Sunday, June 14, 2009

By the Horns

My flight didn't get into Syracuse until just before midnight last night - not too bad for me, as that's just 11 p.m. my time and I'm a night owl anyway. But my dad normally goes to bed at a reasonable hour. Still he came to the airport to pick me up, and then we sat up talking until two.

Don't you just love flight crews with a sense of humor? I thought we might actually give our ATL-SYR flight attendants a round of applause for the safety demonstration. They were great fun, but definitely a little tired; the guy read off the wrong flight number when welcoming us aboard, briefly confusing a few of the passengers. "I'm sorry, that's the number of tomorrow morning's flight back to Atlanta," he explained, "I'm just looking forward to leaving Syracuse."

"Hey!" shouted someone from the back of the plane. And I understand. I'd rather be in Syracuse than Atlanta, too.

Perhaps the pilot was tired as well. "Please use caution in opening the overhead compartments as contents may have shifted," the flight attendant read off as we taxied to the terminal, adding after a moment's thought, "especially after that landing."

My dad and I talked about a little of this and a little of that, though somehow we ended up with the relative merits of Mahler vs. Wagner (not that there's really any comparison), as well as the relative attractiveness of Austin Lyric Opera company members to members of other opera companies, and especially to the great opera stars of the past, many of whom apparently never heard that trans fats should be avoided rather than, say, taken intravenously.

"Why is it," my dad wondered, "that Wagnerian sopranos always seemed to be so large?"

The answer popped into my head just as I said it. "They had to be," I said, "in order to make it all the way to the end of the opera without dying of starvation." You see, I don't know if any operagoer has ever maintained consciousness through the entire Ring Cycle - or even just "Götterdämmerung"* - but a little-known fact is that Kirsten Flagstad was always a size 2 by the time she'd finished a performance, and was forced to refuel on massive quantities of smorgasbord to get her ready for the following evening. The sacrifices people will make for their art!

And as I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep, and still much too keyed up, I started thinking what an excellent quick-weight-loss program this would make. The problem would be devoting your life to the study of music and singing so you could become good enough to join an opera company and be cast as Sieglinde or Brunnhilde or Senta or Elisabeth or whoever - and that would take many many years, and I'm sorry but you really need to have already started on it - and then only do one performance, retire from the stage forever, and go have a salad.

You can't do this program in the comfort of your own home. Your helmet would poke holes in the ceiling.

*German for "That God damned ring"

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