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13 April 2002

Last night, I was reviewing the world premiere of a play called Almost Grown Up, written (and performed) by Aviva Jane Carlin, whose previous work includes the controversial Jodie's Body.

Almost Grown Up is another monologue, this one revealing, as the hour and fifteen minutes progressed, the strained relationship between "Lizzie" and her mother, who "appears" only as Lizzie talks with her on the telephone.

At the end of the phone call, Lizzie begins talking to the audience about her mother, her childhood, the brother who died before she was born, etc., etc. It's funny, it's poignant, it's dramatic.

It was reminiscent of Paul's monologue shows, only this monologue had a set and a "character" rather than Aviva playing herself. But a lot of the themes were the same, especially when she talked about the brother who died before she was born, and the effect that young child's death had on her mother's relationship with Lizzie and her sister throughout their childhood.

It was about 3/4 of the way into the play before I completely disgraced myself.

Lizzie had gotten into the story of her brother. She was sitting on the couch, tears in her eyes, and she reflected on what must have been her mother's pain at the loss of the child.

That's when I did it.

zebra.jpg (13213 bytes)Somehow I managed to kick my purse, my foot coming in contact with the zebra keychain which hangs on the zipper pull. Peggy bought that zebra when she was here, but decided that she didn't really want it, so she gave it to me when she left.

Having nothing better to do with a zebra keychain, I stuck it on my purse, where it has hung for a year and a half now.

The purse and the zebra have been to many theatrical events in that time, probably none quite as intimate or as powerful as Almost Grown Up. This particular theatre seats maybe 75 people and there are only three rows of seats, so you are practically in Aviva's lap as she performs.

And I kicked the zebra.

The zebra who makes a whinnying sound when squeezed.

A whinnying sound that you can't stop.

It whinnies three times.

So in the middle of this emotional monologue, the damn zebra starts whinnying under my feet. Not once. Not twice, but THREE times. Aviva lost her concentration momentarily. People in the audience turned around to look in the direction of the sound.

I acted the way you do when you suddenly fart in a crowded room, and you pretend that it must have been someone else, as you casually walk through the offending cloud and move to a different location.

But it was difficult to be nonchalant when the damn whinny was coming from under my feet.

There was about 15 minutes more of the show to go, and I sat rigid, not moving my feet at all, for fear I'd kick the damn zebra again.

I don't know whether the actress came out to greet her audience after the show or not. I beat a hasty retreat and hoped nobody would figure out that it was me who had caused the sound to be made.

Before the show started, someone on the theatre staff had come out to remind people to turn off all pagers, cell phones, and alarm watches.

He never  mentioned anything about whinnying zebras.

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1.  What's your favorite restaurant and why?

Greens, a vegetarian restaurant in SF which is run by the San Francisco Zen Center.  While I am neither a vegetarian nor a Zen Buddhist, this place has the most beautiful view in SF (check the web site) and a fantastic menu.  It's my favorite place to take visitors to San Francisco.

2.  What fast food restaurant are you partial to?

I guess I'll have to go with McDonald's.  It used to be Taco Bell, but they've changed somehow and things just don't taste as good as they used to.    (Besides, I found out that taco salad is the highest caloric thing on the menu!)

3.  What are your standards and rules for tipping?

Since Tom used to be a waiter, I'm conscientious about tipping, either 15-20% depending on how much service was given.  It has to be pretty rotten service for me to leave no tip at all. 

4.  Do you usually order an appetizer or dessert?

Occasionally, though rarely, an appetizer (and that usually in a Chinese restaurant)+.  Almost never dessert--especially now that I'm trying to eat more sensibly.  I have been known to have a tira misu or cheesecake, but 99% of the time, I pass  on dessert (it usually looks better than it tastes anyway)

5.  What do you usually order to drink in a restaurant?

Iced tea or water.  I used to have wine with dinner, but I decided those were calories I didn't really need, so I haven't had anything alcoholic to drink in a long time.


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