Thursday, September 8, 2011


Cindy is hurrying down the sidewalk from the Savoy Tivoli on upper Grant where she's had a quick drink before opening the box office.  As she waits to cross Broadway under the tall sign of Carol Doda Topless she hears the barker on front of Big Al's next door giving his spiel to people passing by, couples that giggle, young sailors over from Alameda, rocking a bit with his jive, ``See it right in here folks, Topless, Bottomless, LIVE! NAKED! SEX! On Our Stage, we got it all."  A pause as he glances over at her, ``Hey Cindy, how's it going?" then he continues, ``That's Right Folks,  Completely LIVE,  Completely NAKED, Completely SEX we got it right here on our stage.''
She's heading down to the Little Fox Theater on Pacific to prep the box office for the 8 o'clock show,  ``legitimate'' theater, different from the ``live naked'' theater Cindy just passed. The marquee over the entranceway informs that  ``Snoopy, the Musical'' is now playing.
She unlocks the main doors and then the door to the ticket area, her little kingdom.  A thick glass window with a low opening faces the street, a large calendar hung on the wall with scribbles in almost every numbered boxed, a wood rack slotted for each performance holding the tickets sold for that night, three-ring binders holding the accounting tallies for past nights, and shoved in the corner a small refrigerator.  She sat on the stool and unwraps the salami and cheese from the Molinari's.
Stage hands and cast drifted in, most stopping to say hi and inquire about any phone messages, fan letters (dream on), job offers.  Cindy had eaten about a third of her sandwich when the house phone rings, it the producer in the main office upstairs and he asks her to run down the block and get his suit from the dry cleaners.
``Sure, no problem.  Maybe you need your car waxed too? I got plenty of free time,'' muttering ``Asshole" as she hangs up.
To make sure her sandwich would still be there when she returned she covered it with a paper napkin on which she'd scribbled, ``Don't eat this, I spit on it.''
She returns from the errand, hangs the plastic shrouded suit behind the door, pulls her stool back to the ticket window and reaches to the sandwich.  Under her words on the napkin someone had added, ``So did I.'' 
Bit later she sees Tim down the street coming in to work, his gangly saunter, hands and feet too large, waiting for the rest of his body to grow into them.  Just a big puppy, no wonder he was cast as Snoopy.  He exaggerates the movements for her as he bounces up to the customer window, leans into round metal voice slot and whines:  ``Is this show any good?  I don't want to spend my money if it's one of those shows that's full of really crappy acting.''
``Well, most of the acting is great, but there's this one, the guy that plays Snoopy, who's a real drip.  We think he must be having an affair with one of the producers.''
``Not what I hear! I hear he's just dreamy!  And did you know that today is his birthday?  The young thing is currently accepting gifts---cashmere, cash, drugs, any and all of the above.''
Cindy grins at Tim across the glass partition, ``If Miss Birthday Thing is one year closer to being the old queen everyone says she is, she sure shouldn't be announcing that fact.''
Tim heads backstage as she punches the house phone, "He just got here but he'll be in the dressing room for an hour. We'll need the gift at least twenty minutes before curtain.''
Over the next hour people come to the window to pick up their tickets before going off, out to make an evening of North Beach, drinks, dinner and a show, maybe more drinks.  She didn't notice when the streetlights came on,  only vaguely aware it had become evening.  Somewhere up above there must be stars, the easy peace at day's end, but down here her workday was just beginning.
``Excuse me,'' a voice interrrupts.  She looks up at a handsome tanned face and a confident grin on the other side of the glass, heavy starch blue button down shirt,  a groomed successful look, preppie, maybe young stockbroker.
``Hi, I'm Carl, here for the birthday. I'm not late am I?''
It came out automatic, the oldest line in the book, ``I don't know, what time were you planning on getting here?''
She phones upstairs, ``Your gift is here.''  Dana comes down, smiles approvingly as she and Carl are introduced and as the two move into the lobby Dana looks back flashes a little thumbs up.  Cindy shakes her head watching the young man and mutters, ``Why is it that all the good looking ones—it's just not fair.''
The typical rush just before curtain, a line of eight or ten, people starting to get anxious, but no mistakes, no missing reservations. Tonight the evening report would have to wait, she wrapped the cash and charge receipts and put them in the safe uncounted then locked up the little room to join the others on the back row of the theater.  It was, after all, Tim's birthday.

[Act One]:
The curtain opens to an enormous doghouse stage center, chin high to the cast emphasizing that they are children and the audience is viewing a cartoon panel.  There's Snoopy reclining across the top.  Members of the Peanuts gang drift in and perform song routines that Cindy usually hears as background music each night while she finishes her report.  At some point Snoopy clambers down and crawls inside his house while the others continue the cartoon bickering and the singing.

[Act Two]:
The cast performs a few more rollicking numbers that lead to Snoopy's next cue, something like ``Oh no! It's the Red Baron!''  A pause while the onstage group looks to the doghouse. The pause extends and the Peanuts gang turns towards one another quizzically.  So again, louder, ``The Red Baron!''

From her last row seat Cindy could see audience heads leaning to one another as it became obvious something was amiss.  Once more, ``It's the Red Baron!''
Snoopy finally snakes from the doghouse, with a distant grin and a gaze to the back row where he knows his gang will be sitting.  The cast onstage keeps from making eye contact so that there won't be a communal break down into convulsive laughter.
Cindy slips out, back to the box office to finish her report.  At intermission Carl the birthday gift pokes his head in the door on his way out,  ``I thought I'd had weird requests before, bondage, dungeons, Nazi uniforms, Cub Scout uniforms, licking boots, but after this they'll all seem pretty lame."