Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I've joined in the wonderful and creative writing exercise presented by San Diego Momma -.PROMPTuesday These have spurred my creativity, and have been a lot of fun at the same time.

Each Tuesday, she posts a writing prompt. Participants play by the following rules:
  • You must write your entry in 10 minutes. This encourages top-of-mind, primal thinking before the ego and judgmental brain kicks in. Just set a timer, make your kid count to 600 slowly, whatever. It’s an honor system. And I trust you.
  • Keep to 150 words or less (I always run over a bit!)  
  • Post on your blog or in her comments so everyone can read it.  
  • Have fun!
This week, Deb didn't get her PROMPT up till Wednesday. Today’s PROMPT is:
Write about a reunion.

From L to R - Me, Karen and our friend Nan
 This one is easy, since I just had a reunion, of sorts.

I got an email from a friend of mine. Her husband was on an extended business trip in town and she was coming to spend a few days with him - coinciding with his birthday. Other than the birthday, he'd be working and she had some time to explore. Could we hang out?

I wrote last Tuesday about my First Call as a stagehand for Local #15. What I didn't mention was that during that Opera call - which lasted maybe a week, I immediately fell into the custom of going to Dez's Tavern for a beer after work. This was partly because I carpooled with a guy who went to Dez's, but also because I would have done so anyway.

Dez's was a low, cinderblock building on the corner of Mercer and Second, right across from the Opera House and Seattle Center Arena. I've written before about the unique institution that a Seattle tavern is - sells only beer and wine, doesn't sell food, no one under 21 allowed to be present. Dez's sold Rainer on tap, Heidelberg in bottles, and had a couple of computer games like Centipede on the floor. 

One Monday night I went to Dez's with the Opera crew when we got off at eleven o'clock. The bar was full. Some of the guys were the Seattle Repertory Theatre crew, but a lot of people were there because they'd come from the union meeting, which took place the first Monday of each month. This Monday, like most, two new members had been sworn in - Local #15 always swore in members in pairs.

This month's new members were my friend Karen and another stagehand I'll call ETA. Karen was the very first female member of Local #15, and that night marked her swearing in. She and ETA bought beers all around. 

Having moved to Seattle from New York, where I'd been told that no woman ever would become a member of Local One - this was an amazing milestone for me to witness. Though I was a newcomer, and could not see into my future 18 years membership, it gave me something to strive for, something to hope for, and someone to serve as a role model.

And Karen was quite a role model. In addition to being really good at her job, she was fearless, both physically and personally. She was not afraid to challenge people if she thought they weren't doing things right. She did not fear calling out assholery. She played with the Big Boys, and usually won.

She also supported others. When I started working, aside from Karen there were four other women in the union. We were all from different backgrounds, and we didn't necessarily hang out together, but we bonded. One woman was married to another stagehand. Another had ambitions to be an actress though she was still a good stagehand. A fourth one no one knew before she got hired by the City, And I was number five. I think, diverse as we were, Karen was the glue that brought us women together to support one another. She made me feel I could succeed as a Local #15 stagehand.

As the years went on, and the number of women members and dispatch workers increased, our little sisterhood became more diffuse. We all followed our career dreams - Karen became a Sound Technician and went out on the road. I did too, although my tours were considerably more low-rent than hers. Karen moved to New York, became a member of Local One - proving the old claim wrong - and started working on Broadway.

I stayed in touch with Karen, and when my son went to college in New York, we met up. With her connections, she could always get us backstage for a tour, even at a theatre she wasn't working at. One memorable evening, we saw Patti Lupone in "Sweeney Todd" and after the show Karen grabbed us and walked us past the doorman to tour backstage. Our son met the bass player, and talked about music. It was an amazing experience for him.

This fall, since she was in town, we got together for dinner and  Halloween tour of Los Angeles. Our husbands joined us. A good friend of theirs joined us - and a new friendship sprang into being for me.

Later that week, we met at the Getty Museum. We enjoyed the exhibitions, but after we got burnt out by art, we bought a bottle of wine at the cafe and sat in the sunny courtyard and talked. There were a lot of things to reminisce about.

Most of all , it was funny. We remembered outrageous things that happened back in those days. We laughed about tales of drunken escapades, daring scams, and legendary deeds. We talked about old boyfriends - some shared - and we revealed secrets once suspected, now confirmed. We reminisced about a previous reunion - a dissipated evening in Atlanta, Georgia in 1982, where the tour she was on and the tour I was on were playing the same city. We remembered guys we knew who have passed on from this world.  

It was a grand reunion. And it was good for me - it made me turn my mind back to the past, and realize what rich experiences I've enjoyed, and what wonderful and inspiring people I have been privileged to know.


Janet said...

It's always been enjoyable for me to rekindle new relationships...and altho I stay in touch by phone or text or email with my friends, many of them live out of state and so we generally have two reunions a year, one in summer, one New Year's Eve. That one's dicey, tho, dependent on weather since we travel to Jamestown NY!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

That's pretty fine writing, especially with a time constraint! I was never very good at that.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! And I say that before the previous poster reminded me this was a timed piece.
It would take me a whole lot longer than 10 minutes to write anything this good!

Aunt Snow said...

Please note that (I confessed it before, but I should make sure I do each time) I cheat with the time restraint. Not by much - I take about a half hour - but it's not ten minutes.

Ilyanna said...

Lovely. Thank you. (Also, your PROMPTuesday spurred me to finally write a post that's been bugging me since July. Thanks for the nudge).

Mrs. Kuhtz said...

Omgosh this sounds like the most awesome'est of reunions!!!