A physical description of character and contents in catalogue form:
-One pair of thick dark rimmed glasses, causing the eyes to appear inset and mole-like -One embroidered red baseball cap stating "Metropolitan Opera", declaring allegiance -One fanny pack, containing walkman -One small Citarella plastic bag inside of -One medium Barnes & Noble bag inside of -One large J&R music bag (contents undisclosed, but separate) -One large leather briefcase, doublewide. -Two Metropolitan Opera Season Books, front signed by Renee Fleming (pictured) -Four Metropolitan Opera playbills, signed by respective casts. -Four CD's (various) -Three DVD's (various) -Three Sharpies (for autograph collecting)
He would not be caught unawares by the sudden appearance of any opera icon. living or dead...
He was a relic collector. Signatures were kept in holy order, catalogued by name, faces, roles, productions, seasons. How many times had Renee Fleming signed his catalogue, page after page, night after night, red sharpie for the front cover, black for an internal program signature, blue for the season book...
Everything had to be in order, checked, touched by his own hands prior to arrival and returned to its appointed place in the double-wide before the train arrived at Lincoln Center. He felt envious eyes on him as he performed the pre-arrival ritual, removing each item from the bag by category (first program books, then CD's then DVD's) sorting it, checking it, shuffling quickly (if not efficiently.) He needed to act fast lest he attract too much unsolicited attention and make himself susceptible to threat of theft or violence.
It was a very valuable collection, anyone could see that. Even if the value could not be surmised by an amateur, they could still see it in the care with which he handled each item and the suspicion with which he viewed each and every one of us with him on the 1 train. There was one other passenger who required particular scrutiny. The gentleman directly to his right was wearing purple sunglasses, tight black jeans with cowboy boots with a seasoned jean jacket, and carried a large wicker basket which clearly contained a collection of his own. He was definitely an opera fan and was regarding the whole ceremony with a queer interest (as it were).
When the programs and season books slipped from hands (why! why did he not handle them one by one but rather so entirely awkwardly as a group?) the man with the wicker basket was all too eager to grab at the favored objects. Who could surmise if his hands (or intentions) were clean? A great scuffle ensued in which the all items were restored to the hands of the owner minus one notable exception- a program which was splayed underneath the subway bench (sensitive at this point to corrosive hazards of the highest caliber.) The man with the wicker basket knew it was there, but had encountered such scrutiny on his first gesture of assistance that he hesitated to chance it again.
I sat in the balance, again, cosmically placed just across the way from where I wanted be, where the action was. Occasionally I caught the eye of the man with the wicker basket and smiled. He raised his eyebrows. The collector's eyes remained fixed on his collection, occasionally surveying the potential threat level.
We both exited the subway at Lincoln Center, and I followed him for a block or so until our paths separated, his (at a rather quick pace for such a portly man) to the Met of course where if he hurried he would be exactly one hour early for Saturday's matinee performance of ,a href="http://texification.blogspot.com/2009/03/la-sonnambula-booing-nyc-booing-really.html">La Sonnambula.
My husband and I are both opera singers, and in the fall we moved from NYC to Michigan, where he is now a professor of voice and opera at Oakland University. In January we bought our first house-- an 1895 Victorian, and we're expecting our first child (a boy) in April.