The King of Couth

          Barbara and I are attempting to become “couth.”  Well, to be truthful, Barbara has always been “couth.” She is attempting to increase my level of “couthness” to at least “acceptable to be seen with in public most of the time.” It’s been an uphill battle. (Note to my “uncouth” friends (i.e. ALL of my friends): ‘couth” is not a social disease. It is an adjective meaning cultured, refined, and well mannered.

          Lately, we have been attending a number of plays and musicals in the Playhouse Square District of Cleveland, which, believe it or not, is the largest performing arts center in the United States outside of New York. I don’t know exactly what that means but it popped up during my exhaustive research into Playhouse Square. (Yes, I did a search on Bing.)

          Apparently, a lot of very couth people hang out in the Playhouse Square District and to show how couth they are, they give away their money to the people who run the distinct. (They used to do that in Chicago during the days of Al Capone, too.) You can even tell who the couthest of these people are because when you enter the theater to attend a play or musical, the people who take your tickets hand you a little booklet, called a “Playbill” which contains information about the show.

         It also has a list of people who gave the most money to Playhouse Square. I checked out the list but didn’t find the names of any of my friends anywhere in the booklet. What could possibly be more couth than to see your name and the amount of money you have given in a Playbill?

          I believe the term “Playbill is a combination of the word “Play” for the show you are about to see and “Dollar bill” for all the money that these people of couth give to Playhouse Square. Either that, or it is someone giving former President Clinton permission to have a good time.

            Well, last night we went to see the latest revival of “The King and I.” I was actually alive during its original Broadway run. Of course, I was almost alive during the original run of  ”Our American Cousin,” the play Lincoln was watching when he was shot. Somehow, in all of these sixty plus years, I had never seen either the play or the movie version of “The King and I.”

          Before the play began, Barbara and I found our way to the “super secret” special room for those people who have a lot of couth … and loge seats. I’m not sure about the couth, but we had loge seats so they had to let us enter. In this room the theater provides drinks, M&Ms, pretzels, Chex mix and Raisinettes, (Nothing says “couth” like Rasinettes!)

            You are allowed to take your drinks and snacks into the theater so, of course I stuffed my pockets and my empty cup from my drink with as much of the snacks as I possibly could and walked, with as much couth as I could muster, into the theater for the opening curtain. I did a repeat performance at intermission. “Couth” personified.

            As I said, I had never seen “The King and I” before and, while I had a little bit of an idea as to what the show was about, I was not aware that in the end … 65 YEARS LATE SPOILER ALERT … The King dies from what I can only conclude was a broken heart resulting from his being emotionally messed with by Anna, the “I” in the King and I.

            So, the King was basically driven to a death resulting from mental anguish caused by being rejected by the woman he loved. She drove him crazy.

            Let me back up about an hour and a half. (The show was about three hours long.) At the end of Intermission, and after I re-stuffed my pockets and glass with more M&Ms, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, Barbara and I returned to our seats. When we sat down we both realized that our view had changed. A tall man, who had been sitting a few seats to the right in the row in front of us, had moved directly in front of Barbara and me and was blocking our view.

            Now, I don’t know this man. I have never seen him before in my life. I do not have any insight into his thinking or what his mother may have done during his childhood to possibly cause him to have psychological issues or to be a bed wetter.

            Barbara’s question to me? “Why did he do that?”

            And she was seriously expecting an answer from me.

            This is not unlike those occasions when she asks me if I want something to eat or a bite of what she is having where I answer in the negative and she wants to know “Why not?” Why do I NOT want something to eat?

            Or one of my favorites, when Barbara likes a TV show that may be on Thursday night and it is only Wednesday, “Why isn’t [the show] on?”

            It kind of makes me understand why “The King and I” ended the way it does.

            But, let me tell you and absolutely true story about how a gentleman named Lawrence Ripple of Kansas City, Kansas handled the situation. Mr. Ripple entered a bank and handed the bank teller a note demanding that she give him money and advising the teller that he had a gun. The teller gave Larry about $3,000.00. Ripple then walked to the bank’s lobby, sat down in a chair and called a bank guard over, telling the guard “I am the guy you are looking for.” He was immediately arrested and agreed to plead guilty to bank robbery with a potential sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

            “Why?” you might ask, would Lawrence Ripple of Kansas City, Kansas do such a thing? Well, if you had been paying attention while reading this article, you should be able to guess. As he told the Court, he did it to escape from his wife with whom he had had an argument earlier in the day.

            I can just hear The King now saying, “You mean I had an option?”