Traffic was unusually heavy for the time of day on west 57th Street. My wife and I made our way slowly, chatting and people watching as we edged slowly towards the parking garage we always used next to the Ziegfeld Theatre.
There was something big going on that night. A large white, clear paneled tent lined the sidewalk the distance of approximately one hundred feet from 6th Ave to the entrance of the theater on 57th.
Standing at the entrance to the parking garage, a New York City Police officer gestured for me to turn when he saw my indicator flashing, telling him I wanted to go into the garage. I turned left into the entrance to the parking lot, noticing the crowds of people braving the stiff wind, lining the police barricades opposite the theater.
I drove down into the underground garage and trustingly handed our car to the stranger in the garage’s uniform. We took the elevator the two levels up to the street and walked along the entrance drive towards the Ziegfeld.
When we emerged from the garage entrance, we could feel all the eyes of the crowd on the opposite side of the street, fix on us with anticipation and then, realizing we were no one famous, everyone’s gaze returned to the Ziegfeld’s entrance, with a long red carpet flanked by the tent, to our left.
Two men, both the height and build of what I imagined a shaved Sasquatch would look like, flanked the entrance, staring down at my wife and me.
We stood at the curb, not sure where to go. We wanted to go left towards Rockefeller center to see the tree and take our usual annual photos of the decorations in and around the complex. To our left, the enormous white tent covered the entire sidewalk all the way to sixth ave. In front of us were the barricades lined with crowds of people, all huddled in their heavy winter coats, their scarves wrapped tightly and their hats pulled low against the wintry winds.
“You wanna cross buddy?” The police officer that directed me into the garage asked. I nodded yes and wondered if he was going to tell us to turn around and go out through the 58th street entrance instead. Instead, he gestured us towards him.
“Let these people through. They’re good” the officer called to another officer at the barricade, stopping traffic to allow us to cross. The second officer opened the barricades and parted the crowd of people like Mosses parting the Red Sea, everyone looking at us with inquisitive eyes.
We stepped into the crowd; the barricades closed behind us and the crowd resumed their places. We walked a little down the block so that we were now directly opposite the theater entrance and we could now see the banner extended inside the entire length of the tent.
Mission Impossible – Ghost Potocol, the fourth movie in the franchise, was having its premiere at the Ziegfeld and people were waiting in the cold to see the show’s actors arrive.
The crowd parted without reason and my wife and I were able to get to the front and see the cast as they made their way along the red carpet, stopping at intervals to pose and smile despite the blinding flashes from the cameras pointed at them.
As we were about to leave, Tom Cruise entered the tent along with his new wife who seemed to tower over him. His smile was identifiable from across the street and through the distortion of the clear plastic of the tent.
They took photos, spoke to reporters and made their way into the theater. My wife and I left with the rest if the crowd to take our photos, the winter chill enveloping us as the warmth of the crowd left with them.
We only lasted about an hour in the chill when we decided that we should leave before another crowd gathered to see the cast exiting the theater.
The sidewalk, still lined with police barricades, was now devoid of anyone except for the two police officers from earlier.
“Back already buddy?” the original officer asked, one leg bent and propped up behind him on the wall opposite the theater.
“Too cold” my wife replied as the second officer opened up the barrier allowing the first officer to step through and stop traffic so we could cross the street.
As we walked towards the garage entrance, the theater’s entrance right next to it, a black SUV pulled up to the door and one of the shaved Sasquatch men that we passed earlier at the door, quickly walked towards us. His unbuttoned black trench coat billowed open to reveal his massive physique, as he extended his hand with his palm facing up to stop us from crossing the street.
“Yo! They’ve good to go! I told them they can go” the officer yelled to the Sasquatch. The Sasquatch stopped in the middle of the road and looked at the officer with debating eyes that looked as if he was deciding who had the ultimate authority in the situation.
“Let them though” the officer demanded. The Sasquatch dropped his arm and turned his body to allow us to pass his enormous frame. We waved to the officer and and quickly made our way pass the Sasquatch.
We walked between the SUV and the theater entrance, the SUV’s back door open and the theater door held open by the second Sasquatch who looked almost identical to the first. I glanced into the open door of the theater to see Tom Cruise and his unhappy looking wife waiting to leave the theater before the movie’s end.
As we walked into the garage, when we were a short distance from the SUV, I turned around to see Katie Holmes entering the vehicle with Tom Cruise waiting his turn. He turned around to look at us and our eyes met for a moment. He gave me a brief nod and entered the car.
“That’s right Tom. Look at us. This is the couple that for one brief moment in your life, your star power meant nothing when New York’s finest made you wait so that two regular New Yorkers could take back the streets of the City.
©️2021 Tate Basildon. All rights reserved
This post is part of the April Blogging A to Z Challenge.