When we moved to the Upper Eastside many years ago, we never imagined how much time we’d spend at the 92nd St Y.
My husband joined the gym and swam several times a week in the Olympic-size pool; I became a Poetry Center member and 2 or 3 Monday nights a month I heard the most acclaimed writers of the day read from their latest works; and we enrolled our toddler in a wonderful children’s art class called Red, Yellow, Blue and Glue.
One year at the Y I learned to use a potter’s wheel; and a few years running I had Sunday morning bagels as I listened to literary biographers at a series called Biography and Brunch; and once I took a memoir-writing class there myself. And not once, but twice at the Y I read James Joyce’s Ulysses.
And for many years I used the Y’s wonderful library, until sadly it closed. A librarian myself, there I bonded with the Y librarian, now a good friend.
And over the years we heard movers and shakers in every field from politics to the arts lecture at the Y. And we enjoyed concerts in musical genres from classical to jazz. And for almost (gulp) 40 years we’ve subscribed to a concert series called Lyrics and Lyricists.
In each of 5 concerts between January and June, L & L pays tribute to an American Song Book or Broadway lyricist, or a musical theatre theme, with songs performed by an always fabulous cast of singers and dancers. And to the delight of us loyal L & L fans, each first act closes with an audience sing-along.
But each fall when our L & L tickets come in the mail, I’m reminded of the time I almost landed myself in the dog house. That year when the subscription renewal request arrived it somehow buried itself in my desk and was forgotten. As January approached I realized we hadn’t gotten our tickets, and called the Y box office in a huff to complain.
Sorry, I was told by the young lady on the phone, we have no record of your renewal.
That’s impossible, I said, we’re long-time subscribers, we sit in the balcony, house right, seats DD1 and DD3. We’ve had those seats for years!
I’m sorry, she said again, but it seems this year you didn’t renew.
I demanded to speak to the box office manager, but he rebuffed me too.
I’m sorry madam, he said, we didn’t receive your renewal and the dates you want are sold out.
It finally dawned on me that with no cancelled check or credit card receipt to show, indeed I may NOT have renewed. It was time for me to bring out the big guns.
Please sir, I cried, you must give us back our seats, we love Lyrics & Lyricists, we’re loyal fans!
Sorry madam, he said, there’s nothing I can do.
But you must, you absolutely must, I wailed, my husband will kill me!
Between more sobs and teary sniffles I begged a bit longer until over the phone line I heard the box office manager heave a big sigh.
Hold on please, he said, I’ll see what I can do.
He was soon back on the phone.
Madam, you’ve worn me down, he laughed, I’ve got your tickets.
And so here we are, back in the balcony, house right, seats DD1 and DD3, getting ready to sing along!
Dana Susan Lehrman