Saturday, February 19, 2005

My Family Got Me, and They Got Me Good

According to the plan, my mom and dad would drive up Friday morning, check into their hotel by afternoon, I'd leave work at 4, and we'd all go to a nice dinner, ending the night with ShePlays.

I called my mom on her cell, 9am, Friday. "There's traffic," she said, "It's raining and there are lots of accidents. We're taking side streets."

I called at 3pm, "We're still in traffic," she said, "Camarillo, I think."

"I'm sorry!" I said, "I'm sorry it's so bad out there. What exits are you passing? You know, I'll tell you if it's Camarillo or not."

"I'm not sure. I'm not paying attention."

"I've made dinner reservations for 5:30. It doesn't sound like that'll be a problem."

"Oh," she said, "Where?"

When I saw the quarter, I was standing outside the office, digging my foot in the dirt. It was propped against the outer wall, heads up. I stuck it in my pocket, finished talking, and went inside. Six hours in traffic? What kind of mood would that put them in? Not a very good one, I bet.

At 4:45 I called again. There was a lot of noise in the background. My mom said, "We're checking into the hotel now. Don't worry, we're on our way."

I said, "What great timing! I'll see you soon."

At 5, I opened the front door and saw my parents getting out of their car. And then I saw something crazy: my sister. My sister who lives in North Carolina. My sister whose got more day jobs than I'd know what to do with. My sister was walking up to the house with my parents. I looked from the car to my dad and said, "What the Hell? Oh my God." Now picture me repeating that for an hour and you've got the first part of our evening.

My sister got on a plane and flew into town -- complete with lousy LAX experience -- to see my play. My parents arrived at noon and checked into their hotel early. All day long my mom had had to lie. She said she almost lost it when I started asking questions. As it was, she'd had to rehearse all her calls ahead of time. She'd even had to call the restaurant where I'd made reservations and add one more to the tally. The deception was elaborate; I was never prouder.

My sister is back on a plane now -- not even in town for twenty-four hours, just long enough to see my play, refuel, and leave. I still can't believe it. I can't believe it worked, I can't believe they pulled it off, I can't believe any of it. Her employees called twice at dinner, looking for guidance, and she's a whole country away.

We had a full house last night. The plays were packed and the audience was there to laugh. It was the best show yet.

As we walked down the street family-style, I shook my head and smiled, "I'm going to have to write plays more often."

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