talking to strangers

I’m still in Stratford, seeing one more play this afternoon before I take the Festival bus back to Toronto. I stayed for three nights and four plays because going in and out (by the bus) in one day, sandwiching a play, is too hard on me now. I’m wiped out the next day. It has been a rest and a revelation—well, not a total revelation. I am always interested in the people I meet: fellow -travellers or -theatregoers or -neighbours.

I would much rather wait for the departure than chafe at being late, so I was early for the bus to Stratford. While I waited I talked to a young woman (at my age everyone is young, but I guess she was in her mid-forties) who got up in Niagara Falls that morning to take the bus in to Toronto to catch the Festival bus to Stratford, doing this several times each summer. She was very knowledgeable about the plays she has seen over the years and we both marvelled at the miracle of the bus that enabled people without a car, like me and like her, to see the plays. In another age, I guess you would call us groundlings.

Take my seat-mate on the bus, not a genuine groundling. I usually sleep on buses but this man disapproved of me vocally when he saw me take a swig from what he thought was a bottle of gin. (Actually it was a Glen Livet bottle.) I explained that I’ve had several fancy, expensive water bottles that leaked and I don’t like having a puddle of water in my bag and I don’t like plastic disposable water bottles because they pollute the planet. So I use a small liquor bottle with a tight cork. And so the conversation began.

He’s from Cleveland; his wife was in the seat in front of us. (I got mine first.) They drove to Toronto but took the bus to Stratford, meeting friends there, staying for a few plays. He hadn’t been to Toronto for years and was impressed with its growth, but he comes to Stratford every year. I try not to discuss politics with Americans but he bought it up, showing me his tote bag: a canvas bag imprinted with peaches and big letters reading IMPEACH.

The next day, as arranged, I met a friend at the bus and we went to a matinee together. Her sister from London took her back for a visit, returning her on time to take the return bus to Toronto with me today. After lunch in the Festival Café, I got too hot outside in the sun waiting for the theatre to open so I went into the lobby to cool off and had a good conversation with a woman from Buffalo who has been coming here for years, driving herself to and from. We exchanged favourite dramatic experiences, both of us exhibiting excellent long-term memories for plays and performers. I thanked her for her company and conversation when the doors to the sanctuary were opened.

I’m staying at a B’n’B for the first time in years and I find my hosts to be fascinating people. Not so the new guests whom I met this morning and am very grateful they weren’t here the last two days.

Speaking of B’n’Bs, I have to check out now and give them a chance to make the bed.

Anon, anon.