Hi-Ho, The Glamorous Life: Don’t Call Me, Maybe

Marissa Skudlarek continues her madcap intellectual adventures around the San Francisco theater scene, and this week takes on that love-hate relationship with theater subscription that so many of us have in common.

I am a fickle, flirtatious woman. Like so many members of my generation, the so-called Millennials, I am commitment-phobic, perhaps to the point of caprice. I run around town, setting my schedule at the last minute, always in the throes of some new fling or obsession, always eager to see what’s out there, unwilling to settle for something less than optimal.

If you’re a more old-fashioned type, you’re getting fed up with my lack of faithfulness and the way I chafe when asked to follow a well-ordered schedule. Moreover, you’re wondering if maybe you’re doing something wrong, and asking how you can ever conquer my fickle heart.

Well, let me tell you something: it’s not you, it’s me. Actually, scratch that – it might have something to do with you, in that I’m just not that tempted by what you have to offer me anymore. But it also might be, as I said, my own disinclination to make long-term commitments. Theater companies of the Bay Area, unless I love you, I mean really love you, I’m not going to buy a subscription package.

(What? You thought this column was about my dating life? That’s a different story.)

I’ll tell you something, though, theater companies: when you lose me, you take it hard and you don’t give up easily. Especially if I pledged you my loyalty and devotion last year, but decided not to re-up on my subscription for next season. My goodness, the persistence you have in trying to win me back! But I’m too much of a coward to tell you flat-out, “I’m not going to subscribe this year.” Especially because I don’t want to burn bridges with you – what if, next year, you program a really sexy season of shows and I’m crazy about you again?

So I ignore your phone calls, Theater Company I Used to Subscribe To. I’ve got your number programmed into my phone and everything, just so that when it rings, I can see that it’s you, and not pick up. Call me a bitch if you like; I’ve heard worse from the homeless guy on the corner.

Some of you are more persistent and demanding than others, almost to the point of arrogance. All right, I can understand that if I subscribed to you last year, you want to see if I’m willing to make the same commitment again. But what about the theater company that I saw one show at, two years ago, and have been fielding calls from ever since? (It’s not even that I disliked the show, but the company in question is a bit out-of-the-way for me and I can’t commit to going there multiple times a year.) Or what about the theater company in Portland? I moved away four years ago, but they still call me occasionally to remind me of the good times we had together!

And, oddly, some of the biggest, most powerful folks in town are the most desperate for my money, my loyalty, my love. San Francisco Opera is bombarding me with emails trying to convince me to spend $325 on a gala opening-night ticket; ACT just sent me an email asking me to spend $500 to be on the host committee of their MFA benefit luncheon. Do I look like a lady who lunches? (My well-documented love of Sondheim notwithstanding.) They ought to know that I am young and certainly not wealthy, but they demand from me more than I can possibly give!

Yes, I do get irritated by some of you theater companies, with your puppy-dog faithfulness, your persistent phone calls, the outrageous commitments you believe I will make if only you badger me frequently enough. But generally speaking, I bear you no ill will. We’re in the same business, you and I, so I know how hard it is. I know that on the other end of the line is an overworked, underpaid young box-office staffer, which is why I feel it is more merciful to ignore the phone call than to break his heart by telling him “No, thank you.” But I’m a busy girl, and if I said yes to every suitor that’s after me, I’d be giving up too much of my time and money. I have to be discriminating.

Ideally, Theater Company, you’d realize that I still like you a lot – I’m just not on board with everything you have to offer. I might still spend a few evenings with you in the coming year, but I’m not ready to make a wholehearted commitment to you. A subscriber is, I suppose, a “friend with benefits.”  But, you know, I’m not ready for that. Can’t we be just friends?

Marissa Skudlarek is a playwright and arts writer. If you want to subscribe to her, she’s on Twitter @MarissaSkud.


5 comments on “Hi-Ho, The Glamorous Life: Don’t Call Me, Maybe

  1. One of those Telemarketers says:

    Your article is very cute, but as someone who has paid my bills by calling people to subscribe to theatre, I simply must point out one major error you’re making. Any good telemarketer, makes somewhere 80-100 calls a day. In that span, over a dozen people (maybe more) will tell us no. Some will be jerks, some will spend 10 minutes telling us great we are but they just cant do it. But the beauty of it, is they said no. And where you are worng is that no bodys feelings are hurt. In fact we are delighted you said no, because now we never have to call you again. While you are always a valued patron, you are also one patron of many. Some come, Some go. Some come back. Some Don’t. But as someone who has called one number a dozen times over the course of three months, I beg you, just pick up and say no. Youre not hurting anyones feelings, no ones. And when you say no and we “Oh no, thats terrible!” we’re half-faking. Say no, do it. We work 4 hours a day, and I promise you after those 4 hours we wont even remember your name. Until of course, you buy another ticket, but thats why there are “Do Not Call” lists. But till then…just say no. It’ll be fine, I promise.

  2. Marissa S. says:

    Thanks for commenting! It’s great to hear the telemarketer’s perspective on all this. Yes, I know I’m a coward and that honesty is the best policy… I’ll try to be better about picking up my phone when I see that it’s you (or one of your brethren) calling!

    • One of those Telemarketers says:

      Here’s a hint, any good telemarketer goes by the “3 no’s rule” meaning the first 2 no’s are just a request for more info, and the they actually mean it the 3rd time. So to use your dating metaphor, If you prefer the company of other theatres, just say so dont skirt the issue or make a big flowery speech, in fact if you are polite and to the point That person whos feelings you are trying to spare will appriciate you more than you know.

      • Marissa says:

        Thanks again for the inside scoop. I’d still prefer a “one no” rule (just as, in dating, men should know that “no means no”), but can handle “3 nos” for theater telemarketers.

  3. One of those Telemarketers says:

    LOL! One, is trying to date you, one just wants your credit card #…the same, but different

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