The problem with going to the opera, which I do roughly every two years, usually with my grandmother, is that before I ever set foot in an opera house I had seen at least five movies where a man falls madly in love with a very beautiful woman because he takes her to the opera for the first time and she cries bit stupid idiot tears because she doesn’t know you’re not supposed to cry at the opera, just have a jaded and adulterous sexual encounter with whoever brought you afterwards.
And the camera zooms in on her gloriously massive, moon-sized head leaking idiot juice, and you know it’s time for you to fall in love with her because her mouth is wide as a shovel and it’s wretched trembling, so you have to fall in love with her because right now the man is falling in love with her for being so upset by the opera or maybe the ballet, which makes you his rival, which doesn’t make any sense because you’re supposed to want him to fall in love with you at the opera for being so sensitive about opera, because the movie’s just given you the trick to how to make someone fall in love with you while watching an opera, which is to become a big piano string of a woman, all shivers and reverberation and vibrating after the hammer-strike. Too stupid to know the rules, responds to confusion by dissolving into tears, big beautiful wobbling face that slides to the side of your big bewildered head: That’s a woman at the opera, and anyone who watches her do it has to fall in love with her right away.
So every time I go to the opera now, I start thinking, When am I going to start crying so the man sitting next to me can fall in love with me? Which sort of interrupts whatever emotional cycle I was working myself into in order to start crying. Where’s the big man’s-eye-camera that will fall in love with me once I start crying? At the opera men are: Cameras, noticing, big eye of surprise, okay, I already saw this one, my car’s parked outside, Johnson & Johnson No More Tears, tickets in pocket, short line in bathroom, wallet is brown, dry, normal about music, white scarf around jacket. At the opera women are: Face getting bigger, eyes wet like a hot lake, mouth so big and twisted down, all feelings, music ruins their lives, can’t tell someone’s looking at them, baby bird, never bored, nine hours, spine straight as a necklace, all throbbing, all gush, all wound, no skin. That’s how it works: Opera starts, women who have never heard of music have a quiet breakdown in the dark, the smell of their hot tears attract the attention of men because of pheromones, men fall in love with them, women have no idea because they’re busy turning into giant satellite-receivers made of skin to absorb more and more opera and produce more and more weeping. And that’s never happened to me at the opera yet, so I’m always too distracted waiting for the transformation to start to figure out if I even want to cry or not.