Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Jenny, Jenny. You’re the girl for me. You don’t know me but you make me so happy. Jenny, I’ve got your number. I need to make you mine. Jenny, don’t change your number. 867-5309.

I think I’m being stalked by the Chicago Lyric Opera. It’s totally my fault. I brought this on myself a couple months ago. A while back, I received a postcard in the mail from the Opera promoting a drawing for free season tickets. I thought, “Free season tickets! Who deserves this more than a thirty-something unemployed tap dancing stay-at-home-mom-without-children? No one, that’s who!”

My mom and I used to go to the opera together, and it’s been years since I’ve gone, so I filled out the form and popped it in the mail. Now, I work(ed) in marketing, so of course I know that the reason organizations hold giveaways is to build their database of potential customers. But for some reason, my gut told me to register. My gut told me that I had a shot at winning those season tickets. I have learned to no longer trust my gut on such matters.

About two weeks after I mailed in my postcard, she started calling. I mistakenly answered her call the first time, and that’s when our rocky relationship began. Her name is Patricia. Patricia is an older woman, and from the South, or so I gather from her slight drawl. At first, I found it kind of endearing, but now it just grates on me. She’s very intelligent and worldly, clearly educated at the finest schools. She herself is an opera singer, which is why she’s so passionate about this season’s lineup.

Patricia knew so much about opera – more than anyone I had ever met. She had a way of making even the dourest of Wagner pieces sound absolutely enchanting. In addition to our love of opera, Patricia and I also shared a passion for great filmmakers, particularly Robert Altman. Patricia informed me that Robert Altman’s movie, A Wedding, has been refashioned into an opera, which just so happens to also be featured on this season’s schedule.

Patricia wanted to know if I was interested in purchasing some advance tickets for the 2004/2005 opera season. She assured me that it would be a season I’d never forget. So different from all the others. I told Patricia that I would need to check with my mother to see if she might want to attend the opera this year. At first, Patricia seemed a little hurt that I was letting my family dictate how our relationship progressed, but being from the South, she said she appreciated that I had a close relationship with my “momma.” I didn’t like the way Patricia called my mother “momma.” It would mark the beginning of the end.

Patricia asked when she could call me again. I told her I needed some time. At least a week. I was a little uncomfortable with how aggressive Patricia had become, so I lied and said my mother was out of town. I said I wouldn’t be able to discuss the opera with her until next week. I’m not sure if Patricia believed me or not, but she said that she’d call me the next week.

True to her word, Patricia called me the following Wednesday at 3:00, just like she promised me she would. We chit-chatted for a bit, and then Patricia asked how my “momma” was, and if I’d gotten her input yet. I told Patricia that we were interested in either Aida or Tosca, and asked what the price ranges were for first balcony seats. This is where our relationship started to sour.

I just wanted individual tickets, but Patricia told me that since those two performances are so popular, individual tickets would be hard to come by. I gave her eight alternate dates for each opera, but she still seemed to hesitate. Then I said I’d be open to mid-week performances, or even matinees, but that wasn’t good enough. Suddenly, it seemed like nothing I did was right. I started wondering where this had all gone so wrong.

Patricia told me that my best option was to purchase a small series. That way, although I’d be paying more, I’d get to see five operas at only a fraction of the individual ticket price. I told her I thought she was moving too fast. I didn’t understand why we needed to define our relationship in terms of “small series” at this stage. I was just looking for an individual ticket, and now she was pressuring me into some long-term commitment I wasn’t ready to make.

I told her that I would need to talk to my mother again to get her thoughts. Patricia snapped at me and asked if I needed my mother’s permission for everything. I said no, not everything, but this was a big decision, after all. I’ve never been in a small series arrangement before.

Patricia called me back the following week, and has called several times a week since then. She never leaves me a message, but I see her pop up on my caller ID. I know it’s cowardly on my part, but I’m just not ready to deal with her yet. I know when I tell her I don’t want a small series, and that I just want to stick with an individual performance, it’s going to start a whole argument again. I can hear her nagging already: “Do you realize how much money you could save by getting the small series? I just don’t understand you. I don’t even know who you are anymore! What, did your momma tell you to do that? When are you going to cut the apron strings and finally make a decision on your own?”

So this week I’m prepping myself for the inevitable. When she calls, this time I’ll pick up. I just need to be honest with her and tell her that it’s not her, it’s me. We’re just in two different places right now, and I’m not ready for a small series. I just hope we can still be friends.