“There’s so much to see and to do in New Jersey!” The Triangulites belted out the lyric from the Princeton Triangle show. New Jersey! Yeah! Except, we were in North Carolina! And we have sung the damn song thousands of times in the past week.
Too bad this never occurred to any of the forty-odd Princeton students crammed into the Starr Tour bus. Even though we’d been performing the show for seven consecutive, grueling days, the sweaty bunch had decided that they simply hadn’t had enough “Triangle”, and proceeded to ‘sing’ songs from the show in a veritable cornucopia of keys for a large portion of the 14-hour, overnight bus ride back to Princeton. One could feel the resentment bubbling up as the kids loudly shouted the notes over each other, trying to prove that they had the chops to be – and indeed, should have been cast as – the lead. Most were horribly wrong. This night marked the end of the Triangle Tour. It had been a very long week.
On the Bus
I clutched my pillow and climbed the rubber stairs after dumping my suitcase into the bowels of the bus. Our driver, Gary, a Vietnam Vet, granted me a stern nod accompanied by a grunt after I had smiled in his direction. As I walked down the aisle, a girl grasped my arm and breathed garlic into my ear. “Don’t worry about him! He’s a jerk. He’s been driving this bus for years and has never even seen a triangle show!” She rolled her eyes, giggling somewhat wildly. I was not worried – about Gary. I tried to move a way, as I had a feeling that she was trying to lay the groundwork for a triangle scarf.
Triangle scarves: black Scarves awarded to any member of the Princeton Triangle Club who inserts their tongue into the mouth of another member of said club. Embroidered on the scarf is the official Princeton Triangle Club Insignia. It is a triangle.
I started to walk on, but she grabbed my shoulder. “Hey”, she said “wanna be my grog buddy today?”
Grog: The act of sleeping of the bus in a mildly comfortable position.
Grog Buddy: The person with whom you attempt to find said mildly comfortable position. Together, you can strive to earn a triangle scarf.
“Oh man…I wish I really could but I– already promised I would sit with—” Oh fuck. I glanced around frantically. “Him!” I leapt into an empty seat next to one of the actors.
Her face fell. She sat down with one of her girlfriends a mere row in front of us. Fuck…she’s probably going to try switch seats with this guy at some point.
The actor I sat down next to turned to me, “Dude! We’re on a bus…” The subject of the Triangle show, A Turnpike Runs Through It, focuses on a group of tourists and tour guides who travel through New Jersey on a bus, seeing the sights along the way. “I’m really excited…There’s so much to see an to do in…FLORIDA!” Beat. “Because that’s where we’re going!” He slapped hands with ‘garlic breath,’ and she giggled at the (painfully) clever play on the main lyric from the show.
“Hel-lo Triangle,” the tour manager brayed over the bus loudspeaker. “We are going to start right now so everybody get comfortable – I hope you chose your grog buddy well.” She waited for a laugh that did not come. “…okay well let’s get going…TO ROANOKE!” I turned to my seatmate, “isn’t that the lost colony?” “Yeah man! Wouldn’t it be awesome if we showed up and it was like…totally deserted again?! Fucking hilarious!” More hand slapping. I turned on my iPod and slept for the rest of the drive.
“Come on man! Let’s go to room 114!” My roommate bleated at me as I jumped onto the bed.
“They are having a part-ay! It’s gonna be insane!”
One of the rooms had apparently organized an ‘iceberg party’ where no one was allowed to touch the floor – because it was the ocean.
“TRIANGLE TRUTH OR DARE!” One of the hosts shouted as I walked through the door. Wait…what? Yes. Triangle Truth or Dare. I glanced at the hot freshmen girls huddled by the door. Why not?
My gaze shifted to the host as he selected his first victim, a seemingly meek guy sitting at the edge of the bed.
“I dare you to make out with…him!” Smiling he pointed to me.
“No way man!” The daree giggled. “That’s fucking gross! No way!” He flicked his wrist at me as he inched closer. Shouts from the icebergs seemed to persuade him rather quickly.
“Alright fine…but JUST because it’s truth or dare.”
He’s right, I thought. I mean, I know I’d never turned down a dare before. But wait. I haven’t played since eight grade. Also, back then it was an excuse to make out with girls. So basically the same thing, but without the homoerotic subtext.
“No.” I turned and walked out, down the hall, and into my bed.
In the Homes of Princeton Alumni
Exhausted, I walked to the outside of the theater with my housemates for the night. We waited and watched as most of the groups got picked up by the Princeton alums gracious (or idiotic) enough to allow several Triangle members to stay in their home for the evening.
A Range Rover pulled up next to the curb and a tall 40-something woman sporting a delicious Starbucks Grande Java Chip Frappuccino got out of the driver’s seat walked toward the remainder of the group. Up close, the plastic surgery was obvious: her eyebrows didn’t move.
“Oh my goodness. You were all just so wonderful!” She ran over to me, eyes wide “…Oh you were so funny! I loved that bit you did as the inventor guy in that scene!”
“Thank you. But um…actually SHE played that part…” I pointed toward the actress who had played the role. The Swede smiled awkwardly. (Though she still looked surprised.)
For the first time in several days I was grateful to hear the sound of our tour manager’s voice. “Mrs. Goldenfarb?”
Wait, Goldenfarb? “Yes that’s me!” She smiled cheerfully as the tour manager informed her that me and my roommates would be staying the night at her home.
We loaded our suitcases into the trunk, piled into the car, and Mrs. G pulled away from the curb.
“Oh you were all just so wonderful! I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be on stage like that anymore. I don’t know if you know this…I was once Miss Teen Florida! Can you believe it? Well anyway I don’t know how I did it. If I had to go up on stage again like that…I would just…I—well you were all just wonderful. Barry was saying…oh that’s my husband…he just loved the show. He was going to come to pick you guys up too, but the office called. It’s not important. Oh, I should actually call and see if he’s back yet…just one second.” She picked up her iPhone, which now gets free Wi-Fi in all Starbucks outlets. “Do you mind?”
“Oh no…not at all.” I replied.
“Great. It’ll just be a second.”
She dialed some numbers.
“Fuck!” She screamed and swerved to the side of the highway, nearly spilling her scrumptious Starbucks Frappuccino. “That bastard that fucking bastard! I’m going to kill that mother-fucking piece of shit! No! No…”
We looked at each other with helpless terror as she made ungodly noises and hit the send button again.
“You fucking piece of shit” Creative, I thought. “No…no…don’t you fucking give me that crap again! Oh.. oh really…she was helping you file? In our fucking bedroom! You scum-sucking…”
We waited quietly in the backseat while she, sobbing, put the car in gear and rented two adjacent hotel suites for us to stay in for the night.
The next day would be our last show, and then we would leave for Princeton that night. Tucked beneath the covers of the hotel bed, I sorted my memories from the tour with the concentration of a veteran Starbucks barista arranging the various blends of freshly ground coffee beans for display. When, the following winter, the Triangulites would line up, sweaty and giggling, to board the Starr Tours bus for yet another Intercession tour, I didn’t think that I’d be with them.