Chapter 10. ‘Yentl’ Opening Day

10.

Yentl’: Opening Day at the Ziegfeld Theatre, New York City

I first met Jeffrey Rindler in February 1980.  We were both students of the dramatic arts studying at HB Studios on Bank Street.  I was not enjoying myself.  I didn’t go there to learn, I went there to meet people in show business.  I didn’t like anybody there.  It seemed as if everyone was so full of himself or herself and not very helpful.  They were so protective of who took their headshots and where they were auditioning, nobody seemed to care that there were no classes in how to step out of a limo.  This was not for me.

I was sitting in the lounge reading some soap opera magazine.  Now, don’t get the wrong idea – I don’t do word puzzles on the subway or anything like that but at that time (“at that time” – remind me to talk to you about that statement) I was watching Judith Light on ‘One Life to Live’ and she was on the cover…whatever.  Jeffrey Rindler spots this and I think I tried to hide it.  He asks if he can look at the magazine.  I trust no one.  I handed it to him, thinking he was going to laugh at me.  He started talking about ‘One Live to Live’ and how much he loved it and blah blah blah.  I think he said, “Who else do you like?’” and I whispered, “  “ and he said, “Who?” and I said a little louder, “Barbra Streisand.”  He responded that he liked her to and we had a lovely conversation about Barbra and this and that and the other and do you have this record, did you see that movie, etc.  I told him my favorite song was ‘How Does the Wine Taste?’ – we dashed off to our respective classes and that, I thought Miss Brice, was that.

The next day or a few days later I bumped into him again.  And I mean bumped.  As I was attempting to open the door to get into HB Studios, Jeffrey Rindler came storming through.  Now, I have to tell you something about myself: Just because I talk to a person on one day does not mean I’ll ever talk to them again.  People may think this is being rude but I happen to think I am being very courteous.  Who am I to assume that someone wants to talk to me two days in a row?  Also, I’m very shy and figure if we had a great time once why try for twice and be disappointed.  So I didn’t say anything to this kid…maybe I said excuse me.

“Kid! Come take a walk with me.  I just realized I don’t have my phonebook and I must have left it in a booth.”

I was very impressed that this kid, this teenager, had a phonebook (turns out his family was in office supplies).  But who wanted to walk?  I’d just walked from Seventh Avenue and wanted to sit upstairs and get in my circles before class.

“Well…”

“Come on, I’m in a hurry.  We can talk about ‘One Life’.”

We walked to the phone booth and he didn’t shut up the entire way.  All his numbers were in that book, he couldn’t believe he didn’t have it, what was he going to do if he didn’t find it, he was just listening to the ‘Wet’ album, he was trying to find a scene to do.  On and on and on.  How come I didn’t say hello?  Didn’t I remember him?

I guess I don’t trust people, that’s why I don’t talk to them twice.  I learned at a very young age never to base today’s behavior on yesterday’s.  One of my favorite customers in the grocery store once started screaming at me because the price of a quart of milk went up one penny.  As she threw the penny at me she said, “If your mother didn’t go to the beauty parlor so much, your father wouldn’t have to keep raising the prices!”  This, from someone I had known all my life.  For a million dollars I would never have predicted this from this lady.  I know why Barbra Streisand doesn’t want to perform live.  It is just not worth it.

Jeffrey had a better attitude about making new friends than I did.  He hammered away and pretty soon we were very close.  We called each other “kid” as homage to ‘Funny Lady’.  He was the first friend whose house (apartment) I had dinner in that I hadn’t met in high school.  Now, that might seem like nothing, but it’s a turning point in my life I’ll always remember.

I thought we were so old and mature and ready to get on with our lives.  And we were.  But when I think about how far we’ve come…but nothing beats those dinners we used to have.  Forty-nine cents for a box of pasta, eighty-nine cents for the sauce and sixty-nine cents for the loaf of bread.  One day I will have to tell you about the night when I was still living at home and working nights that Jeffrey called the house because I had missed dinner.  My mother answered the phone and told him I was sleeping and he responded, “But I bought all the goodies for din-din!”  I wasn’t asleep for long.  I think her question (shouted) was “Who in hell is making you goodies for din-din?”

I always admired people who were able to grow their hair long and Jeffrey had long hair.  I still cannot believe he cut it.

Jeffrey Rindler, opening day of 'Yentl'.  This must have been the last picture on the roll of film used the night before at the '20/20' party; I don't have one picture of us standing on line as the first paying customers, no picture of the marquee, nothing.  I was not thinking historically, rather, I guess, more intent on using up the film so I could drop it off be developed.  Oh well.

Jeffrey Rindler, opening day of ‘Yentl’. This must have been the last picture on the roll of film used the night before at the ’20/20′ party; I don’t have one picture of us standing on line as the first paying customers, no picture of the marquee, nothing. I was not thinking historically, rather, I guess, more intent on using up the film so I could drop it off be developed. Oh well.

For the opening day of ‘Yentl’, Jeffrey and I decided to go together.   I was going to sleep over his house (and I never sleep out) after the “20/20” party and then in the morning we would make our way to the Ziegfeld Theatre.  Jeffrey had moved from this fabulously creepy share he had in an apartment on the top of The Village Vanguard (I think it’s a video rental place now) and was living by this time in another shared flat on Greenwich Street.  Or was it Avenue?  Like the delivery guys I never know which is which.

Our goal was to the first people on line and I think we woke up at 5 a.m.  I know we made our way to the Ziegfeld in the dark.  Did we take a cab?  Did we have the money?  How did we get there?  I think we flew.  Thankfully there were no other fans in front of the theatre when we arrived.  I guess they were waiting for the sun to spit morning.  Why show up at 8 a.m. if there are three people in front of you?  We had to be first on line and we were.

How can two people both be first on line?  Jeffrey is as strong willed as I, and I thought we were going to have a little bit of a problem with this.  Now, if he says it was his idea, fine, but I am sure it was my idea.    I said he could be first standing in line but he would put my twenty-dollar bill under the window to purchase the tickets.  He went for this.  This was good enough for me.  In fact I had never had a prouder moment as when my money went into that cash register.  After all of Barbra Streisand’s struggles, all her pleading, all her sleepless nights of worry to get ‘Yentl’ made, here I was in New York, a hotel telephone operator, putting my money into the cash register as the very first dollar ‘Yentl’ earned.

At the big moment, Jeffrey and I were holding on to each other like the final two contestants at Miss America.  Jeffrey said in a loud clear voice, “Two adults for ‘Yentl’ please.” Then I said, “Now boarding at track 14 – and that will be a change of twenty”. The line, which was now considerably long behind us, burst into applause.  I was reminded of the stories my father and his Aunt Kate used to tell me about walking over the George Washington Bridge on opening day.  When our tickets popped out of the dispenser we almost lost it.  This is what it is all about it: going to the movies to see the people you love.  I loved this even more than the premiere, which was a bit out of my realm.  Who needs Marlo Thomas?  I much preferred waiting on line in the cold talking to Barbra fans and buying my popcorn and settling in.  We ran upstairs, taking the escalator two steps at a time.

Naturally, the theatre was empty.  I reminded Jeffrey how that summer we had sat through ‘Moonraker’ twice in order to see the trailer for ‘Yentl’.  I looked around and thought how different it all looked only two days ago the night ‘Yentl’ premiered.  I thought of Molly Picon coming up the aisle crying and I had to help her find a tissue.  I looked over at the spot where Michael had found Barbra’s uncle and introduced me to him and his wife, who was also crying, as she held onto my arm saying, “This was such a beautiful tribute.  This was so beautiful.”

Fine.  That was a premiere.  But today we were at the movies.

 

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