An account of one of these unfortunately all-too-rare occurrences in which things turn out right. 

Listen while you read to “Give Me Another Kiss” from “10 Strings” by the Panache Orchestra

Friday, Sept. 16, 2011

Chi and I had a fun date on Friday!  I got tickets to a world premiere production of the play “Poor Behavior” by the Center Theatre Group, so when I got home from the day job, we had a nice spread of appetizers (it’s not fun to be totally starving halfway through the show!), and then set off for the Mark Taper Forum.  I got a little irked with Chi for making us late by doing his routine of filling various containers with various types of alcohol to bring into the theatre, and was non plussed at him telling me as we were hurrying from the parking garage to the theatre that he ended up not bringing the alcohol along after all since he realized that it would make a bad impression.  Since when has he ever been concerned about making a bad impression?!  Anyway, we ended up getting there in time to be seated, so it all turned out ok.

Plays are especially challenging for Chi since, at least in this country, they are normally performed in English, and it’s all dialogue.  However in this case, the story line was so readily apparent and so acutely relevant that he really enjoyed it!  In fact, we both found it highly cathartic.  It left me wondering that if art imitates life, so it follows that the drama portrayed by the play is supposedly pretty normal, then perhaps Chi and my marriage may not be quite so fucked up as I’d previously believed?  All the insane shit that went on in the play was perfectly plausible under our roof just amongst ourselves, even without adding in the extra aggravating factor of the other couple and alleged affair.

It also underscored the point that even people/couples/friends who speak the same language and are more or less culturally in the same book, if not on the same page, still have issues like this, then how much more likely would it be for people from extremely different cultures with a barely-functioning common language, particularly when the situation is routinely aggravated by substance abuse and mental illness?

I was further vindicated to read in the program notes that the play had been inspired by an actual incident the playwright, Theresa Rebeck, experienced and described as a really nasty weekend in the country with old friends…one of whom was in the process of cracking up, and that the title “Poor Behavior” had its origin in an acquaintance of the playwright’s labeling of someone having “treated her poorly”, who had in fact been an absolute nightmare to her, and the way that label came to represent civility and incivility mashed up against each other.

A comment to the review in the L.A. Times of the play summed it up most strikingly as follows: “Feel like having your soul drained? Then go watch four very unlikeable characters hurt each other rather comically for two hours.”  In our case, watching actors psychically decimate each other both deliberately and unintentionally for those two hours gave us a deep sense of satisfaction and relief that we only had to be spectators rather than the actual combatants this time.  I wonder if this means that we are “very unlikeable characters” to others?  I would be inclined to believe not based on the number of perfectly decent people who regularly seek our company, but I’m sure it would become true if other people had to watch what goes on in our home on a nearly day-in, day-out basis.  In fact, that reminds me of another play we saw at the Taper last year, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo that in an earlier review had been described as especially disturbing and unsettling.  When we saw it, I found it oddly mild and comical vis-a-vis the review I had read, and was nonplussed to realize that it was because the dialogue was so on par with the totally insane shit that regularly takes place under our own roof that I was desensitized to it!