I went to see a play in an extremely small Venice venue last night. The theater was comprised of tiered seating for maybe 30 people total, with stacks of 4-wide seats on one side of the aisle, and stacks of only 2-wide on the other… kinda like a 737 but not nearly as big. A friend of mine and I had the last two seats in the back on the double-seat side, and we had to climb a little ladder to get up there, as if it was a crow’s nest on a very small tall ship.

The whole production was put on by 4 people, 2 main characters and then a couple of other guys that pulled double-duty for some of the smaller parts; and 4 red chairs arranged in different ways was the sum total for the sets.

This play was… intense. So intense, in fact, that one of my friends had to leave at intermission, along with a couple of other random people. When 3 people leave in a 30-person theater there goes 10% of your audience. The thing was, it was good (at least I thought so), but it was kind of like walking into A Clockwork Orange when you were expecting to see a cute film about elves making magic clocks in an orange tree.

A Clockwork Orange, by the way, being the only other performance that I’ve ever seen anyone walk out of due to it just being “too much”. It was the girl who would eventually become my college girlfriend, and she left during the part where Alex is being brain-washed and they’re holding his eyes opens with those clips to force him to watch violent movies. The ironic thing was that I always had the impression that L was the toughest girl I ever met, and that little episode illustrated for the first time that that may, at least partially, have been a front.

But I digress.

The play basically consisted of a married couple, dealing with an illness in their family, and succumbing to the intensity and pressure of the situation to where they start to take it out on each other.

You know, like real life.

The arguments and the biting comments were so real, in fact, that it took me back to every mean spirited argument I ever had with ADG or L or anyone, and it made my stomache churn (and I liked it… cause I’m weird). At intermission, I turned to my friend and said, “I am so glad I’m single right now,” and he looked at me laughing, “I was just thinking the same thing!”

It was that kind of play.

It was also that kind of play where at the end of it you said, “I need a drink,” and meant it. So, down the street to James Beach where I met an enchanting girl from Hollywood… and two of the girls I’ve dated briefly in the past few months. I was on my toes. I was on eggshells. I was on fire.

A smaller retinue eventually migrated over to the Backstage again where we were denied singing due to a long list of names. I was totally ready to sing Livin’ on a Prayer, too.

After that, Hollywood Girl and I slid into Johnnie’s Pastrami to share chili cheese fries and pie a la mode. Here’s the thing about the chili-cheese-fries:

I know what I’m doing.

I’ve had your Tommy’s, I’ve had your Apple Pan (OK, not chili-cheese fries, but it’s in the same genre), I’ve had your Original Tommy’s and all the other clones, and I’ve now had your Johnnie’s Pastrami.

None of these even compare with The Habit in Goleta, right outside of IV, but still firmly within the paradise that is Santa Barbara. The Habit (formerly The Hamburger Habit) has, without a doubt (and I believe tony will back me up on this0, the best chili-cheese fries, burgers, and shakes that have ever been created.

I do not exaggerate.

I may, in fact, need to drive up there this afternoon just to re-prove it to myself.

Having said that, Johnnie’s was OK, but it was really the company that made it great. When I flopped into bed at 3:30 I reflected how I told myself that I was going to keep my head down this weekend. So far, I’m glad I didn’t.

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