat for a moment or two. But as I reached the front of the line with no one left behind me – still nervously twisting that note – I noticed that more and more people had left the backstage area, and it became clear to me that I could well be forgotten and the woman would leave before I had a chance to meet her. At just the moment when my heart sank, I peaked around the corner and what I saw at the end of the hall was Katharine Hepburn standing in front of her open dressing room door — where she’d been greeting people — bag over her shoulder ready to leave. But directly behind her was Corrine Bishop, who when she saw me motioned for me to come ahead, and I said a little silent prayer of thanks when she did.
At dinner Corrine had given me a few pointers about what to do when the moment came: Make sure you say your name when you first meet her because she likes to know to whom she’s speaking. But before I had the chance to speak, I was being introduced to Miss H by her dresser (!) telling her that I’d received her note inviting me back!
We shook hands and with the last vestiges of the note still nervously twisting between my fingers, I started to say, “Miss Hepburn, I was so surprised to have received your kind invitation to come back and meet you.” But all I got out was “Miss Hepburn, I was so surprised…” when she laughed and chimed in, “at my good manners?” Well, that broke the ice. A little.
We talked a bit about the play, which she liked a great deal, as opposed to what she called the “twaddle” in other popular plays of the moment. (This was the first time I’d ever heard the word “twaddle.” It’s a good word.) I asked her if her ankle was feeling better. She’d injured it — this was not the injury she suffered in that frightening accident on the causeway in the early eighties, but another ankle injury. She’d sprained it or something and for a while played in a wheelchair. And then she liked the character in the wheelchair so much that she continued performing in it as a prop on the tour. She pooh-pooed the injury and said she was fine and allowed me to walk with her and Corrine to her waiting car.
Forty-two years later I can’t say that I recall everything else that was said at that meeting. What has stayed with me all these years later was how kind and generous she was after a two-performance day to stand and chit-chat with a nervous kid. But mostly what is deeply burned in my memory is not only how she sounded but the vision of her, as I walked down that hall to meet her. She wore brown slacks, a black turtleneck and that brown Burberry coat lining, hair haphazardly pinned up, reddish with wisps of gray. And the startling bluest of blue eyes. Stunning at 70.
In the 52 years that have passed since I first watched Christina Drayton burst through that door, I have read and tried to learn as much as I could about Katharine Hepburn. First, about her unequaled acting career: from Little Women to Alice Adams to The Philadelphia Story to Summertime to Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Her intelligence, striking beauty, wit and touching ability to tap into vulnerabilities that lay just beneath the surface of a character’s raging self-confidence makes her endlessly fascinating to watch.
Then by years of collecting her artwork and most revealing of all, letters written by her and by others about her. My admiration grew exponentially when I was fortunate enough to meet and talk to people who knew her. With each conversation, they made her live and confirmed what I’d somehow, instinctively known at 13.
I was thrilled to have been asked to contribute to Rebel Chic, the 2012 book about her professional and personal sense of style. In my Introduction I quoted her friend and Lion in Winter co-star Peter O’Toole: “Yes, the glorious Kate. She’s one of the great jewels of the United States. When your country, which is a young country, does define itself completely—and it will in time—you’ll honor people like Kate. That’s the American spirit.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I’ve visited her wonderful theatre in the heart of Old Saybrook many times, with its friendly atmosphere, great sight lines, terrific sound system and performers. Like her namesake, may she go on and on…Happy Birthday to The Kate.
From an anonymous friend: We enjoy visiting during the summer and fall, as part of our New England vacations. We have been to concerts, a play, the wonderful small museum section about Katharine Hepburn and her career, and the annual arts and crafts fair on the adjacent lawn. We have also read the book about Katharine Hepburn by the long-time Connecticut Emmy-nominated news anchor, Ann Nyberg.
From Toni Giarnese: I attended a keenly affecting performance at the Kate some time ago.
Picture it: Final curtain. The audience, sated and unmoving, sits as if willing the spell to remain unbroken for a just a while longer. Silence fills the space, then thunderous applause. It’s the premiere of Wild Black Yonder written by Lary Bloom.
One upon another lifetime, I took a class with Lary Bloom and learned a few things. He’s a gifted writer/ teacher/editor with a variety of books and magazines on his résumé. What isn’t listed there is his keen wit and sharp eye. And his extraordinary humanity.
Lary has every right to be annoyed with the ink slingers in his memoir classes. But he is ebulliently charming and encouraging, gives the honest feedback and astute suggestions that writers crave. Mostly, though, he’s a sagacious storyteller.
My experience at the Kate is unforgettable. I’m in a front row seat, immersed in a true war story. It’s about the “black hole of Vietnam”, he’ll tell you, and a woman’s memories of her young husband declared missing decades ago, memories that prevent her from fully committing to another man.
Inside this knockout theater, a love story emerges from Lary’s heart and soul. It made me weep.
An entire theater.
Reduced to stillness.
From Lisa Judge: Seeing some of my favorite artists come to the Kate has been amazing! I go to other small venues and I love that the Kate gives a more stripped down show, without all the crazy light shows, fog machines and overly loud music. And when the artists decide to go off mic and play with the acoustics of the room is always a special experience.
From Suzanne C. Branciforte: I spent my summers in Old Saybrook as a child growing up as my grandparents had a home in Cornfield Point. As my Father and I were in the local Hardware store Miss Hepburn had entered and I really was breathless. I had often road around the golf course I would admire the rustic home she had. My dad had also met her while he worked for the Piersons florest company in Cromwell, CT as Miss Hepburn was a good friend of the Piersons as she often visited and walked through the green houses with the roses. I have never written anyone but I did write her a little note and she did respond to it. Thank you for your lovely letter. Katharine Hepburn. She was part of our community and a very powerful force in the movie industry. A very strong woman who would not let the boys club run her career or keep her options down. I frequent her Cultural Arts Center often for the greatest shows and watch some of the artist using her grand piano and are just tickled as one artist put it to be playing on that piano. I hope the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center continues for years to come as it is a wonderful part of the community. Thank you.
From Katharine Nelson: I was named after my mother, Kathryne, but my first name has the same spelling as Katharine Hepburn. I always need to spell it for people, since there are so many different spellings, and Katharine is not a usual one. One day I asked my mom why she spelled my name differently from hers. Her reply was that Katharine Hepburn was her favorite actress. I heard the same story one day while I was checking out at a store. Upon giving the spelling of my first name to the cashier, she mentioned that her name was spelled the same way. I told her my story of Katharine Hepburn being my mom’s favorite actress. She told me that same story about why her mom chose that spelling for her!
From Kate Hoffman: I was in New York and it was close to Kate’s birthday, I went by her turtle bay home and left flowers at her door. A few weeks later I received a lovely note from her thanking me for “the nice surprise”. I have the note framed on one of my book shelves!
From Thomas Roche: Met the love of my life at C.T.A. concert, at the Kate, on Saturday April 28 2018.
From Jonathan Schneider: I have been to the first music show at the Kate with Pure Prairie League and perhaps 40 shows since. But my lifetime memory is playing to a sold out audience with my Running On Empty Band on June 2 2018. Thanks to Brett and the Kate staff.
From an anonymous friend: Back in the 70’s my friend and I spent time on the Old Saybrook causeway fishing for Snapper Bluefish. Ms. Hepburn used to visit the fishermen and stoop to ask about the lures we were using. She was one of the nicest people you would want to meet, no false air of self, just another Old Saybrook resident out and about talking to folks on the causeway.
From James Iovieno: Enjoying songwriter Jimmy Webb (for the second time at the Kate) as he performed with Ashley Campbell, and my friend Robin and I had the pleasure to be seated with her mother Kim Woolen Campbell.
From Pat Scully: Many years ago, I took my Massachusetts mother to a show at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester. When we exited the building following the show, a car was blocking our egress. Sitting in the car was a chagrined Katharine Hepburn, who apologized profusely, and offered immediately to have the car moved. We explained, however, that we were in no hurry, and chatted with Ms. Hepburn while waiting a brief while for the car’s driver. My mother, a huge fan of the gracious actress, was thrilled with the encounter and often recounted the story to her friends and relatives. If the truth be known, I too, was enchanted with our encounter with the delightful, congenial Katharine Hepburn.
From Dick McManus: I went to see the Smithereens about two years ago and they were good as usual. About 70% through the set the bass player (The Thriller) had problems with his bass. It was not the amp and he fiddled with everything he could and determined that it was the bass. He made a plea to the audience, “is there a bass player in the audience?” but more importantly if there was, did he or she have gear near The Kate. Well , most guitarist have many more guitars than they can play so the fact he did not have a spare bass was very surprising. One of my friends with me is a bass player and did not have his bass in the car that evening which is not the norm. We all got a good laugh out of this and the Smithereens limped to the end of the night minus Bass Player. To this day many of us that witnessed this still chuckle about this musical malfunction.
From Marcia Tracy: It all started before The Kate even ever opened for me…I think maybe even before Chuck was hired. I created the social media-Facebook, followed later by a twitter as “fan pages”…as simply that..fan. page. Ann Nyberg came across the fan page, I added her as an admin to the page, and she alerted the webmaster to add it to the main page of the site…without telling me. Imagine my surprise when I went to the main site for The Kate, and noticed a link to Facebook…I expected it to go to the Causes page that had been set up to raise funds…nope…my page. I was shocked and excited to be trusted with the task.
After awhile, Ann and I began discussing a little “expansion” to other social media…aka adding a twitter account…which I solicited handle name ideas from my friends, eventually deciding on my friend Beth’s idea, @CometotheKate. (Random fact: It came up in my timeline on facebook that it’s been 9 years exactly as of March 15th that we created the twitter account).
Fast forward a bit, to the second Gala in the summer of 2010…What a fun night. I remember getting there a bit early, earlier than I had even planned. The main doors were locked, so I just hung around to watch people set things up on the green, figuring either Chuck or the box office manager at the time or SOMEONE would come across me eventually. After about twenty minutes or so, the box office manager walks by…and was totally obvious I was right there. A few others walk by…again…nothing. Finally, Chuck walks by and sees me there….but was surprised to see me (I had emailed earlier in the week and mentioned I was coming, and had called to no avail…). I was brought to the box office and told to hang out until he found something to busy me with. That’s when the woman who had set up the catering for the performers arrived…and Chuck stuck me with her. It worked out well, though-she and I got along wonderfully and the jokes were flying most of the night between us and her assistant.
A few other little antidotes from that night- -There was a skunk that ran under one of the pillars between the two performances…as the second audience was coming towards the main doors…. (you don’t want to know how fast the ushers moved once we saw it!)…and making a police officer check it out. -One of the dresses was being auctioned off that evening…and the ushers all thought it was one Ann was wearing that night, so we kept trying to find her in the crowd (It wasn’t her dress, if I recall correctly) -The ushers noticing that the caterer (not the woman I was working with) was napping in her car, which was running…and talking the police into checking in on that as well.
Fast forward to that fall…I’m back at school, and chatting with my advisor about a senior capstone project. I open my mouth with how I was running the social media for The Kate…and the idea of interning with Chuck came about….I approached him with the idea, and he was in full support of having an official intern for a couple of weeks. Fast forward to my winter break (January 2011)…I intern with Chuck, doing a bit of everything. My favorite though was towards the end of my internship with him, when I stage managed Joan Shepard’s one-woman show, “Confessions of Old Lady #2”. Another moment from my internship that stands out was attending a board meeting…where we were discussing marketing and social media (coincidental, perhaps, planned? maybe)
From George J. Vezina:
The first time I saw her.
I had only recently moved to the Old Saybrook area when I saw that one of my favorite performers, Chris Smither was playing at THE KATE. So I bought two tickets. As it turned out, my date had to cancel. So I went alone.
THE KATE sent me a coupon for a local restaurant, The Red Hen. Being new to the area, I decided to try the place out before the show.
I found a parking spot that was NOT on the main street and stepped in to the bar area of the restaurant. The place was empty except for a waitress and the amiable bartender, whose name turned out to be Mary. She asked if I was going to the show. “Yes, I replied. I also happen to have an extra ticket. Know anybody who wants to go?” She jokingly asked the waitress who was obviously working and said no.
I settled in at the end of the bar next to a little sign that read “RESERVED” and ordered a drink and dinner, which was delicious. The door was just to my right so it was no effort to glance over and see whenever someone came in.
A couple stepped into the bar and sat down the other end. They traded pleasantries with Mary then engaged in their own conversation.
Not long after, she walked in.
Not an actual phosphorescent kind of glow or anything creepy like that, no. But just a pleasant, warm kind of radiance. An aura, if you will, that surrounded her. It didn’t hurt that her face was surrounded by a mane of curly blonde hair which captured the light in the room.
She sat next to me. Right in front of the “RESERVED” sign and as soon as she sat, she was presented with a wineglass filed with what looked to be ice water with a twist of lemon. Pushing down the fear and summoning up all of my non-existent confidence, I turned and asked her: “Is that a good thing or a bad thing that the bartender knows your order as soon as you arrive?”
She smiled demurely (which only increased the glow) and said “No, I come here often. I live near here.”
Nothing more was said and eventually she rose and walked over to the couple down the bar and engaged them in conversation. Apparently, everybody in this place knew each other.
Except for me.
The time came to pay the bill because the show was starting soon. I reached for my wallet and felt nothing. No wallet where it usually was. I knew it was never in any other pocket but I still did that full-body pat down thing, slapping my hands against every pocket as if that would somehow magically make my wallet appear.
I checked my shirt pocket and found some cash. But it wasn’t even enough to pay the bill, let alone tip the bartender.
Panic began to settle in. I DID NOT want to have to utter the words “I left it in my other pants.” How stupid. A quick vision of me, in the kitchen, sleeves rolled up, washing dishes as the busboy heaps another pile in front of me, flashed through me head.
This was NOT going to happen!
I quickly grabbed my phone and called my bank, theorizing that if they could give me my ATM card number, I could relay it to the bartender and the problem would be solved before it became one. Ten long painful minutes on hold later and Mary was looking at her watch and me. She knew that the show was about to start and I hadn’t paid my bill yet. She came over and I very sheepishly tried to explain my situation with some measure of dignity and copious amounts of apologies while the couple down the bar. and the blond woman. watched it all unfold.
“Don’t worry about it.” Mary said. “Go to the show.”
Thanking her for the fiftieth time, I humbly exited with my tail between my legs. Ugh I got to the show and sat next to the empty seat that I had also paid for. But I couldn’t let it go. As Chris Smither began to play, I went to my bank’s website as discretely as possible and discovered that I could program my phone to act as an ATM card. Just wave it at a machine in a local branch and viola! Cash in hand. There was a branch just four blocks away. If I could quickly duck out, run to the bank, get the cash, and return to the restaurant, then I could settle my bill AND very gratefully tip Mary. Mary the wonderful. It only took me about five minutes to accomplish the cash retrieval. As I stepped into the bar area, I saw Mary, the blonde woman and the couple engaged in conversation. I triumphantly laid a twenty on the bar, said “thank you very much and keep the change.” But as I turned to exit once again, I hesitated, holding up a finger and titling it ever so slightly towards the blonde woman. Whether she did or not, Mary seemed to divine my intent and acknowledge with a knowing nod that it may not be a bad idea. I stepped up to her, gently touched a finger upon her shoulder and as she turned to look at me I said “Excuse me, would you like to go see a show?” After a minute or so of explaining what an accomplished musician she would be seeing and trying to assure her that I was, in fact, not a serial killer, she politely turned me down. I honestly hadn’t expected her to say yes. but I figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I went to the show, alone, and it was another good one. As the final song was playing, I glanced at my watch and saw that it was fifteen minutes past closing time for the restaurant. Rats, if there even WERE a second chance, it was gone. I walked back to my car, passing the Red Hen and somewhat hopefully, looked in the window. Mary was still there. It’s worth asking I thought. So I stepped up and opened the door. “We’re closed.” Mary said immediately. Crest fallen I began to turn then heard: “But c’mon in.” Never taking my gaze off of Mary I stepped in, and there she was. Still glowing. After some minutes of clumsy conversation on my part, I expressed my intent to go and Mary told me to leave my phone number so she could put me on the list for events happening at the restaurant. I got into my car and headed home, feeling lighter than I had in months. I didn’t get her phone number or know a lot more about her but least I had a name. Leslee. As I drove down the road, I suddenly realized, I hadn’t given her MY number! What an idiot. Pulling over I quickly texted the number I now had for Mary and typed “Could you please give my number to Leslee?” The message came back very quickly… “I already did.”
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