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The Most Amazing Thing of Life, Brought to You By the BCEFA Flea Market

What’s the opposite of buyer’s remorse? The regretful feeling you get when you don’t buy something that seemed really cool?

I felt a lot of it yesterday at the Broadway Flea Market, the annual event where New York’s theater community cleans its collective closet and sells the contents—heaps of autographed Playbills, window cards, original cast recordings—in Schubert Alley to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Goodness knows, I have plenty of Playbills. There are enough in my apartment to set up my own table at the Flea Market. It was a different kind of item entirely that caught my eye, stole my heart, and threw me into the throes of depression after I left it behind.

It was a painting. Unidentifiable at first because of its somewhat obtuse subject matter—it looked like a bunch of tiny people standing behind a fence—the painting’s true genius emerged only when you started at it for a few minutes. And realized that it was a full-blown artistic rendering—seriously, it was enormous—of the helicopter scene from Miss Saigon. Done in moody monocrhome, the helicoptor emerged from the sky at the top in a swath of foggy light, a vaguely religious implication in the descent. The figures at the bottom scrambled like gnats in the dark. Even the oil-rig-like pylon things looked right.

It was hideous. It was brilliant. It was badass—the kind of thing that I could never imagine owning and the kind of thing I instantly wanted to own.

“Someday when you’re filthy rich and you have a house in Westchester, you can hang that in your theater room,” said The Mick.

You know, my theater room. The place where I will display all the Playbills that are currently in boxes in my closet. Where I will hang my Miss Saigon towel (It exists. I took to Long Beach this summer.) and gaze lovingly at my Franklin Mint Christine Daae doll. Ok, the latter doesn’t actually exist, but if it did, it would go in my theater room. Along with my Fall-of-Saigon oil, clearly.

To whoever owns my painting—someone definitely bought it; I went back after the first pang—bless you. Care for it well. May it help you recall your First Chris. (Mine: Jarrod Emick, age 12. Me, not him.) For you, it’s a reality and it’s hanging on your wall. For me, it’s like theater—fleeting and lovely. And nicer looking in my memory than above my bed.

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