It was the night of the Gala Finale at the symphony. Since the studio supports the symphony, the symphony supports me, mainly by our taking photographs of anything and everything they do and they, in turn, use those photographs in all of their publicity, with the studio's name in fairly bold, but tiny letters. I did, however small the lettering, like being known as the symphony's exclusive photographer.
I had invited Lou to join me for dinner and the symphony, and she was especially excited because, in addition to the usual fare of classical and pop music, the tenor and the soprano from the Metropolitan Opera would be performing excerpts from "La Boheme", her favorite opera.
I arrived at her home to pick her up. She came to the door and looked absolutely stunning. Outside of the last New Year's Eve, I hadn't seen her in a dress, and the one she had on that night was absolutely gorgeous. It was a smoke grey in color and fitted her like a glove. I felt like the village idiot drooling over her. The bodice was tight across her breasts, and I could see their outline, young, firm and luscious. The skirt was like a number of large silk handkerchiefs sewn into the waist, allowing her legs to flash with every step. Even though the gown's neckline is cut in a very low "V", she was elegance incarnate.
She took one look at my stunned expression and giggled, her hand delicately covering her mouth. She had a diamond pendant at her throat, setting off the dress and her throat beautifully. Even her firefly tattoo looked good. By this time, her hair had grown quite a bit and she had combed it down the middle, and the red of her hair complimented the dress. She had donned a pair of dark red high heeled sandals, which were strapped delicately above her ankles and nylons. I figured they were stay-ups as Lou hated pantyhose. How she felt about garters was something I didn't know. A small black clutch purse completed the ensemble.
She stood there, looking at me in my tux and she sighed. She reached up and brushed off some imaginary lint from my tux. "You clean up pretty good, mister," she said. "Do I look OK?"
"My God," I said. "Every man there is going to wish they were me. The women are going to be so jealous!" I turned and offered her my arm, which she took, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. I tried to walk sedately, but Lou was practically skipping down the walk. It was hard to keep up with her. Thank goodness I have very long legs!
Tonight, we were going in the sedan, even though I was taking a number of candid photographs at the Gala and I needed some of my equipment. I took Lou to the passenger side and opened the door for her. She daintily sat in the seat and pulled in her legs in a very lady-like manner, both legs at the same time. I only got a quick glimpse of her long legs. I leaned down, on the pretext of fastening her seat belt and whispered, "Lou, you look so fantastic tonight."
She laughed lightly and pulled my face around to hers, giving me a smoldering kiss. She wiped the lipstick from my mouth and, with her eyes looking up through her lashes, said, "We'd better be going. We don't want to be late, do we?" I shook my head and beat a hasty retreat.
I went around to my side of the car, glancing at my watch. She was right; we were running a touch late. We were to have dinner at the concert venue, an old opera house that had been completely renovated. I managed to get our seats at the symphony conductor's table. Il Tenore and Il Soprano are supposed to be there, also, but I hadn't told Lou. I wanted that to be a surprise.
We drove for a couple of minutes before I said, "I managed to get a copy of tonight's program. I also have the seating arrangements for dinner. Would you like to peruse them?" I handed her a couple of small booklets, one the program and the other a program for the dinner. I also handed the tickets to the dinner with our table number on them to her.
Lou reached up and flicked on the interior light so that she could see a little better. She compared the dinner tickets to the table arrangements and did a classic double-take. She looked closer and then squealed and practically jumped out of her seat. She threw her arms around me, pulled me over to her and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. This is one of the reasons I had kept it a secret from her: she's always so thrilled about surprises and acts like a little girl at Christmas when I give her one. I just hope my eardrums can handle the squeals!
We arrived at the opera house and I parked the car in the rear. I had some gear to unpack. Even during the dinner I expected to be working, taking table shots. I don't expect Lou to do much, but she grabbed up a camera equipped with a flash, some extra batteries and a couple of memory cards. She slipped the batteries and memory cards into her clutch and held the camera loosely. I loaded myself similarly, except everything went into my pockets. I figured two cameras should handle everything.
Once we got inside, I found a place near our table where we could stash the equipment and still get to it quickly when dinner was over. I kept one camera and flash with me as we made our way to the lobby where the dinner was going to be served. Even though it was a large lobby, the balcony was pressed into service because the crowd was so large. It seems that everybody who was anybody in town wanted to support the symphony that night!
Our table, with the conductor, tenor and soprano was on the balcony. It overhung the lobby in such a way that we could see the people below and get some very interesting pictures. So much cleavage was on display that night! Of course, I strongly suspected that some of the women knew what we could see and would lean forward just for the amusement of us on the balcony.
When we arrived, people were still milling about, so I immediately started snapping pictures. Lou, even though she tried to hide it, was impressed with the interior of the opera house. She was staring at everything and everybody.
Still, her innate elegance came to the fore and she recovered quickly so that no one, except me, really noticed. It didn't hurt that almost everyone else was acting the same way. I looked over at Lou, and I couldn't help but notice that her nipples were hard from her excitement. She was fairly trembling like a thoroughbred before a big race.
Soon enough, I led her up the stairs to the balcony where our table was. Several people were up there already, admiring the view and the restored architecture. Truth to tell, the old girl was looking very nice. The people in charge of the renovations did their very best to recreate the elegance that was present in the original designs of the opera house, right down to the frescoes and gilded paint. It had cost quite a bit, but the taxpayers didn't pay anything unless they wanted to; it was all done by private donations.
Amongst the crowd on the balcony were three of the people I knew would be at our table: the conductor, Il Tenore and Il Soprano. I knew that Lou was anxious to meet them, especially the diva. I'm not talking the woman; Il Tenore was known for his 'tantrums'. So far, on this trip, he'd been on good behavior, but Lord only knew when he'd explode.
I saw someone with whom I was familiar, the principal violinist who was also the concert mistress. She was an old friend of mine and I flagged her down. I asked her to make the introductions and we all made small talk. It's obvious, at least to me that Lou was trying very hard not to gush all over Il Tenore. He, of course, basked in her adoration. He took it in stride as his due, and he was able to put her at ease. As accustomed as he was to beauty, I can see that he was as mesmerized by her beauty as I was. The soprano, although a beauty in her own right, could not hold a candle to her that night.
Thankfully, shortly after being introduced, the maitre d signaled that it was time for dinner. Il Tenore offered Lou his arm, and without a glance to me, she took it and he led her to our table. I offered my arm to the soprano and she took it after glancing at Lou and Il Tenore. Both Il Tenore and I held the chairs for our lovely ladies, and we took seats beside them. It worked out that I was between the women, and Il Tenore was on Lou's right side.
The salad was served almost as soon as we were seated and the conversation dragged a little amongst most of us as we ate, but Il Tenore was holding forth despite the food.
After the soup course, the soprano made her excuses (she said she couldn't have meat until after the concert), and the men all stood until she was away from the table. I could see several men's eyes following her. We resettled ourselves and the entrée was brought before us. Lou looked a bit puzzled.
"Signor Terripeli, I don't understand. Ms. Morgan said that she didn't eat meat until after a performance. Why do you?"
Il Tenore, a big, broad shouldered, very masculine man, replied, in his thick, Italian-accented English: "It is like-a thees, mi bella. The soprano, she thinks that the meat, it will hurt her, how you say, ah the vocal-a chords. She thinks it will keep her from-a getting the big-a breath. Sopranos! They all are-a crazy! The meat is-a good, it-a sustains the body for the big-a arias!"
We all laughed, and Lou's giggle was like a bell above our male guffaws. Il Tenore leaned in close to Lou. "Tell-a me, bella: are you a soprano? I hope-a not, because it would-a mean you are-a crazy, too!"
Lou laughed, again. "No, no, Signor Terripelli, I'm not a soprano. I sang alto in school. Jonny is a bass."
.... There is more of this story ...