The line up was almost a block long and the doors weren't due to open for a half an hour. Joe and I have been attempting to get to as many of the 'Met at the Movies' broadcasts as we can. We knew that the live performance of Lucia di Lammermoor was going to be packed because we had bought the last two tickets from a theatre that was showing it in two halls. We arrived early and got in the line up. We waited quietly together and I listened to the buzz of conversations happening around us. There is something about going to an opera, even a performance where popcorn can be consumed, that turns people into snobs. Even voice patterns are affected, DAHling.
Two women walked along the line up hurrying in tiny 'old lady' steps towards the back of the line. They walked arm in arm together the way that ladyfriends do. They took their place a couple of spots behind us. They were easy to hear because the spoke loudly to one another - like each had their aid turned off. Directly behind us was an 'opera queen' who had dressed for the even and seemed annoyed at the hoi polloi with whom he was forced to share a line up. The only noise he made was the occasional sniff when someone wearing jeans joined the line.
The elderly women were talking, almost predictably, about their grandchildren. One of them mentioned that her grand daughter Anna had started a new job. The other one said, loudly, 'Now that's the one with Down Syndrome, right?'
There was a pause and even though they were behind me I could hear one arm being withdrawn from another. The temperature around us dropped. I think others noticed too because around us chatter died like a canary in a toxic mineshaft.
'Yes, she had Down Syndrome. Let's make sure that everyone around us knows that my grand daughter has Down Syndrome. Every time I talk about her you ask 'she's the one with Down Syndrome'. Every time. Well for the last time. Anna has Down Syndrome. I know that. She is a lovely girl. She's just started work. She's moved into her own apartment. Now you, when you talk about Jason, do I say 'He's the drunk who can't hold a job?' Or when you talk about that horrible girl, Caroline, do I say, 'She's the one who her parents can't get into therapy?' I've had it. I love my grand daughter. ANNA, THE ONE WITH DOWN SYNDROME.'
A few people actually applauded the little tyrade when done. I didn't because just when they were done the doors openned and I needed my hands to push my chair forward. When we got into the theatre, we raced as fast as we could to get in and get a seat together. We managed to settle down and Joe went out to get snacks. He came back and told me that he'd seen the two women go into the other theatre where the opera was to be played.
The performance was wonderful and and I had forgotten everything but the music. Joe took me to the top of a long interior ramp and said, 'I'll let you make your way down while I go to the washroom. I eased down the ramp being careful to control speed so that I didn't bump into calves or shins. I pushed myself by the door to the other auditorium where the opera had played and parked near the exit and waited for Joe to come. The women walked by talking about the performance. They had seemed to have moved on from the spat they'd had earlier.
I wonder if ANNA, THE ONE WITH DOWN SYNDROME, knows that grandma's got her back?