Opera and All That Jazz
Rosalie M. LoPinto
Jill knew he was out of her league from the moment she met him. Sam, on the other hand, was sure he had met the girl of his dreams. After all, they met at an upper West Side gala celebrating the debut of Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment, his favorite opera. She was beautiful, she was charming, she was an opera buff, and she shared his enthusiasm for gourmet food.
Well, maybe she was not so much an opera buff or gourmand; more like the sister-in-law of the maestro, who felt obligated to come to at least one opening night performance. Still, Jill knew how to feign sophistication; how to hold a glass of champagne while nibbling on pickled quail eggs. The designer dress she wore was worth every penny as Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome couldn’t take his eyes off her for the entire evening.
That first night Jill and Sam capped the evening with a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park. She laughed until her sides hurt as Sam entertained her with his uncanny imitation of a man from India.
“Seriously, though, I love Indian food,” he said. “How about you?”
“Love it,” Jill eagerly replied, though previous experience taught her that curry makes her gag.
“Great, Friday we’ll go to Brick Lane Curry House on East Sixth Street!”
“Fabulous,” she ansered.
“I just have to be careful about the peanuts.”
“Yeah, they use peanuts in some of their dishes, and I’m allergic big time. I could go into anaphylactic shock,” Sam said.
That’s if the curry doesn’t do me in first, Jill thought.
A few months into the relationship, after seeing more operas than she ever planned on seeing in her entire life, Jill thought it was time to bring this thing to another level. What was the saying, ‘The way to a man’s heart…’
“Hon’, how about this weekend I make you dinner?”
“Sure sweetie, what did you have in mind?”
“Don’t you worry about a thing, Sam darling. Your palate will be amply satisfied.”
When did I start talking like this?! Anyway, that palate will be satisfied by Gourmet Catering on Fifth Avenue, she mused.
Jill slipped into her black capris and the white silk blouse with golden buttons. Glancing in the mirror, she checked her makeup and hair, and smiled to herself. Sam would be amazed at how elegant she looked after an afternoon of ‘slaving over a hot stove’. The delivery was set for 5 PM and he would arrive by 6. That would give her just enough time to heat the food and put it on her own serving trays.
By 5:45 the delivery bags were down the chute, the table was set and the candles on the table were lit. Jill sat down with a glass of ice water and waited for the bell to ring, which it did promptly at 6. Right on time, as usual, Jill thought.
A warm embrace and Jill ushered Sam to the dining room.
“A beautiful woman, a beautiful table,” Sam said. “Why didn’t we do this sooner? It’s so nice to have a home-cooked meal for a change.”
Jill poured a glass of wine, and waited for his approval of the vintage.
With that she exited to the kitchen, returning with the spinach salad and “freshly baked” bread, which they consumed at a leisurely pace.
“Ready for the main course?” she asked. “It’s called chicken satay. It’s one of my favorite recipes. Just be sure and save room for my white chocolate mousse.”
“Bring it on!” Sam said.
The rich aroma of garlic drifted upward as Jill removed the silver cover from the serving dish. She placed a large serving of the diced chicken concoction in Sam’s plate along with some steamed rice and sautéed string beans.
Filling his fork, Sam smiled and lifted it to his mouth. After swallowing, Jill was sure he was about to complement her. Covering his heart with his hand she thought he was engaging in hyperbole…until his face turned red and he started gasping for breath. He couldn’t speak; reaching out to her, he fell off the chair.
The ambulance was there in no more than ten minutes. After some reassurance from the EMT guy, Jill said she would meet them at St. Luke’s. She wanted to make a quick call to Sam’s brother and tell him what was going on.
Reaching for the phone in the kitchen, Jill’s eyes fell on the telltale remnant of paper from Gourmet Catering, lying on the floor. It was part of the wrapping from the Chicken Satay. Slowly she read the label. Ingredients: Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Garlic Cloves, Diced Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomato Peanut Butter…
Sam’s brother said he’d head right over to the hospital, but Jill begged off. “Tell him, I’ll call him, okay?”
With that, she hung up and proceeded directly to the coffee table in the living room, upon which lay several Playbills, including the one for Daughter of the Regiment. Jill scooped them up, went out into the hall, down two doors to the left. She opened the door, pulled the chute open and dumped the Playbills down the incinerator.
Returning to her apartment, Jill poured herself a glass of wine, sprawled out on the couch, and whispered a prayer for Sam. Then she thanked God she wouldn’t have to eat any more curry or see one more opera.
I work in communications, and began freelancing in a small way a few years ago. In May of 2009 I hope to complete my MA in Journalism. I would love to teach a writing class at the college where I'm employed, and to exponentially increase my freelance efforts. Contact Rosalie.