Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bittersweet


This past weekend I drove out to Palm Desert to see a dinner theater revue. There were reasons not to go, including the fact that I do not own a car, right now, and a round trip of over two hundred miles is not something I wanted to do on my scooter.

Domestic Partner kindly allowed me to borrow his car for the evening, which I was grateful for because there were reasons to go, too. The first reason: the show was performed right in my Aunt Pat's retirement community. She loves live theater as much as I do, and even volunteers as an usher at a local theatre. Aunt Pat and I will spend small fortunes on each other for good seats when a national tour comes through Los Angeles.

This was not traditional dinner theater in the sense that the audience watches a performance of a play or well known musical. This was a cabaret type performance, or a musical revue, in which the singers and dancers are also the serving staff. It is a specific style of dinner theater that the Young Americans had done for many years, a while back, here in Southern California.

The second reason: it is also the same style of dinner theater that I had done at Tibbie's Music Hall in Huntington Beach. It was my first paid gig as a performer, shortly after being fired from Disneyland almost twenty years ago. So, I was anxious to relive some good memories by attending this performance.

My main reason for wanting to go, I must confess, was that the entire production was directed and put together by an ex-boyfriend, Mr. Heartbreaker. I had worked with Mr. Heartbreaker in Japan and discovered that he has an absolute gift for arranging music, both instrumentally and vocally. During our brief time together as a couple, it was sheer joy to be in one of his vocal groups and sing four part and even six part harmonies. His talent and genius made me fall harder for him than I already had.

This was the guy I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. As long as there was music--and with him, that was practically guaranteed--I felt that we would always be happy together. We were together for only a short amount of time, much shorter than I would have liked. After leaving Japan, he continued on with his music, as did my feelings for him.

So, I was anxious to attend this show. A small, permanent part of me will always carry the torch for Mr. Heartbreaker, for the rest of my life, even if we are not meant to be together. It only took about a decade or so for me to accept that fact and learn to live with it, peacefully.

Domestic Partner knows about Mr. Heartbreaker. I give Domestic Partner extra points for being secure enough to let me borrow his car for the purpose of seeing an ex-boyfriend's show.

Typically, I felt I understood all of the sad love songs more acutely after being dumped by Mr. Heartbreaker all those years ago. I made a two hour mix tape for him, then, full of all the torch songs that expressed my sadness and continuing yearning for him. I ended up not giving the tape to him. Instead, I crushed it under my heaviest work boots, attempting to symbolically pulverize the lingering heartache away.

I couldn't even stay friends with Mr. Heartbreaker, at first. It hurt too much every time I saw him with someone new. It was a few months after parting ways with him that I met Domestic Partner. It was Domestic Partner that helped me to truly move on, and I will always be grateful to him for that.

A dozen years later, the same torch songs still make me think of Mr. Heartbreaker. Fortunately, I can think of him in a more peaceful way, now. One of the saddest parts of my life is over and done, and I am immensely relieved. I can only pray that I will never feel that heartbroken again.

The show was good. It was full of upbeat numbers and the energy of the youthful, talented performers. It took me back to my own dinner theater days as I had anticipated. I was not disappointed. The show also included some of the very same songs that make me think of Mr. Heartbreaker: 'On My Own'(Les Miserables), 'For Good' (Wicked), and 'Touch Me in the Morning' (Diana Ross):

"We don't have tomorrow
But we had yesterday . . . Let's just be glad for the time together."

From the darkness of the audience, I watched Mr. Heartbreaker playing the keyboard among the other musicians while the sad love songs were being sung, admiring and adoring him as much as I had when I first met him. These were his musical arrangements and vocal harmonies I was hearing once again. It was his choreography and staging we were all watching.

"You son of a bitch," the Gwen Verdon-esque character says to the Bob Fosse-esque character in the film, "All That Jazz," after watching a workshop rehearsal of his genius choreography. Despite being divorced from him, and despite his former mistreatment of her, she still loves him, mostly because he is amazingly talented.

Mr. Heartbreaker is not a son of a bitch, much as I may have wanted to think of him that way at one time. But he is amazingly talented, and that small, permanent part of me will always love him as I had told him so many years ago.

I still fantasize about the could've-beens, now and then.

4 comments:

Quin Browne said...

i hate when you make me cry.



i love dp more and more.

Erin said...

Okay, that one hurt.

thelastnoel said...

It's always the Mr. Heartbreakers that make us better people. Oy! I felt your pain.

Scott said...

oh my god. i'm just emoting like crazy after that