Introducing Meryl Streep [Piping Hot Nerd: Adventures of a Bagpiper Mastering Manhattan]

I had never been to the Paris Theatre before. This is the classic art deco/art moderne theatre off 5th Avenue near Central Park and the Plaza Hotel where Marlene Dietrich cut the ribbon at the opening in front of the French ambassador.  It looks like the kind of place you would duck into to get out of the rain if you were in a B & W movie and weighed down with bags from nearby Bergdorf’s and having a wild affair with someone who liked subtitles over thread count.

And here I was in this film palace with “Paris” woven repeatedly into its special-order carpeting introducing a special screening of The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep. The house was packed with industry types. Meryl would be there for a Q & A afterwards. RightherewhereI’mstanding! Whatta night. The Paris Theatre, me and Meryl Streep.

Mic in hand and backlit, I stood in front of allthosepeople and thanked them for coming, thanked The Weinstein Company, listed the actors in the film and told everyone to turn off their cell phones under threat of death. I got a laugh from something I said about coal miners (I like to be topical and thematic when I introduce films) and then I sat down to applause, the kind that Meryl would hear tenfold after the credits rolled.

The film started and I had my first of many allaboutme thoughts: I forgot to tell them to stay for the Q & A with Meryl. Then: I forgot to tell them NO PHOTOGRAPHY. Into: Oh my God, I didn’t mention the professor from Columbia who would moderate the screening. Finally dismounting with: I am a FOOL and should never have been born.

Meanwhile Margaret Thatcher had moved on from being a shopkeeper’s daughter and got elected to local office. By the time I was in full crescendo of HOW  COULD YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN TO TELL THEM MERYL STREEP IS GOING TO BE HERE FOR A Q & A AFTERWARDS?!, Margaret Thatcher had become prime minister of Great Britain, survived a bombing in Brighton and crushed those coal miners. And all I got to was I suck at about everything and would be incapable of remembering to tell people to put their seatbacks in the upright position. Meryl can morph into anyone, Margaret can become the longest standing prime minister of the twentieth century, and I can’t even remember to tell people one of the most respected actors in the whole world would be here after the film.

The credits rolled, the lights went up, nary a patron stirred, the Columbia professor stood and introduced herself perfectly and Meryl came on and knocked it out of the park with smarts, charm, wit and insight.  My only failing was some people took photos with their cell phones. No one was bothered at all and I had spent the entire movie stuck on one scene that wasn’t even in the film.

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