Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My sister B. A. -- no, it doesn't stand for Bad Ass, though it probably should -- called me. I don't usually listen to what she has to say, since it usually involves her newest outfit or what her three-year-old is up to now. When the kid starts hacking into vice presidential email accounts I'll start listening, but for now I'll be checking my fingernails and scanning the TV Guide.

Out of the blue, though, she stumbled onto something interesting. "I went to the opera last night and it was a total disaster. God, all the screeching and histrionics. And that was just the gay guy next to me."

She paused here for laughter, but I was absorbed in a hangnail I'd found. "I read in Cosmo how it's such a great pickup spot," she continued, immune to my silence, "because it's all culture and rich folks, and they're right. It's perfect. If you're a HORNY GAY DUDE."

My ears perked up like Lassie's do when Timmy falls into a well. "I was completely surrounded by them," she continued. "Like Indians circling the stagecoaches. Except instead of scalping you they'd scissor-cut and blow-dry your hair. Such a waste! Well-dressed, handsome. And they didn't give me a second look." Sigh. "There goes a hundred bucks, right down the drain."

In my mind I batted around a sympathetic reply, like, "Wow. You could have bought fifty sippy cups!" but I'd spent the afternoon cleaning the bathroom and figured I'd debased myself enough for one day. Instead I told her I suddenly remembered an appointment and I went straight to the Metropolitan Opera's website. B. A. wasn't kidding about the prices. Two hundred bucks for the good seats here. But I couldn't be stingy if I wanted to find a good man, and I could never spend my life with a dude from Standing Room. Their reviews for "Salome" said Karita Matilla caused a sensation the last time she sang the role, so that settled it.

One ticket for "Salome," please. September 23 is fine.

Well, September 23 turned out to be opening night, so the patrons were dressed to the hilt. The women -- of a certain age, assisted by the wonders of plastic surgery -- wore gowns and million-dollar jewelry, and the men looked dapper in their tuxedos and Brylcreemed hair.

I mingled excitedly with the crowd. Why hadn't I thought of this? Stupid me had been hanging around bars. Hang around bars and you'll meet alcoholics, the saying goes. Hang around opera houses and you'll meet rich dudes, I realized, so I cruised for all I was worth. I smiled, crinkling my eyes like Tyra taught me. And I didn't get one single interested glance in return. The men ranged in age from forty to eighty, and even the guys with canes and Coke-bottle glasses didn't look back. Desperate, I stopped in the bathroom. All eyes forward. No surreptitious glances. No offers to shake me dry.

Suddenly the lights flashed and everyone scurried for their seats. I filed into the eighth row, right next to a fiftyish man. I put him through my mental calculus: nice looking + confident expression - balding + tuxedo - white beard + expensive watch = BOOK THE FREAKIN' CHURCH. I took my seat and started to leaf through the program before deciding there wasn't a second to waste. "I heard this Salome caused a sensation the last time she performed. She must really be great."

"She is," the man replied in Sean Connery's voice. Then he leaned closer, and whispered: "I hear she's shaved tonight."

My eyes darted toward the stage as I processed his words. There was no way I could get them to come out right. Her legs? Her face? I decided to just repeat the word. "Shaved?"

He winked, like he was confiding a secret. "Her pussy. Last time around she had a great big brown bush, but this time around she's shaved bare."

A thousand questions took flight inside my head. Why was this man fixated on a soprano's genitalia? How did he know such details of its current state? How loudly do people scream when you projectile vomit on them? And most importantly, when I should have been debating Maria Callas and bel canto and La Scala with another homosexual, why was I discussing pussy with an old straight man?

Curiosity throttled my desire to find a suitable mate. "How do you know all this?" I asked.

"She gets naked at the end of the Dance of the Seven Veils," he said. "And I've got friends who've seen her rehearse."

All of a sudden it hit me. All the pieces fell into place. That's why this gay mecca was wall-to-wall with heterosexual men. That's how this soprano "caused a sensation" the last time she sang the role.

I assumed they meant she had a good voice. Nope. She flashed New York the beav.

The lights went down and the opera started, and sure enough Karita showed New York her glory. At the end, she got five curtain calls. One or two had to be in appreciation of her voice, but the rest seemed directed at her pruned bush.

I wandered out amid eight thousand contented, heterosexual faces and took the subway straight to the Dugout. No matter how much the world is changing, I reassured myself, there's still one place in America that will always be pussy-free.

"Help me," I said to the doorman. "I saw pussy tonight." And even before I got inside I had a cold compress on my head and a martini in my hand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Norma and Violetta and Tosca -- ftw! Who cares about German operas filled with strippers? :P