I’d heard a nearby theatre was putting on The Rocky Horror Picture Show and I couldn’t resist. I love musicals but have surprisingly never seen this one. Brief clips, yes (Tim Curry’s mouth is captivating) but I’d never seen it in its entirety. Now I had the opportunity to catch a live rendition. Sold! I called and reserved a last-minute ticket and began preparing for my seventh date by myself.
I’m no amateur. I’ve been around a while, seen and done some things. I’d certainly heard about Rocky Horror. People come from all around, dressed in elaborate costumes consisting of risqué negligée, prepared to get rowdy, yelling and throwing things at the performers. It sounded hysterical; I was excited and terrified.
I did a bit of quick character research (Google) then made the obvious choice to dress in a white bra and slip à la Janet. It seemed the easiest and safest costume for a first-timer. Then I took several deep breaths before walking out of my house to my car, avoiding eye contact with my neighbours (who all seemed to be outside at just the right time).
The drive was uneventful and singing along to the radio helped to calm my nerves. I was feeling pretty good. That is, of course, until I turned onto the main street of the theatre and saw that nobody else had dressed for the show. Jesus fuck! I shrank in my car and sped around the corner, mortified.
Even after I put on the emergency pink dress and white sweater I brought (in case I chickened out) it still took a few minutes to convince myself to get out of the car and go inside. But I did. I still kind of can’t believe I did. I am seriously bad-ass. Once inside I relaxed a bit, smiled and pretended nothing weird or embarrassing had just happened.
I took my seat, looked through the playbook and the “participation bag” of things we were permitted to throw, and interacted with some strategically scattered costumed extras. Finally the show began.
I’m not going to give any specifics about the theatre or anybody involved because, quite frankly, it was terrible. I don’t know if they were having an off day – they were using most of their understudies for this performance – or if it is always the worst thing ever. Or (most likely) whether it was a great show and I was simply unable to appreciate any of it because I was wearing a fucking emergency dress. All I know is that about 20 minutes in my face hurt from trying very hard to smile and enjoy myself. By minute 25, I gave up and opted to let my face rest in its neutral bitch position.
When Betty, the peppy little extra in the leather getup, appeared by my side at intermission to ask me if I like dancing as much as she likes dancing (because she really likes dancing) I gave her the most patient please go away smile I could muster. She obliged.
Two more acts later, I was full-on scowling. When the show was (finally!) finished, everybody stood up to do the time warp. I took this opportunity to bolt; I’d had enough. In an attempt to rescue the evening, I got myself a gyro and parked somewhere quiet. But I just ended up falling asleep in the car and then waking up sore, so I declared date number seven a complete failure and went home.
All of this happened on Friday, September 18. I am only writing about it now because I needed to sit on it for a while – the doubt and embarrassment. I needed to marinate in my shitty date before deciding that, yes, it is worth the risk of humiliation to get to know myself. I am worth the time and effort even when it is awful.
When I told this story to my therapist, he laughed his ass off. “Some dates are just bad. I guess being by yourself is no exception.”
Indeed, some dates are just doomed whether you experience bad food or rude service at a restaurant, whether a bird shits on your romantic stroll, whether you run into an ex and things get awkward, or, in my case, whether you show up in your fucking underwear. Next!