In the late 1980s, I spent weekends at a summer share house in the Berkshires. A group of us drove out of the city on Friday nights and spent the weekends hiking, horseback riding, boating, visiting museums, historic sites, and farm markets. Over the years, we enjoyed outdoor concerts and theater performances. We liked to sit on the porch at the Red Lion Inn to people watch and eat outside at our lakeside picnic table.
On one particular July weekend, my carpool companions included Sam, Mindy and Mindy’s new boyfriend, Ian. Mindy and Ian had only been dating for a few weeks after meeting through a personals ad. At 6 p.m. on Friday, we climbed into Sam’s car for the trip up north. For our musical entertainment, we each brought along a selection of cassette tapes. Sam enjoyed listening to guitar greats like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Muddy Waters. I was in my Depeche Mode and INXS phase. Mindy liked pop music—Madonna and the Police.
About an hour into the drive along Route 22 north past cows grazing in the fields, we gave Ian a chance to choose the music. “Ian, what would you like to listen to?” Sam asked.
“I prefer silence,” said Ian.
Arriving in Great Barrington, Sam drove us to the Price Chopper to stock up on snacks and breakfast food for the weekend. Ian did not agree with any of our grocery choices. Back at the summer house, as we unpacked the groceries and turned on the music, Sam reminded Ian that he had purchased four tickets for an outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” at The Mount in Lenox for Saturday night.
By Saturday morning, more of our house-mates had arrived. We spent a fun hot sunny day down at the beach swimming and boating. After showers back at the house, the four of us left for an early dinner before the performance. Ian hated the restaurant, the food, the waiters and his share of the check.
After driving to The Mount and paying for parking, Sam again told Ian how much his share of the tickets cost. Ian reluctantly pulled out the cash. The Mount was originally the country home of American author Edith Wharton. This stately home on 198 acres is used for house and garden tours, music and theater performances.
We took our seats on the metal folding chairs set up just feet away from where the actors would be performing among the trees. As the play began, my attention was being distracted away from the costumes and old-timey language of this well-known Shakespeare play by whining sounds in my ears and sharp bites on my arms and legs. Mosquitoes!
At intermission, Sam volunteered to go to the concession stand for cold drinks. Scratching my itchy arms, I turned around in my seat to see two older women slathering on lotion. They said it was Avon Skin-So-Soft which helped keep the mosquitoes away. Mindy and I implored these women to share a few drops with us.
Sam returned from the concession stand. “Ten bucks!” he shouted, holding a can of bug spray. We each sprayed ourselves from head to toe. Rumbles of thunder sounded in the distance. A crack of thunder followed by a bolt of lightning flashed in the sky above Prospero’s head. We were sitting on metal chairs in a lightning storm!
The actors continued bravely on. Sam, Mindy and I got up and ran back to the car before the heavens opened up. Ian refused to leave. Another crack of thunder sent half the audience scurrying to the parking lot. Just as Sam unlocked the car door, a teeming rainstorm commenced. Twenty minutes later, a drenched Ian pulled open the back door and slid in. As Sam navigated the car out of the crowded parking lot in the pouring rain, Mindy asked Ian, “So how was the end of the play?”
“It was Shakespeare,” Ian shrugged.
Kim Kovach enjoys live theater, especially indoors. Sign up for the summer session of Creative Writing for Adults starting Tuesday, July 9, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Pound Ridge Library. kimkovachwrites.com.