Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How I bullied small children while watching a mediocre play for free in Hollywood

Last week I went with Best Friend to see A Midsummer Night's Dream for free in Barnsdall Park.

Yeah. There's a reason it's free.

It's a nice thing, really. There's a little patch of grass where people can set up picnics and lay down while they watch the play and there are some chairs at the back for the people who are afraid of getting their pants dirty. Best Friend and I had intentions of going with a bunch of girls and doing a potluck, but as usual everybody bailed but us. I can't tell you how many times we've had groups of eight or nine reduced to the two of us.

So we got Subway, complete with chips and cookies purchased from the dumbest teenage cashier I've ever handed money.

Her: Which kind of cookie?

Me: Chocolate chip.

She grabs the chocolate macadamia. Chocolate macadamia is a black cookie with white chips.

Me: No, chocolate chip.

She grabs what appears to be chocolate chip and holds it up like she's not sure.

Me: Chocolate chip.

It was M&M. I discovered this while laying on the lawn at the theater.

But I digress.

Most of the cast was good. The girl playing Helen was pretty fantastic, and although he missed a few comic opportunities I thought Nick Bottom did a good reading. The fairies were delightful and Puck was so brutally hot I thought my eyeballs were going to sear off.

The problem with this play was mostly Hermia. It was one of the worst performances I've ever seen. You know that scene in Hamlet where Hamlet goes on and on about what not to do on stage when you're performing? She did all of it. And in A Midsummer Night's Dream of all plays, where Nick Bottom represents the stereotypical bad actor as a symbol of mockery.

Hermia had a Russian accent, which is not her fault, really, but when you're screaming every line and flailing your arms wildly about the accent certainly isn't helping matters. I didn't understand why two hot dudes would be in love with this whiny, loud girl with eyes bugged out and too much blush on when they could have had the prettier girl who was a lot nicer and could actually act. It brought the entire performance down. Every time she was on stage I was trying to remember how many lines she had so I'd know how soon she'd go away.

It also didn't help that the play within the play, the performance of Pyramus and Thisbe, didn't go as it was supposed to. At the end of the play the actor performing the part of Thisbe is supposed to go from comic to serious. You're supposed to laugh, then suddenly get somber. The problem is people kept laughing when they weren't supposed to. The actor didn't give the right performance to relay the change in tone. I've been told Macbeth is better.

Then there were the children. Behind us were sitting a dozen 10-12 year olds who had read the play in class. Although I was impressed with their academic abilities and more than a little envious of whatever teacher was able to read essays that actually say things, I was greatly annoyed by their need to constantly repeat every joke said on stage while the scene was still in progress.

Boy: She's wearing her purse on her head.
Girl: Who?
Boy: Her purse. She's wearing it on her head.
Girl: Whose purse?
Boy: Hers. It's on her head.
Girl: Haha. It's on her head. Hey, her purse is on her head.
Second Boy: That's her purse?
Girl: Yeah.
Boy: See? It's on her head.
Second Boy: Haha! Her purse is on her head. That's funny.
Boy: I know.
Second Boy: Her purse is on her head.
Girl: It's on her head. Haha.


So after intermission, just as the performance was about to resume, I turned around and squatted in front of the group whose chaperon was apparently comatose.

Me: Children. Do not talk through this play or I will start stabbing people.

Then the play resumed. There was no immediate talking, then a timid whisper.

Me: Stabbing.....

Then there was no sound for a while then one brave androgynous child in a hoodie started to whisper loudly about something funny the fairy did. Apparently, she put a purse on her head.

I turned around and gave three full seconds of Evil Glare. There was nary a peep out of any children ever again until they expressed universal confusion over a penis joke.

Let me tell you about Evil Glare. Teachers know. Think of the most horrifyingly sinister thing you have ever witnessed, then imagine it radiating from a small white face with blond hair. That's Evil Glare, every teacher's best friend. It strikes fear in the heart of small children. The small children were indeed afraid.

I resumed watching Hermia scream in peace.

And that is how I bullied a set of 12 year olds while watching a mediocre play for free in Hollywood.


  1. Yeah, yeah, I know-- I'm a weird kid, a bad person, whatever.

    But pretty much every time I ever had a teacher try (and the operative word is "try") to give me The Evil Glare, by reaction was to smile, chuckle, and wave, because at the end of the day, the teacher can't really do much more than glare, and no glare is gonna put any sort of dent or scratch in my armor.

    the fun thing is, the trick holds just as true with adults. In recent weeks I've had three occasions where some big bully of a dad tried to intimidatre with a homicidal glare as I said something with which he just did not agree.




    We both know that's all you got in the tank, so who do you think you're fooling?
    B (not a bad kid-- just not one content to roll over with fear on cue)

    PS-- this is not to say that I have not USED the Evil Glare... just that it don't work on me. ;-)

  2. I was a bad child. When the evil glare was used on me (and I wasn't at school), I gave the evil finger in return.

  3. I love these little 'up in your grill' encounters that you have. Hilarious. They're like episodes of Seinfeld or something. :-)


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