|I worked the morning, and then headed out of town for Charleston at close to noon. I took the I-40E to I-95S to I-26E route, and made decent time, as one will when averaging the speeds I averaged.|
I'm visiting two friends of mine, who are here from London—Michael and his partner, Nick. I know Michael from IBM and his partner is big in the theater in the West End, as quite the successful lighting designer. In 2002, they invited me to London to spend four days with them, for Michael's 40th birthday, and the two of them took about twelve of us (all at their treat—including the London-Paris round-trip on the Eurostar and our hotels nights) to carouse around Paris for three days celebrating Michael's birthday. What a time! It's all in my blog, of course, starting on this date.
From my car on the way down, I tried to check-in with them at the hotel they told me they'd be staying at—or so I understood—but when asking for either of their names at Charleston on the Beach, I received a polite, "I'm sorry, sir, we don't have anyone with a reservation under either of those names."
After seeing a billboard ad for free wi-fi at a Sleep Inn at an upcoming exit, I stopped there, went into their lobby, and booted up my laptop. From the Internet, I copied down the phone number for 1) the theater at which Nick's show is being staged and 2) the administrative contact for the Spoleto Festival.
Back on the road, I first called the theater, where I thought I could either speak with, or leave a message for, Nick. I assumed they'd be in rehearsals there with the show opening on Friday. "Hello. You've reached Ticketmaster." Damnit!
Next trying the administrative office for the festival, I reached David, whom I quite sure was family, and after explaining whom I was trying to reach, he said, "Let me connect you to our production department; they should be able to help you."
After being connected to Susie, and explaining my predicament again, she said, "I'm going to transfer you one more time—to Laura. She's our housing coordinator, and she should be able to help you get the information you need."
Everyone was real nice, and long story long, she gave me the address of the place at which they were staying—just off the beach, just down the street from that Charleston on the Beach hotel. I guess they meant that they'd be staying near that hotel, not at it.
Once in Charleston, I checked into my hotel, fired up my laptop, google-mapped the address they'd given me on the phone, and headed down to the beach to try and find them. I love technology that actually works and makes your life easier. I also had to laugh, because ironically, this would have been a great time to have that GPS system my ex and I were talking about just yesterday.
I couldn't have had better timing if I had tried to. Just as I pulled up to their place, a car was pulling out of the driveway. I jumped out of my car and waved at it, and Nick pulled to a stop. He, and his colleague (his lighting assistant, who's straight, and staying with them), were heading to the theater. "Michael's up on the pier, reading," he said. He left, and I walked down to the pier, which was adjacent to that Charleston on the Beach hotel.
I didn't find Michael on the pier, and so I checked the bar on the pier, then the bar at the hotel next door, and then four of them within about 300 feet of the pier, feeling quite sure I'd find him in one of them. I didn't.
I went back to the pier, and sat outside of the pier restaurant and had a bourbon and diet and their shrimp and crab appetizer. Yum! Just as I finished, my phone rang, and it was Michael. He had been in touch with Nick, who had told him I was there. It turned out that he was upstairs in one of the bars in which I had looked for him.
We had a couple of Bloody Marys at his place, and then I drove back to my hotel with him, where we googled the gay bars, and headed over to one called Dudley's.
|Dudley's is "a swish little lounge with attractive bar tables and stools and a welcoming bar with video screens above it. And just off the main room is a separate area where you can shoot pool. The crowd tends to be a catch-all of gay Charleston life: women and men of all ages and races, and quite a few straight customers, too. Dudley's, because it's quieter and more of a conversation bar, tends to draw a slightly older bunch, especially on weekends when the young'uns are next door partying at Pantheon." |
Not sure about that choice of adjective—swish—though, surprisingly to me at least, onelook gives its meaning as "elegant and fashionable." I didn't know that. I guess walking with a swish is a good thing then.
The end of American Idol was on the TV and the other people in there (not many) were glued to it. Neither Michael nor I cared anything about it. We had a couple of drinks, played some pool with a couple more drinks, and then at close to 11:00, we rode up the street to the Sottile Theater, where Nick and his assistant were finishing up. We stepped inside to wait.
They were at the tail end of their final rehearsal before the dress rehearsal, and the whole behind-the-scenes glimpse into the theater was fascinating to me. The actual rehearsal wrapped up within about ten minutes of being there, but then the different production groups met in various corners of the theater and had meetings.
It got to be ten or fifteen more minutes, and since he was riding back to the beach with Nick and his assistant, Michael said, "John, there's no need for you to hang around for this drudgery. Go on back, and do stay in town for the dress rehearsal tomorrow night." I think I will.