What possessed me last Sunday - after only finding out the Thursday before that she would be in town - that it was necessary for me to go to Sydney and see Lily Tomlin is beyond me. Well, actually it's not. I love her, and to quote Emma Thompson's character in "Love Actually" when she says that about Joni Mitchell; true love lasts a lifetime.
My Dad introduced me to Lily Tomlin through a videotape he had of the "25th Anniversary of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In". I've talked about it before. It really was one of my favourite things. I mean, really.
Then Carly and I discovered the movie "The Incredible Shrinking Woman". It was one among quite a few movies we watched over and over again like "Freaky Friday", "Bedknobs and Broomsticks", "The Phantom Tollbooth" and "To Be Or Not To Be". These were all movies that equally entertained me and freaked me out. You'd never think to be scared of falling into an insinkerator but because of "The Incredible Shrinking Woman" I was. I had nightmares for YEARS.
Then, of course, there is "9 to 5". I never understood it when I was younger. I just loved it when Lily Tomlin turned into Snow White and all those cute little cartoon animals were following her around, especially the rabbit knitting. BOY do I get it now. It's in the Top Ten of Erin's Favourite Movies of All Time.
Now - how cool is this - she works for the President of the United States of America; Jed Bartlet... on one of the best shows EVER; "West Wing". (I've just finished Season 4 and I'm all heartbroken with Toby and Congresswoman Wyatt and the house and the babies... oh, Toby.)
I digress. It was an impulsive decision based on years and years of admiration and laughter. Plus I've never been to Sydney before (although my parents SWEAR they took us across the harbour to Taronga Zoo when we were little). So. I spent two nights and a day in Sydney last week.
Here are some highlights (or just a long list of thoughts and frivolous rememberings - my brain retains highly trivial moments):
- Wondering whether the plane was planning to land ON the houses as it descended into Sydney.
- Booking into the hotel next to a lady wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses who was adamant "no one is to know I'm here... can you make sure I don't get any calls? If anyone rings up and asks if I'm here you tell them nothing." At which point she looked over at me and said; "Goddamn stalking ex-husband... HAHAHA!" (Seriously, did you know they can do that? They set you up as a 'silent check-in' and the computer does something special that I didn't overhear. I sooo wanted to ask for one too. I wanted to be mysterious and wear a baseball cap.)
- Getting into bed and cursing the member of the hotel staff who made it so shoddily before remembering I had messed it up by jumping on it just a little while before (because that's what you do on hotel beds).
- Realising that the public transport was a cinch to work out and planning my ride to coincide with peak hour workers, most of them staring into space like zombies so as not to engage each other, some dozing off in their seats, some grumpy. I was obnoxiously smiley because: a) I just am sometimes, b) I wasn't going to work and c) I'd just discovered:
- SYDNEY HAS DOUBLE DECKER TRAINS!! How awesome.
- Feeling a rush of excitement on exiting the train station at Circular Quay and catching a glimpse of the Harbour Bridge. Then turning a corner a seeing the Opera House. Who knew? I'm a tourist!
- Overhearing someone introduce themselves: "Hi! I'm Fiona - the new Eve." Void of context I found it very amusing.
- Getting stuck in the rain as I walked down Macquarie Street and taking refuge in the entrance of a building with a sweet old lady.
SHE: "It's been doing this at the same time every day this week."
ME: "We could use some in Brisbane."
SHE: "Oh, I'm going to visit my son in Brisbane tomorrow!"
ME: "Cool! I'm only here for today."
SHE: "Oh, really? Why?"
ME: "To see Lily Tomlin tonight."
SHE: "Oh, she's great! I saw her on Denton." (She said "oh" a lot in my memory.)
We talked about the rain some more until it slowed to a drizzle and then went our separate ways.
- Gertrude & Alice's Cafe Bookstore in Bondi. Thank you Sarah, I loved it. Books. Coffee. Spinach, pea and sage risotto (so much of it that I took it back in a doggy bag and therefore didn't get to EAT at Betty's Soup Kitchen). Pictures of and quotes by Anais Nin, Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas on the walls. MORE books. A better Bent Books. Yes, I know. Comparisons are odious.
- A busker singing "Scarborough Fair" in the tunnel of Martin Place Station. There was something haunting and beautiful about it. I really thought I hated that song.
- Checking a bus timetable at a bus stop in Bondi and a cleaner poking his head around the glass and saying:
HE: "Have you stopped to help me?"
ME: "What do you need help with?"
PAUSE WITH MUTUAL BLANK STARES.
HE: "I was kidding, most people just give me the forks!"
ME: "OH! Okay..." chuckled and gave him the forks and went back to the timetable as he gave me the forks and ducked back behind the bus stop. I started walking away and he poked his head back around; "You just proved that there are still some nice people out there." Awww... I'm nice.
- Descending in the slow, slow hotel elevator with a slightly dishevelled, grey haired lady elegantly dressed in a black dress, black purse in hand with a long red scarf around her neck:
ME: "This elevator is quite slow don't you think?" (I know! I'm SO good at conversation!)
SHE: "The lift IIIIS quuuite slow. Slow is good sometimes though."
ME: NOD. GRIN. LOOK AT CEILING. WE EXIT THE LIFT.
SHE: "Have a wonderful evening."
ME: "oh, thanks. You too!"
Halfway to the Mascot train station I realise I've forgotten my watch and turn back. As I approach the lift to go back to my room so does the same lady replete with glass of white wine. We enter the lift.
SHE: "Two jobs done quickly I see."
ME: "Ha, ha, actually I forgot my watch. They wouldn't let you take a bottle to your room?"
SHE: (turns to face me) "Well... I didn't WANT a bottle. They don't HAVE half bottles and (with a shrug of her shoulders) it appears goooone are the days of the mini bar." (I swear if her hands weren't occupied - one by a purse and the other by a glass of wine - her arms would have been grandly gesturing during that sentence.)
ME: GRIN. NOD. "Ahhh, mm hmm." WE EXIT THE LIFT.
SHE: "Eeeevening once again."
- The man on the train with massive reflective aviator sunglasses and jeans and leather jacket with slicked black hair. He sat down next to me and took a book from his pocket. It was a book of poetry. He sat reading for a while and then stood up and put the book back in his pocket and turned to the corner near the door. He started pulling at his jeans and then I realised, he was rolling them up at the waist and giving himself quite the wedgie. No doubt because he felt it would enhance his package. It certainly appeared he was seasoned at it. As the train pulled into a station he turned and faced me - I had to look away quickly so he didn't know I was staring incredulous at his newly arranged buttocks - and asked "lady, does this train stop at Redfern?" still adjusting himself. "Uh, I have no idea, sorry." "Oh, right-o" he said and hopped off the train.
- The State Theatre. How fancy is it?! It's like some kind of, well, really old ornately decorated theatre. A little overwhelming. Pretty gorgeous but at the same time a teensy bit grotesque. Maybe the word is gawdy. I was still in awe of it though. I'm a simple girl.
- The ladies who sat next to me in the theatre.
LADY NO 1: "Hi there! I'll apologise upfront if I cough too much during the performance, I'm just getting over a cold and my throat's all scratchy!"
LADY NO 2: "Me too, but we came armed!" This is where they both produced a pack of Throaties each like they were in a parody of a Mentos commercial.
ME: "Hehe, well, hopefully you'll be more laughing than coughing!"
LADY NO 1 & 2: "HAHAHAHAHAHA!"
LADY NO 2: "Oh, no doubt!"
The funny thing? They barely raised a titter during the whole performance by LILY TOMLIN but I made them laugh out loud with a lame joke!?!
- Lily Tomlin. She had just that day bottle fed a baby wombat and decided we should develop a mini wombat for domestic purposes so she could have one as a pet. She wondered whether the free trade agreement with America would mean she could trade George W. Bush for a bale of wool. The unfortunate outcome being we get George W. Bush. The punchline? Well, we kind of already have one just like him. She did some CLASSIC Lily material that I NEVER imagined I would EVER see her perform in person. Characters like Ernestine the telephone operator and little Edith Ann. She did one of my favourite Edith Ann lines; "Oh, I am not bossy... my ideas is just better!" and two others I love "I worry about being a success in a mediocre world" and "why is it when you talk to God you're praying but when God talks to you you're schizophrenic?" Her vitality was infectious. The fact that she came back on stage and did about 20 minutes of Q & A was way beyond cool.
I'm holding back the effusion.
(The choice of song as title to this post? It's just a stunner of a song. If you don't like Stevie, well, there is a possibility you don't like anything, but if you don't like Stevie I'll try not to judge you for it. And besides, love really is in need of love today.)