Yesterday I met a woman during the intermission of the play (Antony and Cleopatra) at the Tom Patterson Theatre in Stratford. She was eating a Haagen-Dasz ice cream bar, standing a little apart from the crowd. I joined her because it seemed a little cooler where she stood , asking permission to join her, asking about a possible breeze. It was much hotter outside the theatre than in. She nodded and explained immediately that she was enjoying her once-a-summer treat of the ice cream bar, allowable only at a theatre matinee on a hot summer day.
"Me, too,"I said. "I've had mine for the summer."
She went on talking, casually enough, but filling me in on her life. She'd been coming to Stratford since the tent days, when she was in Grade Eight, and I could tell, looking at her, that it was before the school matinees had begun. She paused for me to fill in my information.
I was born and bred in Winnipeg," I said. "I didn't get here for the first time until 1985."
"I've been coming ever since," she said. "I live in Orillia now. I would have been an actor, wanted to be. My parents said I should learn something else, to have something to fall back on. So I became a teacher and I acted for my students - the plays. I still miss that. l've been retired for fifteen years now and every September I miss acting, miss the students. It's good to come here."
She had finished her ice-cream bar and wrapped the stick in a tissue, bending to pick up a bit of chocolate that had fallen on the concrete. The crowd was starting to move back into the theatre.
"It was nice talking to you," she said.