Tim Dowling: an outing to the theater is on the program. To go or not to go? | Life and style


I am sitting at my computer when my wife calls me from a train platform.

“Busy?” she says.

“Very busy,” I said, tapping on the keyboard.

Stiamo lavorando insieme, my computer said, in a woman’s voice.

“What was that?” my wife said.

– Nothing, I say. “Gerunds.”

“Do we want to go to the theater tomorrow?” ” she says. “Someone has spare tickets.”

“Not sure,” I say.

“I know what you mean,” she said. “The room is supposed to be brilliant, however.”

“What time does it start?” I say.

“What does it matter?” she says.

“I am a businessman,” I say.

“Just say yes or no,” she said.

Sto ancora decidendo, says my computer.

“Yeah, okay,” I said.

As the fog of Covid restrictions lifts, I find it increasingly difficult to make logical risk choices. I always wear a mask in stores, but I also recently shook sweaty hands with strangers. I flew in August, but still haven’t walked into a pub. Or a theater.

That night, I stay up late to watch a movie about demons invading an old family home. Paranormal investigators wearing headphones sit in front of screens at the kitchen table, as anguished specters float behind them. It’s supposed to be terrifying, but to me it feels like a lockdown.

Hours later, I have an anxious shopping dream when my wife shakes me to wake me up. It is still dark outside, but she is already dressed.

“What are you doing?” I say.

“Work,” she said. My wife started a new business from scratch during the lockdown, and the hours she keeps are a stark reminder of what it takes to be a businessman.

“What time is it?” I say.

“There are currently 190 people on my website,” she said, handing me my phone. “I need to know why.

“Someone influential probably recommended you,” I said. “It was not me.”

“I know it wasn’t you,” she said. “Can you find out what happened?”

The wifi in the room is spotty, but I’m tracking down the mention that is causing the spike in traffic.

“Thanks,” she said. “You can go back to sleep.”

“No, I can’t,” I say. “I’m a businessman, I have to check my emails. “

“You do that,” she said. I have a new e-mail, from the Italian application to which I am subscribed. He said, “You are on fire! “

Later in the morning, my wife comes to my office. “So,” she said. “We have already had 30 orders today. “

“Oh,” I say. “It’s good, isn’t it?” “

“Yes,” she said. “But under the circumstances, I think I have to go.” By “over there”, she means the garage in the countryside which serves as a center of development.

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– Good idea, I say. “When?”

” , “I will come back tomorrow.”

“But that means …” I say.

“That means you have a spare theater ticket,” she says.

“What?” I say. “I can’t go there alone!” “

“So you take one,” she said, gesturing to the house. “That’s what kids are for.”

“Alright, alright,” I said.

“You could be a little more supportive,” she said.

“I am a great support,” I say. “I accept my fate.

“You are trying to make me feel bad,” she said.

“You must be more ruthless,” I said. “Shit my feelings – this is business.”

“You’re weird,” she said.

“I think you’re trying to fight with me because you don’t want to drive all the way to Wiltshire.”

“There may be an element of it,” she said.

Theater tickets come with a list of requirements: proof of double vaccination or natural immunity, or a negative test. I will also need a mask and a contactless payment card – the theater has stopped taking cash. The evening might turn out to be more of a test of my courage than I had imagined.

I go inside to find the one in the middle watching the kitchen table on a screen, headphones inside, like a ghost hunter waiting for an apparition. He is the only one awake: first come, first punished.

“Do you want to go see this play tonight?” ” I say.

“What is it about?” he said frowning.

– No idea, I say.

“Sure,” he says, but his shining eyes say: sto ancora decidendo.

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