The Ultimate Matinee Ladies

Whenever I want to feel young, I go to a Broadway matinee. Whenever I want to feel really young, I go to a Broadway memorial. These tributes — show-biz stars and semi-has-beens show up to pay tribute to someone who’s just died — are free, which means that men and women (especially women) who became eligible for Social Security when Nixon was President line up for hours in advance to get seats. I used to think that Fairway, a vast food store on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, was the epicenter of New York pushiness. I was wrong: you haven’t been elbowed by a 80-year-old dame until you’ve been elbowed by the type of grandma who, over the past few months, turned up in droves to listen to the send-offs for the recently departed Broadway beloveds Kitty Carlisle Hart and Betty Comden. For an amusing glimpse into the subculture of Broadway memorials, read this story from the Wall Street Journal. My favorite character is one Francine Greene, 78 years old and the widow of a dentist, who, when asked why she is so sparse with her applause, replied: “It takes a lot to make me clap.”

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