For the past three years, The Duchess and I have been subscribers to The Durham Performing Arts Center. Now, regional lust for season tickets to DPAC is rivaled only by the rabid competition for good seats at Duke (and, inexplicably, UNC) basketball games so, until a ticket holder in a more desirable location dies or moves away, one is anchored to one’s seating assignment. Consequently, on six to eight nights a year we have been positioned adjacent to the same folks for two or three hours.
And, for someone like me, an admitted misanthrope with aspirations to someday become a curmudgeon, we won the lottery for good DPAC neighbors. This couple, whose names we don’t know, are invariably friendly, lively, good-natured, and polite. Over time, a social algorithm has evolved: If Penny and I arrive first, I say something on the lines of “Where have you been? We’ve been holding the curtain waiting for you. and the riffraff are getting restless.” If, as is more often the case, they are seated before us, I apologize profusely, typically blaming our tardiness on my wife with exaggerated exasperation (think 1960s sitcom marital stereotype). In either case, everyone plays along with appreciative chortles. A brief discussion of the event we’re seeing that night, recent vacations, other people we know in the audience, etc. ensues. After five to ten minutes of this, we settle into a comfortable silence, watch the musical or whatever, and part company until the next show. All in all, it’s a lovely arrangement. No arguments, no oneupmanship, no Facebook friending, no further obligations …
This weekend, as we were preparing to hit the road for DPAC’s production of School Of Rock, I realized we have spent more time with our DPAC neighbors than with many of our real estate neighbors. So, it seemed a good idea to give them a Christmas card, especially considering there are individuals on our Christmas card list that we haven’t seen in years. Because of our planned Maui Christmas trip, we are currently heavy into island-themed cards. Penny then prepared and passed along the card atop this post to our buddies – and, like the sweethearts they are – they enthusiastically professed to love it. Next, as per protocol, we talked about their and our trips to the islands for five to ten minutes and afterward happily lapsed into spectator mode.
The photo of DPAC is by Alexisrael – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Commons