I sat enthralled in an auditorium filled with old world decadence, with walls trimmed in gold and classic sculpture staring down at me. The acoustics of Symphony Hall are such that the music becomes an avatar. It is not only sound, but body and aroma and fingers that pluck at your heart and send chills up your spine especially if you are listening to the world class Boston Symphony orchestra.
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I closed my eyes to better take in the concert for one brief moment it felt that the heavens had opened their doors. I wonder if Grams is staring down on me, I thought and then I felt something hit my face. I felt it again this time it was caught in my hair. I reached up and pulled out a piece of popcorn, sitting beside me in an empty seat dressed in soft pink with mauve lipstick was Grams. She had a glass of wine one hand and a box of popcorn in her lap. She took out a handkerchief to dab her eyes moved by the musical direction and then obviously looking a little annoyed said to me, “Well, don’t look so shocked dear, I always enjoyed the symphony.” I was about to respond but something else had caught her attention, someone over in the next row.
“Look at that Geezer in the next row; he’s snoring away like an espresso machine.”
I looked over to where she was pointing and I could see a bald head rolled forward and shoulders hunched over. His companion next to him seemed not to notice. I was about to ask Grams what she was doing here when she started flicking her popcorn at the old bald bull’s eye – although it seemed not to be making an impression.
“Stop that,” I said completely mortified.
“Really dear, it doesn’t seem to be bothering him, and anyway this has become rather amusing.”
“That’s enough, you might miss and hit someone else,” I said grabbing the popcorn from Grams and in the process spilling the entire box; as I reached down to pick-up the now empty box completely mortified, I jerked myself awake.
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My purse had fallen onto the floor. I looked around the theater. No one seemed to notice my little episode, next to me was auntie Rukhsana with her jet black hair coiled up in a bun, tinged with threads of grey, dark mascara lining her gypsy eyes and lips painted a deep red. Across from me in the next row the elderly gentlemen remained asleep undisturbed by our commotion. Later during dinner at Sorellina when Grams asked me what I was thinking about during the concert, I told her I was remembering Grams.
After the concert, I hailed a cab and auntie Rukhsana and I headed to Sorellina for dinner. I hopped that Grams ghost wasn’t hiding in the back. It was a chilly night and on a night like this nothing seemed better than a steaming plate of pasta. Despite the bustling restaurant auntie Rukhsana and I were given a quiet table in the corner. As soon as we had ordered it became apparent that Rukhasana auntie had invited me today for a reason…Armand.
Armand, auntie Rukhsana’s nephew, had been burying himself in work, declining social invitations and looking extremely preoccupied or at least more preoccupied than usual. “He’s turning into a hermit,” Rukhsana auntie had exclaimed. In fact, auntie had invited me this evening at least partially because Armand had, had to cancel at the last minute.
“If it was only a nice girl, I could understand…” Rukhsana auntie trailed off. I had to bite.
“What do you think it is?” I asked munching on an Arugala salad, with truffled pecorino moliterno, pine nuts, lemon vinaigrette, matsutake that had just been placed before me. That’s when auntie let me know she thought he may prefer confiding in someone his own age, one of his peers. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with where this was going, but we took a pause as the entrees arrived. I took stock of my fettuccine with exotic mushrooms, truffle butter and as I dived head first into the pasta I momentarily forgot about our conversation. Auntie must have interpreted my behavior as contemplation as she delicately dined on her spaghetti, with blue angel prawns, chili, guanciale, spicy tomato brood, (yum, I made a mental note to try this next time).
Licking sauce from my lips and feeling the warmth of warm pasta radiate inside my stomach I replied to auntie request.
“Armand and I are not very close,”
“But he has a great deal of admiration for you. Please tell me you’ll at least try.”
Her gypsy eyes were giving me the heebeejibees and so I agreed. I had to admit if he could keep something from Rukhsana auntie he had to be big.
After all that pasta I didn’t have room for dessert but I ordered one anyways. When I saw it on the menu I had to have it, Semi Freddo, with chocolate hazelnut, frangelico cream, candied hazelnut. This dessert is a cross between mousse and ice cream. It melts on your tongue in the lightest way possible, which is great after all that heavy pasta. Auntie Rukhsana feeling satisfied with the evening was nibbling on almond hazlenut biscotti with chocolate sauce and sipping an espresso.
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As I went home I had a lot to think about. Harry was waiting for me in the lobby. I almost forgot the delicate package I had for him, a silk handkerchief wrapped in delicate tissue with a thank you note. The very hanky that I had borrowed from my neighbor (and apparently owner) of the security company that works this building. I was too chicken to give it to him in person but brave enough to scent it with my perfume. It was a sly, even seductive gesture and a little unlike me… but, I told myself the music made me do it.
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