I Missed the Photo Show

One of my favorite old movies is Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It was shot in Australia and starred two of my favorite actors, Hugo Weaving and Terrence Stamp (who, by the way, I spied in our own Ojai Community Hospital about a year ago…how thrilling can that be…huh, huh.)

So you can imagine my excitement about six months ago when our daughter bought us tickets to the musical of the same name. Damn, by-golly and doody-face, our tickets turned out to be on the same day as Ojai’s most anticipated, star-spangled event of the year, the Art Center Photo Branch show. But we couldn’t disappoint our only daughter who, in her genetically supercharged anal persona, had asked us twice before purchasing the stratospherically expensive tickets, Dad, are you sure you have nothing else to do that day? So Sweetie and I went to Priscilla with Nancy and missed, some would say, the greatest show in Ojai.

We drove to the Pantages, installed the car in a twenty-dollar, paint blistering, door denting parking lot, and strolled over the names of long-forgotten movie stars embedded in the Hollywood Boulevard sidewalk. We had our purses searched by Pantages ushers for contraband as lethal as an eight ounce water bottle, then reluctantly purchased two four-dollar water bottles, found our seats and huddled together for warmth as the air conditioning was arcticly adjusted to suit the lithe, sweaty bodies of young chorus line dancers performing at the speed of light. We nervously shifted in our seats and held our breath as we awaited the arrival of what was sure to be the two tallest persons within a twenty-mile radius who would likely occupy the presently vacant seats in front of us. That’s show biz.

The first act was filled with ear-shattering disco music that my faux son-in-law insisted was offered up solely in an attempt to enrage his rock and roll deprived musical senses. But then, unless Kevin is in front of his 42″ computer monitor playing gory war games against other maniacs on a magnum opus, water-cooled PC, he’s at best a reluctant participant in the fine arts.

Intermission time and, owing to what I insist was the fault of the icy conditions in the theater, I got in line with three hundred and fifty, shuffling, mostly aging men in the hopes that I might empty my throbbing bladder in one of the six available urinals before the eighteen minute intermission ended, as had been announced by two young female ushers who appeared to have never even heard of a bladder and who undoubtedly rejoiced in watching deteriorating old letches get their just desserts.

Given the estimated time it takes to empty the bladder of one old prostate challenged senior, I felt I could afford to day-dream about the Art Center Photo show. Even with my eyes closed, I simply would be pushed along in the Bataan Death March line, held erect by those octogenarians who surrounded me, until I would awake to the dulcet sounds of flushing. And so I day-dreamed.

I found a Montgomery Street parking space with my name painted on it directly in front of the Art Center, then floated through the pearly gated front door and held my breath as I anticipated the picture perfect awards that would surely be heaped upon me while I was being regaled with plaudits normally reserved for the likes of Ansel Adams, Alfred Eisenstaedt or Annie Liebovitz.

All eyes turned in my direction, the crowd hushed, parted like the Red Sea, and in a rising crescendo, broke into thunderous applause. Our master of ceremonies, Roger, asked for silence, reviewed my glorious fifteen minute biography and handed me the winner’s check. I immediately endorsed it and gifted it to the Art Center so that they could retire the mortgage, refinish the doors, get the cobwebs off the ceiling and install much-needed, blazingly lit, neon sign directions to the rest rooms.

I nodded my head in acknowledgement of everyone’s gratitude, waved my hand to the assembled, and floated slowly over to the fabulous, mouth-watering repast laid on a table covered with the nectar of the gods. There to greet me was Myrna. She had outdone herself by assembling all of my favorite dishes including chitlins con carne with bone marrow dressing, displayed magnificently as only Myrna can do. I ate my fill, sat on the plush cushions of the somehow magically re-upholstered couch, digested my food and…

I woke up at the seventeen minute mark, unceremoniously nudged into semi-consciousness by the old guy behind me. Are you gonna pee or what? he said with more than a touch of annoyance. So I did. And I found my way back, not to the Art Center but to the second act of Priscilla. It was good, but maybe not as good as winning an award at the photo show. Certainly not as good as sharing years of good times with wonderful people like Roger, Myrna and the rest of those dedicated folks who made the show work.

Oh, and I didn’t win a photo prize at the show. But I will donate some money to the Art Center so folks like me can find the rest rooms without a roadmap.


5 Responses to “I Missed the Photo Show”

  1. 1 Mo June 3, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Loved reading this – I too loved the film but wasn’t willing to risk to show- I like the fact that the Pantages seems to provide equal opportunity to both sexes for lines for the loo!


  2. 2 Roger Conrad June 3, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    You and Ila were missed at the final the Ojai Art Center Photo Branch Show reception. You were acknowledged for keeping our spirits high with wine, your many physical contributions toward making the show a success and your outstanding photographic talents. Unfortunately you did not win a prize that evening, but you are always a winner anyway. If you had come you would not have had to wait in line for our urinal.

    Thank you for all you do for the community and entertaining us with your blog.



  3. 3 Bobbie Boschan June 4, 2013 at 4:08 am

    Loved this one, Fred…
    Thanks for all that you do!


  4. 4 Grandpa June 4, 2013 at 5:04 am

    HI FRED, WE ARE 32,000, FEET over Greenland, on our way back from London. While you were at the Theatre, we were watching JERSEY Boys.
    In London. Last Night we went to Phantom of Opera.Give wife, our love.


  5. 5 Myrna Cambianica June 4, 2013 at 5:06 am

    too hilarious as usual … i had to make a run for the loo in mid read … we missed both of you at the reception … i dunno, considering the attendance, you might have had to wait in line at the art center powder room too


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