It came on the radio just now, and I flashed back to a moment in the nineteen-eighties when, together with my late and ex, strolling the lobby of the horrendously garish Kennedy Center (“a great place for blind people to listen to music”), I crossed paths with a woman who had been my co-worker in my last straight job, out for the evening with a gal pal whose glance registered on me as supercilious and condescending even before she opened her pie-hole.
It was one of those programs where they stuff a gruesome piece by some modern composer right in the middle, so that you can’t escape it by arriving late or leaving early — the kind of thing that makes you cringe for the musicians, their lifelong dedication and divine skill prostituted to the performance of a piece that sounds like a cross between hives and hiccups, with no discernible rhythm or melody. You either tough it out till intermission or go back into the hall resigned to enduring the damn thing. I forget which applied in this instance but Mozart’s 35th closed the program, and I remarked, “We’re holding out for the Haffner.”
Ms. Supercilious looked at me pityingly. “There’s nothing on the program by Haffner,” she said, glancing furtively at her crib, which identified the symphony only by number.
For the rest of his days, the L&X could crack me up by repeating that remark. I can’t remember whether, in the moment, we put the poor woman out of her misery.