On The Other Hand

Living in the Valley of the Sun is so different from living in Frankfort. The sun is so bright it hurts the eyes, and the sunsets are magnificent. The temperature isn’t bad either. I walk without a parka, balaclava, gloves and muffler. In fact on most days I wear only a long sleeve tee-shirt and shorts.

Last year, when Peg and I stayed here we were reclusive, visiting only the local movie house. We enjoyed the weather. This year I vowed to make it more adventurous. On day one we visited the visitor’s center and picked up a ton of literature of current happenings. Last week we chose to go to live theater instead of to the movies. I found a play we had seen before called “Fiddler on the Roof”, but it has been some time since. It is playing at the Palms Theater in Mesa. The town can’t be that far away I thought, and it falls into the category of visiting another town. So we bought matinée tickets, lunch and the show. The Rec Center had a special tour going, but the tickets were $99 per person. WOW, that is a lot, we can get there for less if I drive.

Normally, we finish breakfast by ten a.m. but on theater day, we had to get up early to leave by ten. The lunch serving starts at 11:45 and I allowed more than enough time to get there. If we arrive early, I’ll cruise around Mesa and tour the new Chicago Cubs Spring Training Center.

Clueless, my slave attendant inside the Garmin, predicted the ride would take fifty-one minutes. What she failed to realize was the major road blocks along the way. Arizona sets up special navigation exercises for tourists by shutting down roads for repair. We met the first such road block at the entrance to Interstate-10. I had to blow by the entrance and wait for instructions from Clueless. She got us to the next I-10 entrance at some cost of time.

The next surprise came at the merge to Arizona 202 from the I-10. The freeway is six lanes wide at this point and the traffic is heavy. Clueless indicated that I should stay to the extreme left lane, but the road sign said “Exit 147 to 202.” I first jockeyed my way into the critical left lane when I spotted that sign. Immediately I trusted the sign and began moving to the far right lane. I had two more lanes to cross over when I passed by the exit. Again, I waited for obnoxious Clueless to tell me she was re-calculating the route for another loss of time.

Eventually, I got on the 202 and it was smooth sailing from then on. The last time I visited Mesa it was smaller than Frankfort is now. Today, Mesa is inhabited by four-hundred fifty-two thousand souls. There are numerous exits along the 202 all leading into Mesa. We entered at number 2, and Clueless told me to drive twenty-one miles to exit 22.

The further we drove, the more desolate the terrain, and the more I thought Clueless was leading me astray again. There were no signs of people, houses, or buildings of any kind when we got off. We saw only mountains and desert. Have faith Joe. Three miles east of the exit, sub-divisions and commercial buildings began to appear again. Clueless told me to turn left at the next stoplight and then to turn right. Have faith Joe, she is correct most of the time. I made the left turn and immediately turned right into the parking lot of the Palms Theater. We arrived just as the doors opened to the buffet. Our drive time was one hour and twenty minutes, or  twenty-nine minus longer than Clueless predicted.

Lunch was edible and typical of fare one gets at Golden Corral. Even with several hundred people to feed, there was enough time for a relaxing meal and conversation with the six strangers who sat with us.

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The play was absolutely delightful and fully worth the time it took to get there.  The cast impressed me with the opening chorus of “Tradition” with the energy they put into the performance. The same energy lasted throughout the presentation. The singers were all on key and in good voice, the musical background was also excellent.

To me, the success of “Fiddler on the Roof” is dependent upon the actor who plays the role of Tevye, the father. Actor Rob Summers was Tevye. He is not a Topal but he was excellent. He looked the roll, sounded the roll, and played the roll very convincingly. Actor Stephen Turner who plays Motel, Tevye’s son-in-law is the spitting image of Actor Leonard Frey who played the same part in the movie.

Peg and I left the theater talking over the characters and the themes they covered. I liked the play because the story, time, and setting reminded me of my own parents who were born during the same period although in Hungary and not Russia.  I asked Peg “what would you and I do if the mayor of Frankfort told us we had three days to sell our house and leave?” Where would we go, what would we take? The people of the town of Anatevka, Russia were forced to do just that.  How would we feel if one of our kids left with their true love never to see us again?  How would we react if one of our daughters fell in love with a person outside our faith or race? We didn’t have answers to any of these questions, we couldn’t even imagine it happening.

On the long ride home, it became very clear to me why it cost so much to see this play with a tour group. It is the extra cost of the bus ride. It took Clueless two hours to guide us back to our digs in the West Valley. It was a two wine night for me.

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