As excited as I was to be in New York City, I was more than a little disappointed with the tourist trap stuff we were going to visit. One spot was right up the proverbial alley for the larger group of thespians. The other one was first on my list of things to see and do in the city. It was also the only thing on my list to see and do that we were going to see and do.
The thespians in our large group were overly excited to be going to the world famous Radio City Music Hall. While I didn’t really care about visiting the place, I was aware enough to know that it was a pretty big deal. It was an even bigger deal that we were going to get a guided tour of the hall, including going backstage.
Most of the kids and adults in my group were enthralled by the tour. I was not one of them. The lady acting as our tour guide knew her stuff and did a fine job of filling our heads full of information about Radio City and its history. The only problem I and a few others had with her was her East Coast attitude. We tried to get under Ms. Tour Guide’s skin with our dull-witted and Midwestern ways.
It wasn’t so much that we disliked Ms. Tour Guide. She was probably a really nice person away from her job. As a matter of fact, I and a few of the guys found her to be rather attractive. It was difficult to pin down her age. Most of us agreed she appeared to be in her mid-to-late-thirties. She was dressed very professionally in a white blouse, black jacket and skirt, and black heels. She wore her dark hair up in a bun and wore glasses that she often looked over the top of. She also wore red lipstick on her constantly pursed lips. If not for her East Coast attitude, she would have been the librarian of my dreams.
Those of us trying to get to her were failing miserably. We asked her the dumbest questions with slack-jawed looks. Nothing got to her. There was a feeling that some of us wanted to open up and let her have it, but the presence of chaperones from other schools held us back. None of us wanted to give them a bad impression of Oz and the other sponsors.
The person that finally got to Ms. Tour Guide was a girl from another school. Whether she did it on purpose or not was a question we never got an answer to.
We were in the backstage area looking at costumes used in various stage performances when one of the chaperones in our tour group asked Ms. Tour Guide about her favorite performers. Ms. Tour Guide rattled off a short list of names that only the nerdiest of stage fans in our group recognized. The final name was the only one I knew.
“And then, of course,” added our guide, “there is Pavarotti.” She made sure to give the name the imprimatur she obviously felt it garnered.
I looked over at Jeff and rolled my eyes. Before he could respond in kind an auburn haired girl from the middle of the group posed what was most likely the most heinous question Ms. Tour Guide had ever been asked: “Pavarotti who?”
Jeff and I gave each other a wide-eyed “holy shit!” look. Even we knew who Pavarotti was. Looking around we noticed we weren’t the only ones with that expression.
Ms. Tour Guide was beside herself. Looking at the auburn haired girl over the top of her glasses, Ms. Tour Guide was now in full blown, East Coast snob mode. “Luciano Pavarotti?” she fairly spat out. “You don’t know Luciano Pavarotti?”
“No. Is he pretty good?”
Jeff and I and a few other boys in the group started laughing out loud. Ms. Tour Guide cut us off with a withering look. “Young lady…”, she started.
“What about Grace Slick? Is he as good as Grace Slick?” the auburn haired girl continued. I was now completely intrigued by this girl and completely unsure whether she was serious or just messing around. If it was the latter she had my undying respect.
Ms. Tour Guide’s face was turning a brilliant shade of red.
“Grace….Slick,” Ms. Tour Guide muttered. “Who is Grace….Slick?”
“She’s one of the greatest female singers in rock history,” the auburn haired girl answered. “You don’t know Grace Slick?”
My intrigue of this auburn haired girl was quickly turning into deep admiration. I envisioned spending the rest of my life with this spitfire.
Ms. Tour Guide was now visibly shaken. She hesitated a few seconds, possibly to weigh her options. She gently straightened the front of her jacket to regain her composure before tilting her head back and continuing the tour. “This way… children,” she commanded.
I kept my eye on that auburn haired girl during what little remained of the tour. She gave no indication that she had been messing around with the tour guide. Either she was dead serious or she was the coolest girl to ever bestride the planet Earth and therefore too cool for a dope like me.
Once the tours were finished the separate tour groups met up outside Radio City and recollected into their school groups. I spotted the auburn haired girl in a larger-sized group diligently listening to her school sponsor. Oz was no doubt giving us a similar spiel about our options for the rest of our day, but I was too entranced with the girl to pay any attention. I kept looking in her direction hoping we would make eye contact. We didn’t.
The Yorktown group started walking down 50th Street to head back to the Edison. I trailed behind a bit to get one more look at the auburn haired girl. Her school group was already gone.