Being Able to Surprise a Loved One is the Best Gift of All (12/10/19)

As today ends, I am truly feeling so full and happy. My dad was in the city with his wife today, and it was also the day that I was going to surprise him with tickets to see To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway. I had already told Susan, his wife, about it a good bit back, but I was just so excited to finally tell my dad and take him. I wasn’t sure how I was going to play it off when I told him today, so what I decided to do was to write a simple Christmas card that at the end just said “I do have a question for you-“, and then just ask him if he likes “To Kill a Mockingbird”, to which when he said yes I’d say “That’s great because we’re going to go see it”. Honestly I love being able to do these things for the ones I love in my life. I love being able to surprise them and give them really amazing experiences, and give back a little for all the good they’ve given me in my life. Now the plan of the day was to meet up for dinner at Sardi’s at 5:45, which was right across the street from the theater, so at least we’d be able to be in and out, and still make it to the show by 7PM when it started. Now since I stayed up as late as I always do last night, I ended up waking up around 1:20, to a text from my dad asking me to call him when I was up and moving. Around 1:30 or 1:40 he gave me a call, asking if I’d seen his text, to which I replied “I did. I am up, but I am not moving yet”. Basically he was just checking in to make sure I knew to come at 5:45; he seemed a bit anxious that I was there on time, but I had hoped that he still didn’t know the surprise. My plan of action as we ended the call was to get up, shower, run an errand or two, and then meet up with them at Sardi’s at 5:45 no problem; I’d love to say I did that, I really would. But unsurprisingly what happened instead was that I finally got my ass out of bed around 3:30 or 3:45, showered, got dressed, and got the hell out of my apartment around 4:30, making it to the subway around 4:40.

As I waited at the platform, I was thrown off when I 5 train and a 2 train pulled up to the station, instead of the usual 4 and 3; did someone forget how to count or something? Knowing that the 5 still would take me, hopefully express, up to Grand Central, I made the call to just get on, and before I knew it I was on my way to Manhattan. Thankfully my assumptions were correct, and before too long I had made it all the way up to Grand Central, getting off and exiting the subway and into the main concourse. Now I knew I should have just made my way to the S and been on my way to the restaurant, but I had an errand to run; I needed to send that birthday card to my ex and get that done, since her birthday is in fact tomorrow. And I will say, I’ve been debating whether I’d send a card, or text her, or whatever for a good while now, and even though I’ve had plenty of people tell me not to because… well because it’s a terrible idea to even knock on that door, I don’t want to just completely burn that bridge. I’m not a fan of just deleting people from my life if I can help it, and my goal at this point is to at least be amicable with her, and work to eventually build back at least a bit of rapport. I know I blew it with that last letter; too much emotion just word vomited into a letter and sent, but I can’t take back the past. All I can do is try and move forward, and maybe at least lay down one plank. So that’s what I did. I headed over to the nearest post office, which took a hot second to find but I did find it, and head inside to buy some postage stamps; I only had one left and well… it got used with the letter that was just delivered back to me by the post office for some reason. It took a bit of waiting before I finally got to the machine and bought my stamps, but before too long I got it done, dropped off my letter, and was on my way.

Heading back into Grand Central, I caught the next S and road that over to 7th Ave, where I got out and quickly headed over to Sardi’s; I was running late which is no surprise at this point, but thankfully I made it inside around 5:55 and headed into the main dining room area, where I greeted dad and Susan and the three of us sat down to eat. As we began chatting and looking over the menu, I quickly shuffled through my bag and handed dad the card I had written him last night. “What’s the question?” What do you think about To Kill a Mockingbird? “Well I’ve never read the book, but I know the plot and really want to read it”. That’s good, because we’re going to see it tonight. “What?” My dad was stunned. Apparently before I got there, he had just mentioned to Susan that he would actually like to see the show at some point; thank goodness we’re going to see it then! Honestly I’m just so grateful that mum was the word, and my dad knew nothing of this. Now my dad is a very kind man, and had done so many amazing things for my brother, sister, and I growing up. I was so glad that for once I was able to surprise him, and give him just a really cool experience. He was genuinely shocked and it just made the whole thing all the sweeter. Now we did have to order, so when the server came on by, Susan ordered some fish, my dad ordered two appetizers- the shrimp and a soup that had meatballs in it- and I ordered the chicken parmigiana after asking the waiter if that or the pork would come out quicker. And might I say- expensive food, but damn was it good. Also to be fair, this was the first meal I was eating today, so I understandably wolfed it down, but here we are. As the time started encroaching on 6:40, we asked for the bill. As the waiter came by me, I subtly pulled out my wallet and got my card out, with my dad only noticing right as I was handing my card to the server. “What?” Yeah I’m paying for dinner dad. Surprise!

See here’s the thing- I know that if I told my dad and Susan that I would be paying for the meal, they would still snatch up the bill when it arrived at the table and I would be shit out of luck. My only option was to be sneaky, and thank god I pulled it off. Honestly what I think was the funniest part was when the server came back and handed me the check, he said “Good man”. With not much time to spare, we headed out and across the street, where I picked up our tickets from the TodayTix employees and headed on into the theater to get seated. Now Susan had used the bathroom in the restaurant, but my dad and I still had to go, so after we found our seats- row D in the Mezzanine, very much Stage Left- we quickly headed over to the bathroom, making it back to our seats just before the curtains rose. Now I know the story of To Kill a Mockingbird. We were supposed to read it in my 10th grade English class, but I never did. But seeing it in person was just magnificent and so much fun. Well… I say fun, but given some of the depressing and dark material discussed in the production- whether it be racism or rape or abuse and assault- I think the best word I could use to describe the show is “powerful”. I mean the acting was phenomenal, and the set- oh my god the set was gorgeous. Rotating rooms, set pieces coming up from the floor and down from the ceiling, just wow. I’ve been wanting to see this show for quite a bit now, but actually being able to see it- experience such a rich and well done show, was just so gratifying. It made me really think about what I’d like to do with my acting career. See I love musicals because they are just so much fun, but being able to do something as powerful as To Kill a Mockingbird? Man that would be something, wouldn’t it? I guess my opinion still hasn’t changed- I want to do it all. I want to star in a musical and a straight play on Broadway, star in a movie, a tv show, a Disney movie. There’s so much I want to get done, I think the hardest thing is figuring out where in the hell I’m going to start.

As the actors took their bows to a standing ovation from the audience, I just wished and hoped that someday soon that’d be me. We quickly made our way out of the theater and over to Junior’s for some cheesecake- my dad’s favorite dessert. As we stood in line, Susan said that she was going to pay, to which I promptly responded “No it’s my treat; you can treat tomorrow”. Her and my dad both replied how nice it was for one of my dad’s children to be paying for things, to which Susan jokingly said “Don’t get used to it”. What I will say is that I am so damn grateful to be able to pay for things like this, and be able to make a couple extravagant expenses for my family, thanks to Eataly. Honestly it’s still surreal to me how different my life was even seven months ago. I mean in May my heart was broken and my bank account was running so close to being empty that I couldn’t help but begin to panic about what in the fuck I was going to do. Now I’m able to treat not only my sister and her boyfriend, but also my dad and his wife to Broadway shows and a meal, all on me. It just makes me so happy honestly. After a delicious cheesecake, the three of us took a selfie in front of the theater before it was time to make our way back to our respective homes. They’re actually staying in the upper East side, so the three of us made our way to the subway, catching the S and taking that to Grand Central before they headed off to catch the 6 uptown and I… well I should have been able to quickly catch the 4 and head downtown. Unfortunately for me there were some pretty severe delays with the 4, so I spent the 20 minutes it took for the next train to arrive talking to Mags, before I was finally on the train and on my way home. Finally arriving at Crown Heights, I made my way to the Bodega, where I picked up some chips and cookies for myself, along with a cosmic brownie for Julian who asked me to pick one up for him, and made my way back to my apartment. Julian was still up, actually waiting for the brownie, so we ended up chatting for a bit as I unpacked my Stitch Fix outfit, which was very cool to get by the way, before he headed in for the night and I went to my room to play some League. It’s now 2:51 and I have lunch with my dad and Susan at noon tomorrow, so I definitely should get ready and well, get some sleep for once. Tomorrow is also my ex’s birthday, and even though that letter has been sent and will hopefully be making its way to her tomorrow, I’m thinking about sending her the message via text as well, just in case she ends up not even getting the letter. Incredibly dumb idea I know, but I feel like if I don’t do this I’m just going to regret it, and I’m all about living my life without regrets, and just accepting the consequences and dealing with the aftermath. Here’s to the future- whatever it may hold for me.

Until next time,

-Michael

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