2-37. A Reward

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My e-mail is full of invitations to do things. Come to this conference! Travel to this place! Try this restaurant! I find it easy to weed through most of them with the thought “never heard of it.” And while most things of this nature are spam, sometimes it’s a good idea to take a closer look.

I received such an e-mail from someone I met at a conference who expressed an interest in the things I was doing. It was an invitation to see a play called “Louis & Keely: Live at the Sahara.” It looked like some sort of musical tribute to a lounge act, and initially I was inclined to discard it with everything else. I did a quick bit of research and found out that “Louis” was “Louis Prima,” a name I had heard but didn’t know much about. I had no idea who “Keely” was.

On a whim, I asked my wife if she’d like to go, and as our schedule was open, she said “Sure, why not?”

The answer to “Why not?” is… it might be a waste of time. It was a gamble—we were risking an afternoon, which to me, is no small thing. I would be unhappy if this turned out to be something cheesy and boring.

I did a bit more research and learned that the opening scene featured a man in a coma. That seemed a very strange way to open a tribute act, but it also pushed me over the edge. There was something interesting here, and I decided to find out what it was.

My wife and I arrived at the theater to learn that we were not the typical guests. Being in our mid-40s, we found ourselves quite a bit younger than the rest of the audience, and not by a little bit. Images of Lawrence Welk filled my head as we took our seats. And then the lights dimmed, and a man in a hospital bed was wheeled out onto the stage. It was time for his sponge bath.

For the next 90 minutes, we sat in rapt attention as we laughed and cried at one of the best performances we’d seen in a long time. We learned who Louis Prima and Keely Smith were. We got a glimpse into a type of music that’s rarely performed anymore, and we came away enriched. Seeing this production made us more than we were going in.

I’ll not say much about the show because it’s my hope that you’ll see it too, but one of my favorite moments was this: an expletive was uttered by one of the characters, and some of the audience gasped. Yes, a swear word was shocking enough to cause an audible reaction in the audience. When was the last time that happened? Fascinating.

At any rate, I encourage all people to go to concerts by bands they’ve never heard of, go to movies without seeing the trailers, and buy books without reading the reviews. As a side note, Elizabeth’s Books in Sydney, Australia offers something called “Blind date with a book.” The book is wrapped in paper and string, and only a brief description is offered. You buy the book not knowing what it is. Like a blind date, you don’t know what you’re going to get, but it could be something wonderful. Or not.

And if it’s not, you’re still more than you were before. Seeing a bad act or reading a bad book may not be immediately pleasurable, but it will still open you up for new experiences and connections down the line.

So take a chance from time to time. And if you happen to see Louis and Keely: Live at the Sahara, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

So much more than expected

So much more than expected

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