“Harold, do you have the tickets?” The subway entrance was just in front of us.
“Got the tickets,” I replied patting my breast pocket. “What are you looking for in your purse?”
“I've got the tickets, Ethel.”
“Harold, you know they don’t seat you at the opera if you’re late. Are you sure you have the tickets?”
“Ethel, I have them right here, dear. We’re not going to be late. Here’s the subway.” I thought to myself — at least we wouldn't have been late if you hadn't changed your dress four times. How hard is it to choose a black dress from the four black dresses you bought last month? “Be careful on the stairs, dear … oops, there you go again. Good thing I caught you.”
“Harold, I can’t find my MTA card.”
“Look in your purse, sweets.”
“We should have taken a cab, Harry. You know I don’t like these stairs. Why didn't we take a cab?”
Here we go. Why don’t we take a cab, Harry? Why don’t we have a chauffeur, Harry? Why don’t we have a place in the Hamptons, Harry? Give me strength. We don’t have a place in the Hamptons because I spent our retirement money on black dresses.
“We didn't take a cab, sweets, because we’re ever so slightly late, and this time of day, the subway’s faster through Midtown.”
“Well, a cab would be better. Harold, this damn card won’t swipe? What’s wrong with these machines?”
“Turn the card around, lovey. The stripe goes the other way. That’s right. Now just push the turnstile. I hear the train. Do you hear the train, lovey?”
“Don’t be condescending, Harold. You know I don’t like condescension. This station stinks, Harry. Don’t you smell it? It stinks of … of … What’s that smell, Harry?”
“All subway stations stink, dear. Get on the train.” Of course the station stinks. That’s the definition of a subway station. Something that stinks. It smells like old Uncle Abner in the home.
A couple of tattooed young ladies with pink hair and pretty little gold chains from their ear lobes to their noses leapt from their seats and pointed for us to sit. I nodded and smiled.
“Oh, Harry,” Ethel gushed, “I do so love the opera. We should get season tickets. Can we afford season tickets? Did you get seats up close? You know I can’t hear well if we’re not up close.”
“We’re up close, sweets. You’ll hear just fine.” Please, I prayed, please don’t let the subway breakdown. Please get us there quickly. Please strike me deaf.
“Harold, I think that man across from us is staring at me. Why is he staring like that?”
I leaned close to my wife’s ear. “Whisper, dear. He heard you.” I made a feeble smile in the direction of the young man in the violet and white NYU sweatshirt. “He’s not staring at you, honey pot. He’s reading the subway map above your head.”
“Harold, Agatha and George will be at the opera tonight. Do you think we could get together with them after for a drink? It would be so nice to see Agatha again. George I can do without, but Agatha is such a dear. Harry? Why does George snort when he laughs?”
“Whisper, dear. I don’t know why George snorts. Some septum thing, I suppose. We’re here. Don’t trip.“
“Where’s the elevator, Harry? I can’t climb another flight of stairs. I just can’t. Don’t you just get exhausted with all these stairs?
“I do get exhausted, dear. There’s the elevator. Hurry, Ethel.”
“Never run for an elevator, Harold. It looks needy. Harry, do you think this black dress makes my bosom look nice? Does it hold them up?” The elevator arrived and we stepped in.
“Ethel! Don’t touch yourself there! It’s not ladylike, sweets. Your bosoms are fine in black. Like ripe eggplants. Just leave them be.” The elevator reached the top, the doors opened and we shuffled out with the throng. “Oh look, here we are.”
“Oh, Harold, I do so love Lincoln Center. Let’s hurry. Look at the lights. Do you see the lights, Harry? They do such a nice job with the lights.”
“Yes, dear, the lights are charming.”
“Did you remember to bring the tickets?”