Friday, September 01, 2006

A Window on the World

Back when smoking in restaurants was the norm and not the exception, and restaurants kept matchbooks as a matter of course, we would pick one up as we left for one of two reasons. Either we would have really liked the place and knew we'd not remember it otherwise, particularly if we were traveling, or we'd take the matches because we might need them in the RV.

Once our RV days were over, I gathered all the matchbooks, and loathe to throw them away, I put them in a box. Said box disappeared into a drawer and wasn't retrieved until we remodeled the kitchen 5 years ago. Then it found its way to another drawer. Last year, in need of matches for the patio candles, I reached in and grabbed a few books and never thought one way or the other where they were from.

So when we were entertaining our English in-laws, Chris and Ian, one fine September night last year, and we needed to light the citronella candles to discourage the mosquitoes (a vain attempt to be sure), I tossed a book to Ian. He's more curious than I and questioned my choice. Did I really want to use these? and he tossed them back.

1985. August. We were traveling to DC for the obligatory family tour of the Smithsonian, et al, and one of our stops was to visit friends in Ft. Monmouth, NJ. They had arranged for a babysitter for our collective four sons and had tickets to "Cats" at the Winter Garden. From there, we'd taxi down to the World Trade Center and have dinner at Windows on the World.

"Cats" was a delight and a much more personal show than when we would eventually see it in Dallas at the State Fair Musical Hall. The Winter Garden was small and intimate--and the cats were very close! I still smile thinking of it.

Riding the elevator up to the restaurant was a bit intimidating, but nothing like the maitre' d who wished to seat us against a back wall in the near-empty restaurant! Our friend gave him a tip "up front" and we got a window table. The Statue of Liberty was undergoing reconstruction so all we could see was scaffolding--but from the top down! I can't remember what we ate, probably steak, but I do know we've always chalked that day up to one of our most perfect ones, the lesson in commerce notwithstanding!

The playbill from "Cats" is gone, as is the ticket stub. The friends are divorced. The RV was sold. But in my hand last year I held the last remaining physical evidence we'd ever been there--and I put it away somewhere safe. I tossed Ian a book of matches I'd bought at Wal-Mart and was glad that every once in a while, it's okay to be a sentimental pack rat.


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