Some people wanted to hear about my night out at the Fairfield Comedy Club to see Mike Birbiglia. This is what’s known as a folo-up in the world of archaic newspaper lingo. (That’s spelled correctly. I spelled it normally and my old editor emailed me and pointed out that it’s folo. Their need to correct astounds me.)
If you’re not interested in hearing about it, stop reading now. I get it. We’re all a little envious when we hear people are getting out, but don’t hate me. This is the first real night out I’ve had since the pandemic began. I’m usually cooped up at home like everyone else.
And it really wasn’t all that fun, and that had nothing to do with Mike Birbiglia. In fact, it was the comedy night that almost wasn’t.
I was supposed the meet the Curmudgeon in his office parking lot at 6 p.m. We planned to grab cheeseburgers and shakes at a 50’s-style drive-in en route to the 7:30 p.m. show. When I arrived at his office, the Curmudgeon was nowhere in sight. I called his phone twice and he didn’t answer.
After a few minutes, he emerged from the first floor of his office building, looking sweaty and disheveled. “Come on, let’s go,” I said. “What’s taking you so long?”
“It’s a long story,” he said. “But I’ll be out in five minutes and I’ll tell you all about it.”
After getting into the driver’s seat, he said, “I fell while I was running. I tried to swoop around two guys walking with their backs to traffic on a busy road. I went up onto a grassy area, and caught my foot on a vine. Before I knew it, I was on the ground and my face was an inch from the pavement. I’m lucky I didn’t break my shoulder.”
“Did the guys stop and ask you if you were OK? I asked. “No, but there’s no way they didn’t know I fell,” he said. “They had to have heard it.”
Once you know someone isn’t seriously injured in a fall, it’s hard not to laugh. Last month, I fell while walking out of the Dollar Store holding nine red, white and blue balloons. The first thing I did when I hit the ground was look up to see if anyone had seen me or was having a laugh at my expense. Fortunately, I heard no one laughing and I managed to hang onto all of the balloons. But I’m sure it was a comical sight.
I told the Curmudgeon I’d understand if he wanted to skip the show, but was relieved and grateful when he told me that he’d press on. This was the first thing we were doing as a couple in nearly eight months, and I was looking forward to it more than anyone really should.
But I’d have understood if the Curmudgeon wanted to take a pass. Besides being incredibly painful, falling is scary. Besides the Dollar Store tumble, I’ve taken three bad falls while hiking recently, catching my foot on roots concealed by leaves.
The worst occurred while we were out scouting the town’s disc golf course for an upcoming fund-raising tournament. As we approached a raised wooden tee box covered in bright green astroturf, I tripped on a root and pitched forward, slamming onto the platform with my left shoulder, hip and knee.
I hit the ground with such force that I couldn’t move for several minutes. When I finally tried to get up, I needed the Curmudgeon to help me off the ground.
The physical pain was the least of it. I felt my heart racing for almost an hour. The adrenaline was still coursing through my body, and of course, I played out all the various scenarios that could have happened in my head: I could have broken my neck or hit my head.
I need to be more careful, but I come from a long line of women prone to falling. My maternal grandmother once fractured her arm falling in her backyard garden, and my mother has broken her nose and foot in separate tumbles in recent years.
I’ve been fortunate . . . no broken bones yet. But falling is no joke, and you can bet I’m more cautious when I go hiking.
Speaking of falls, Mike almost wiped out about midway through his set. He took a step backward and nearly fell on a makeshift stage under a tent. He said he’ll always remember our show because he almost met his maker during the performance.
I did not laugh uproariously during the show like some people, who almost sounded as if they’d been planted there, but I had a big smile on my face and so did the Curmudgeon throughout the show. I felt good to be outside at night under the moon with other people who wanted to be entertained. It felt good to see people, albeit from a safe distance.
It also felt good to laugh or giggle at Mike’s observations, including: “I wonder what the woman next door thinks when she looks out and sees all these people and tents in her backyard.”
Or my favorite stemming from his role as the husband of Brie Larson’s character in “Trainwreck.” After the movie came out, someone wrote, “In what universe would Mike Birbiglia be married to Brie Larson?” He noted that life’s not fair, pointing out that the film’s director Judd Apatow is married to beautiful actress Leslie Mann.
Though most people were in twos, threes or fours, there was a woman seated nearby by herself. She laughed loudly and clapped her hands at nearly every joke, and I was impressed that she went solo. I’m not sure I’d have the courage to show up to a comedy show alone, but then again, I think I was nearly 60 before I went to the movies by myself.
Maybe she tried to drum up someone to go with her and couldn’t find any takers, or maybe it’s just something she really wanted to do and thought, “The heck with it, I’m going.” Or maybe she just needed a night away from the people she’s been locked down with since last March.
Yes, that’s probably it. Alone time with a funny man. It doesn’t get any better than that.