We arrive in different cars and at different times--all of us, exhausted. The restaurant is almost empty, a few unfortunate souls who happened to have stopped at this particular Chili's establishment to get a bit to eat or to watch a game on a better TV than the one they have at home. The cool kids rush to the corner booth. Us older (and slower...) ones find a chair and sit down at the next table. The show's over; it's time to relax.
"Wow!" I say to a fellow cast member sitting across from me. "That's a lot of key rings." I pick up the collection of trinkets, bobbles and charms all interconnected with rings of metal. It's heavy and I let it fall to the table. "It's a collection of lots of things," she says and so we begin to chat.
Noise from the table behind us as well as the one in front carries throughout the building. The sound crescendos and decrescendos as the conversations wax and wane. The waiter approaches, "Will this be on one check (he desperately hopes but knows it won't--still, he must ask...), or separate checks?"
"Separate checks," we all say in unison.
"So, how many siblings to you have?" I ask the owner of the world's biggest key chain conglomeration. She tells me. We talk and I tell her things I remembered from a previous conversation we had weeks ago and her eyes go wide, as if surprised people actually remember things. To me, I do a lot of listening. Sometimes it's just easier.
"You've been to Rome? What's it like?" she asks. "Let me put it this way," I say. "Rome is SO cool that we named our sons after the city. It's like being on another planet."
And it is.
Next, the cellphones come out and it's "Selfie Time!" There's a noticeable pattern at the table next to us. There's the "Let me get a picture," rumblings. Then the smushing--not a lot of sound during this phase. After the picture's snapped, the picture is then checked out by those photographed and again, laughter abounds. This can go on all night and usually does.
Eventually we get our food--different tastes for different folks. I order mine to go. I can't believe how much this show sucks all energy from me. My age is definitely showing. As we eat, laugh, take more pictures (more laughing...), and get to know each other better, fewer and fewer patrons share the space with us. They've finished their meals and left for quieter environs. We remain, active, charged from the performance and exhausted at the same time.
Even though it's Friday night, I leave early--one of the first to depart. I've got appetizers for the Mrs. who is waiting patiently at home. Doing shows takes a lot of time, time away from family. Of course, if I were a teenager or in my 20s, I'd be hanging out as long as I could, laughing, eating, and taking pictures.
I climb in my car, fire up the engine and head home. It's Friday night after the show and I just left the Chili's next to the theatre. Next Friday night, we'll probably do it again.