It all began on the night of March 7th in 2002. “ER” was on, an episode called “Secrets and Lies,” a Breakfast Club inspired episode if you will, and Drs. Luka Kovac and Susan Lewis (Goran Visnjic and Sherry Stringfield) bantered about Samuel Beckett’s play, “Waiting for Godot.”
At one point in the episode, Luka says, “We’re waiting for what? Fulfillment, love, validation, approval? It’s a waste of time. Life is an empty, hollow exercise filled with pain, loss and grief and the only thing we can expect to achieve in our lives is our own inevitable death.” Then Dr. John Carter III (Noah Wyle) goes on to say how depressing that sounds…I never liked Dr. Carter.
But I digress. Ever since then, ever since the eighth grade, I wondered what the hell “Waiting for Godot” was. Mind you, this was 2002, before we all had cellphones, let alone the internet on our cellphones to quickly look anything up. If I really wanted to, I could have inserted my Encyclopedia Britannica on CD-ROM after waiting a good 10 minutes for our Windows XP running PC to boot up, but alas, I did not put forth such efforts after “ER” ended that March 7th evening. Anywho, my curiosity grew and I unintentionally manged to go without reading the play throughout my high school and college careers.
Fast forward to 2013 and low and behold, as I’m running around the city fulfilling Starbucks requests from my director and editors, I find myself below a sign bearing the likes of Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart that loomed from an awning off Cort Theater. There they were, Gandalf and Captain Kirk! Magneto and Professor X, live on Broadway, performing the very play I so often wondered about during my ER-obsessed days!
Months later (yesterday, January 5th, 2014), I awoke before one ought to on a Sunday morning, donned as many layers as possible, and set out to stand in line for “rush” in order to snag those few and coveted $30 tickets. After an hour of attempting to read (my gloved hands barely withstood the windchill!), I lost feeling in my toes and did my best to ignore the close-standing, slightly deranged and annoyingly loquacious older gent behind me who wore a black and red plaid jump suit and who sported a mysterious, dangling growth on his neck…However, my partner in crime that morning came in the nick of time with one hour left to go before the box office opened. I took the opportunity to steal away into a Starbucks to regain feeling and warmth in my feet! There was also a steaming latte involved.
Finally, after the two hour wait in the freezing rain, we purchased the golden tickets!
We ended up with first balcony level boxed seats on stage right! I felt so fancy and that I needed a silk fan and brass binoculars to complete the situation. When the play began, I couldn’t believe how close McKellan and Stewart were. It was if I could lean over the balcony, stretch my arm across the lighting fixtures, and stroke Gandalf’s white, mangy beard and pluck the round spectacles off of Stewart’s face! I had finally arrived – 12 years after “ER” planted this oddly specific cultural reference into my head.
But the play! Oh man, I hate to admit it went a bit over my head. While I think I skimmed the surface of intellectual interpretation, at least in a religious allegorical sense, I choose to stick with what the writers of “ER” taught me so long ago…we’re all just waiting.
From that, from Luka’s semi-depressing conclusion, I glean two things:
1. Always wear wool socks under your boots in the freezing rain and 2. Live! Don’t wait around for Godot.