September 14, 1999
Thurston Hall Piano Lounge
The authors of the D.C. Diary are always looking out for the poignant and fun, the moments that make life worth living while everyone else is off triple-checking their resumes and interning at the Department of the Interior. So we knew we struck Diary gold when we ran headlong into a poster advertising the Program Board’s greatest idea since last semester’s big screen showing of porn.
“Story Hour with Anthony!” it proclaimed in scrawling kiddy script. “Featuring many classic Anthony tales, including `The Red Dress Story’ and more!” Stories! Anthony! More! We were sold.
As Anthony recalled to the crowd of more than 30 students who turned out to hear his “classic tales,” no one was more surprised to see the posters, featuring Anthony grinning cherubically in a grainy photo reproduction, than Anthony himself.
His friend Jessica Love, who organized the event for PB, once told him his stories were so great the organization should sponsor an event showcasing them. He never took her seriously.
“Then two weeks ago I get this call from Jessica saying the room’s booked and the publicity was ready to go,” said Anthony in his Revere (pronounced rev-EE-ah), Massachusetts drawl. Luckily for the assembled listeners, “the best storyteller east of the Mississippi,” as Jessica put it, agreed.
And though he said he was nervous, the GW senior put on a hell of a show. In the stuffy piano lounge, festively strewn with chocolate candy courtesy of PB, Anthony eagerly launched into the meandering narratives that have made him famous.
Watching Anthony, whose natural enthusiasm varies on a scale of giddy to exuberant, is like watching popcorn pop. He can’t stay in his seat, and frequently casts it aside for emphasis or integrates it as a prop like a seasoned method actor. More than once, it was a toilet.
Public mishaps (and consequent humiliation) are Anthony’s joie de vivre. He’s had trouble in restaurants, in hotels and don’t even get him started on airport restrooms. About half of his misadventures seem to have taken place while locked in one stall or another.
But Anthony, a member of the last Colonial Cabinet, remains undeterred when his anecdotes run toward the embarrassing. And they usually do. In fact, that is when he truly lights up. Pantomiming his horror as the “Woman in the Red Dress” gyrated seductively in his direction over dinner one night or his disastrous escapades with white zinfandel wine, were the crowd-pleasers that kept his audience doubled over.
The hard-core Anthony fans, mostly old friends and Colonial Inauguration small group members who had already heard the stories dozens of times before, begged for his most shocking material. The bard demurred with a smile. It was a family crowd. More than once he apologized for his story-telling, which crept along at a turtle’s pace, but never disappointed.
“I tend to go off on tangents, but just be patient,” he said. “We’ll get to the story eventually.”
Anthony did get to the point once in a while, slowly but surely. The mystery of the red dress was solved, he escaped the “sensor-matic,” and eventually sobered up the night of the wine debacle. But his stories weren’t about a happy ending or even any ending at all. They were about laughing at the silly places we all end up sometimes. And as long as Anthony is telling the story, getting there is half the fun.