"How nice to see you again, Lance" she tittered. "If you can just help me with my coat, I’m all set and ready to go." Kevin reached for the black fur coat hanging from the door to Lally’s hallway closet and held it up as the old woman snuggled into her mink.
"Aren’t you looking lovely tonight, Mrs. Fitzwater! I’m so glad you asked me to accompany you to the Met," he said. "I just know you’ve got a full dance card these days."
Lally shuddered with delight at his flattery and closed the apartment door behind them. As they rode downstairs in the elevator, Kevin gave her a quick story synopsis of Wagner’s opera to help keep the conversation going.
"Do you love dragons as much as I do?" Lally asked, as they waited for the traffic light to change.
"They’re my favorite kind of beast," replied her escort (unless, Kevin thought, we include all those old dinosaurs who take young hustlers to the Met). As they walked past the fountain in Lincoln Center, Lally’s eye caught sight of a plane headed north over the Hudson River.
"Twinkle, twinkle, shine so bright, you’re the last plane I’ll see tonight," she muttered.
If Kevin failed to hear her it was because his attention had been distracted by a short and rather plainly-dressed woman who was standing in their path. "Oh, hi, Edith. Looking forward to tonight’s performance?" he asked.
Suddenly, he felt a tug on his arm as Lally pulled him toward the entrance to the Metropolitan Opera House. "Shame on you, Lance," she hissed. "You shouldn’t be talking to other women when you’re my date for the evening."
"But Mrs. Fitzwater, it was only Edith Susnick," Kevin sighed. "She’s the librarian at Columbia University who helped me when I was working on my term papers. Edith’s a very nice lady who knows an awful lot about opera."
"I don’t care what she does for a living or how much she knows, young man. Until tonight’s opera begins, I expect your undivided attention," barked Lally.
"You know, there’s something very strange about you, Lance," she added as they entered the Met’s lobby. "Whenever we go to the opera, you seem to know everyone in the audience. One would almost think you lived in Lincoln Center!"
Kevin didn’t pay too much attention to Lally’s accusations. He’d already been through this routine with enough clients to know that many old women were just not used to being out and around people. "It’s nothing to be upset about, Mrs. Fitzwater. I have lots of friends who come to the opera; it’s a musical passion we all share. And our passion helps us to meet other people who enjoy opera as well," he explained.
"Actually, you wouldn’t believe the stories behind some of the folks who stand through performances at the Met five or six times a week. Of course, those people can’t afford nice expensive box seats like yours, but there are some pretty interesting characters here. I’ll bet that if you were to meet some of them on the street somewhere, you’d never in a million years suspect that they went to the opera!"
Lally didn’t want to hear about those other people. As she stopped before one of the glass display cases housing historic costumes from the Met’s Golden Age of Opera, she turned to Kevin and said "That may well be true, son, but those folks will never get you anywhere in life. Now, then, why don’t you tell me more about yourself? I get the feeling that beneath those big beautiful blue eyes there lurks a real tiger of a man."