I made a new day seat single-serving friend today. I was queuing for American Buffalo (starring Damian Lewis and John Goodman) behind some American students. They were talking about going clubbing in London.
But if you know me, you’ll know I did not strike up a conversation with them. No, my single-serving friend was behind me. He smelled a little like the men who cluster around the computers in the public library, and I’ll admit at first whiff I thought he was an old homeless man. But he stayed in the queue, reading his newspaper, while the other 10 of us were glued to our phones. Ten minutes before the box office opened, he struck up a conversation. I can’t remember about what, but before I knew it, we were comparing West End shows and swapping day seat stories — something I know way more about than the club scene. Our seats ended up being next to each other, so the conversation continued 4 hours later. He told me he had traveled to all 50 states and hit 91 of America’s 100 most populated cities — an impressive feat for an American, yet alone a 70-something-year-old English man. Then he gave me this bit of advice:
“If there’s one place in the world you should never go, it’s Akron, Ohio.”
This came completely out of left field — we were discussing California beforehand, and I hadn’t even told him I was from Cincinnati. He said the whole city of Akron was completely deserted during the day, and there wasn’t even a McDonald’s in the city center. I should have asked him what year he was there, as it was probably awhile ago, and I like to think downtown Akron now has a McDonald’s and perhaps even a Chipotle. It was so refreshing to talk to someone who had been to both more U.S. states and West End shows than I have.
After the show we both agreed the acting was better than the play — Damian Lewis and John Goodman were both brilliant. Then we got up and parted ways with a simple — “See you in the next day seat queue!”