Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Drink! Drink! Drink drink drink!!!"

       Jeff Woodman, a fine actor who has read such best-selling works as "Life of Pi" and "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" for, recorded my 2008 memoir, "Drunkard" in New York City last week.  
     Beforehand, he phoned to go over some details. I was impressed with how conscientious he was about getting the pronunciations right. We talked for a long time about the book, and when I told him how I always felt bad that the original ending was shaved off, over my objections, by my cleaver-wielding editor—the editor found the ending funny, and funny is somehow bad in a recovery memoir, I guess because it undermines the expected air of penance—Jeff graciously allowed me to return the original ending to the audio version, plus add a few other jokes that got chopped, even though it made more work for him. I was glad to get that ending back on, and I think adds an attractive bonus to the audio edition. So thanks Jeff. releases the audio book of "Drunkard" next month—they work quick—but a faithful reader asked if, before then, I could share the salvaged ending. Happily—it's extra apt right now, because the scene occurred at a 2006 Lyric Opera production, "Fledermaus" which, coincidentally, debuted this week in a production new to the Lyric.  I'll certainly see it with an easier mind now than I did seven years ago. 
      As a set up to this passage,  you should bear in mind you've just read this excruciating crawl through rehab and reached what was at the time a tentative, hard-fought sobriety:

     A year after all this transpired, a friend from Gene & Georgetti invited Edie and me to the Lyric Opera, to join him and his date in fifth row center seats. The opera was Strauss’s “Die Fledermaus,” a good part of which, we discovered as we watched, is a celebration of champagne. The elegantly-attired singers, ladies in ball gowns, men in white tie and tails, gaily twirled around a sumptuous Viennese ballroom, raising glasses and enormous bottles of champagne high in the air while belting out, in German, “Drink! Drink! Drink drink drink drink!!!”
     As they did, Edie tapped me on the arm. I looked at her. She leaned in toward me.
     “You just can’t catch a break, can you?” she whispered, smiling gleefully.

Photo courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago by Dan Rest


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