GIVING IT UP. 10-31-11
By coincidence Megan – the one time best friend of Ben Morris’s wife, Brenda – rented an apartment in the same building that he’d moved into at the time of the separation.
They occasionally met up in the Lobby or in an elevator and they always chatted amiably for a while because she deplored Brenda’s treatment of him almost as much as he did and that was even though she didn’t know about how, in court, she’d used the, “Yes, but that was then and this is now,’ ploy to go back on her word and leave him with very little in the way of assets.
One day she, Megan, called him up and offered him a free ticket to the concert that Jean Walters, her new best friend who was a professional viola player, and the quartet that she led was giving the next night.
He accepted readily and with thanks because he’d heard the quartet’s name mentioned often and always favorably.
He enjoyed the entire performance, and, especially, Jean’s contribution so he decided to take advantage of the fact that the ticket that he’d been given entitled its owner to attend a reception back stage. He waited until Jean was alone and he introduced himself and told her that Megan was a friend of long standing.
That information made her soften somewhat towards him but she remained wary until his questions showed that he was not only fully conversant with the pieces that they’d played but he’d shown her that he was aware of some of the technical innovations that she and her colleagues had employed and was also erudite about the tempos that they’d used throughout.
Like all professional musicians she was not only passionate about music but she preferred that her friends were too and that made her ready to allow this good-looking friend of Megan to, maybe, become one of them.
They got on so well that she led him to a padded bench, which isolated them from the other people, and when they found that they shared another love, which was for sixteenth and seventeenth century portraiture, she told him that she’d been on a trip around Europe the year before – with the orchestra that was her principle employer – and had visited the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza in Madrid every morning that they were there because in it there were – he interrupted her to tell her that he knew it well – “Ah, of course you do, I should have guessed,” but force of habit made her want to end her sentence so she went on to tell him that, “As you know, there are two whole floors of paintings from those two centuries.”
They both realized that seeing that they were hungry – and would need hours to talk about their favorite paintings – it would be a good idea to go for dinner. They picked a restaurant that they both knew well and that was within easy walking distance of the hall and conveniently close to their own apartments.
Throughout the meal they had to discipline themselves to give the other one a chance to talk and, before they knew it, several waiters began to hover near their table, coughing meaningfully, and when they looked around they found that they were the only ones left in the place so they got their things together and made for the exit.
Neither of them wanted the night to end so they went to a quiet bar that he knew and they stayed there until two in the morning.
When he’d walked her home he said goodbye in the lobby and kissed her cheek and it was almost a given that they’d keep seeing each other but he complied with convention and asked her for a date on the next night.
They met up every evening of that week and when the weekend came around he suggested that they meet for brunch and then, because it was the first sunny day in months, they opted to go and sit in Bryant Park and eat an ice cream cone.
She was wearing a dress – bought for the occasion on the advice of a friend who was exasperated with her lack of initiative – with a cardigan over it, which was a regular habit of hers through every fall, winter and spring, and which did a good job of covering up her – uh – assets and which would have further exasperated her friend.
When they were sitting, facing the sun, she felt perspiration start up so she opened up her cardigan and by doing so he noted that her dress had rather a lot of décolletage but he didn’t pay it much attention because of their, up to then, purely platonic relationship and ethereal interests.
When they’d finished eating their ice cream they leaned back to soak up some rays and he found that being a lot taller than she was he could look down the front of her dress and see most of her breasts. He was surprised to have to acknowledge to himself that she actually had breasts, and large ones at that. To compound the issue he saw that they were mottled with freckles whereas if he had thought about it before then, which he hadn’t, he would have guessed them to be small and pert and alabaster white and smooth and perfect in keeping with the image that she projected overall.
But they weren’t. They were large and attractive and the freckles made them imperfect and because of that, far from being off-putting, they exuded warmth and were approachable and desirable.
In his mind she immediately changed from being a talented musician and art connoisseur who happened to be a woman into a Woman who was also a talented musician and art connoisseur and he found that he really wanted to get to know the Woman better.
His discovery made things stir internally and externally and, consequently, to ease the pain that the external one was giving him, through becoming caught up in his underpants, he had to surreptitiously slip his left hand into his pants pocket to rectify the problem and set it free to climb up and out of the doldrums.
They’d talked about going to the movies that evening but he knew that because it had been months since he’d been with a woman his needs, once aroused, wouldn’t ease away and so he’d be kept conscious of having them for hours and so sitting next to her in a darkened theater was out of the question. Because of that, when it was time to go, he said to her, “Uh, let’s not go to the movies. Having the sun in my face has put me off the idea of sitting in the dark for two hours so how would you like to come up to my place,” here he paused to see if the suggestion on it’s own would put that certain look on her face but it didn’t so he went on, “I’d like you to see and comment on the double portrait that I told you about that’s unsigned and that is, I think, I hope, by Frans Hals.”
He’d paid almost half a year’s salary for it at a small auction house in Oslo but he was complacent about that because knew well that he’d already gotten at least that much back by being able to hang onto the fees that he would have otherwise had to have paid a trick cyclist over the years since his divorce.
Fully trusting and eager to see his treasure she readily agreed and although they could have walked – should have walked – she didn’t object when he hailed a cab.
When they were up in his apartment he placed her in front of the painting in question and then he left her alone for all the time that she needed.
After her appraisal – with the best intentions in the world she’d looked at it carefully but had to stay true to herself by pronouncing herself to be ‘undecided’ – he poured her some wine and they sat side by side on his sofa.
He felt awkward so, remembering what had turned him on in the park and looking for a boost in courage, he asked her if she’d like to take her cardigan off, “Seeing that it’s quite warm in here.”
When she was doing that he repositioned a cushion, which made her body lean forwards more when she sat down again, and his height advantage once again allowed him to do his own appraisal and, once again, he liked seeing the freckles that both marred and enhanced the appeal of her body which gave him the impetus to move things along. He reached for her hand and after gauging her reaction, which was also ‘undecided,’ he squeezed it and on getting a squeeze back he ventured to kiss her mouth.
She had little to no experience with being kissed but she found that she liked it more than she feared what it might lead to and so she tried to respond and when, a few minutes into it, he surprised her by slipping the tip of his tongue between her lips she, tentatively, went along with that too and when she’d progressed enough to have encompassed the whole of it she got the strange – unlike anything else that men and women can do for themselves with themselves – feeling of oneness and the warm, pleasant feeling for the instigator who had, after doing that, unarguably become an intimate partner.
When her ‘Mmmmmmm’s’ told him what he wanted to hear he weighed one of her breasts, which made her ‘Mmmmmm’s’ change to MMMMMMM’s and so, emboldened, he undid the clasp of her bra, with one hand, and then eased that same breast out in to the air. She was surprised at his adroitness – she always had to use both hands to do that – but she filed away the piece of information, under the heading of, ‘Ask him how he did it later,’ because she was reveling in the new sensations that having her breasts handled and caressed were generating.
When he’d moved down to kiss them she stayed still and proudly watched him enjoy himself but when he started to suck on her nipple she, even though it was the first time that such a thing had ever happened to her, had the good sense to know that seeing him going at it wouldn’t be a good idea as regards her new found image of him as a macho lover so she closed her eyes and stopped analyzing the different feelings that she was getting and simply enjoyed them. She was, however, soon forced to note that the largest portion of them, by far, were coming up at her from her center and they combined to make her very, very aware of the fact that it was designed to be a receptacle after being penetrated.
He was, of course, looking forward to their first time together and he knew that, as always with new partners, it would most probably be somewhat awkward but most certainly very rewarding too.
For her part – seeing how the thought of being in bed with a man had been totally foreign to her just a few minutes earlier – she dreaded everything to do with it because she knew next to nothing about the mechanics of it and she didn’t even know whether she should tell him or let him find out for himself.
When things between them, on the sofa, had proceeded to the point where their moving to his bed was inevitable she allowed him to pull her to her feet and they moved, locked together by mouth and hands, in that general direction.
When he’d pulled down the bed covers and was getting undressed she murmured something about using the bathroom and she went into it and closed the door.
She looked in the mirror and saw, for the first time ever, that her face was suffused with lust and that her mouth was hanging a halfway open with desire. She tried to tell herself that it wasn’t too late to flee but then Nature, impatient Nature, took a hand and forced her to acknowledge that it was time that she fulfilled her role in the grand scheme of things so she turned away from the mirror and got undressed.
When she was about to join him on the bed – she was wearing a robe that had been hanging behind the bathroom door – she found him lying on the bed with a towel draped across his middle so as to not frighten her unduly because he was already very excited – common sense told her that she should ask him – not even knowing that it was a hoary old cliché – “Please be gentle with me,” and the rest of it followed easily, “because I’ve never – uh – been with a man before.”
He found that difficult to believe – “She has to be around forty years old, for chrisake,” he said to himself – but he had to, of course, so he proceeded slowly with pre-foreplay – kissing and caressing her belly and smoothing her haunches and her bottom – and when he’d progressed to actual foreplay his tongue confirmed her statement which made him slow everything down.
A little later he checked further with the middle finger of his right hand and it told him that not only was her hymen intact but, over the many years, it had hardened and aged into being a formidable barrier. He had to use a lot of pressure to get just the tip of his finger make any headway.
Finding that out made him pause, yet again, to reexamine his position – it had changed radically and the ramifications had to be considered carefully. For instance, breaking through as brutally as would be required to get it done could hurt her so much that it might well make her run screaming into the bathroom, with blood running down her thighs, and vowing to never let him near her again and he’d learned to like her far too much to take that risk and so he moved away from her and sat up in the bed.
She followed suit a minute later – thinking that she must have done something terribly wrong – and because they hadn’t yet – uh – been intimate she felt overly exposed and so she pulled the towel that he’d put under her free and used it as a partial shield. She then apologized in advance of asking him what was going on.
Not getting an answer made her say, “Why did you stop? I admit to knowing little about these things but I would have thought that finding out that you’d be the first one to – uh – have me, should please you not make you break away with that stricken look on your face.”
He hurried to re-assure her and then he explained his position. He pointed out that because she wasn’t – uh – young anymore she should maybe see her Gynecologist and ask her, “to – uh – use a scalpel to – uh – cut you. It will be in a sterile environment where she can – uh – staunch the blood flow, if that happens, without traumatizing you.”
She was lost for words and he took advantage of the pause to tell her that he hadn’t been with a virgin since he was about eighteen years old and the experience hadn’t been a good one – short term nor long term – for the girl or for himself. He went on to tell her the bit about not “wanting to risk losing her and . . . ”
She broke in to tell him that she’d have none of that, thank you. “I’ve put up with – uh – with my present condition for far too long already and ever since I was a teenager I’ve always thought of my ‘unused’ status as being a bore and a curse and so, ‘enough already.’
“I want you to – uh – change my status right here and now and I want you to use whatever force is required to get it done and I promise that I’ll cope with the pain and I won’t ever blame you no matter what happens. Please?”
He eventually capitulated and then he used ‘whatever force is required’ but, all in all and with the best intentions in the world, the episode resembled a clinical exercise more than making love.
He went into the bathroom to get more towels and to look for something that could act as a lubricant and then he went back to her. After placing the towels strategically, he’d applied the hand cream liberally and then he got into position and was surprised to find out that he didn’t have to give her any advice about opening herself up fully because, being an intelligent woman, she’d already done so.
In spite of the delay and the interruption and all of the pleading and the talk he’d found that he was as hard as he’d ever been in his life and that certainly helped him to, both physically and mentally, get on with getting the job done. She’d reached down to locate her entrance for him, again without having to be asked to do so, and he’d pushed in until he’d come up against the barrier just inside. He’d tested its mettle by probing at it and he gained very little ground indeed so he paused for a moment to gather up his forces, and to savor the moment, and in that second or two she’d been able to marvel at the fact of its very presence down there, nosing in at her, presaging the primitive, animalistic act that she’d always abhorred as being far to absurd to want anything to do with herself and yet, here she was, willing and able, and there it was, girding its loins, as it were, for the task at hand.
At the same time that she was dreading the coming onslaught she was also thrilled to the core – and thrilled at her core – from sensing the sheer heft and potency of the thing and of the rightness of it’s being there and the inevitability of it all.
He tried, all out, to get it done three times and he failed to get it done all three times.
When exhaustion had made him quit after each attempt he’d wanted to stop and rest up but Nature kept showing up – no doubt angry with him for implying that her design was faulty – and the urge, as it were, to succeed would surge back in and he’d make the moves that told her to get ready again and then he’d mount her and strive and strive until her screams of protest had reached such a crescendo that they forced him to stop. And then, when they’d both recovered a little, and she’d said so, he’d get back into position and go at it once more.
After their third semi-coordinated attempt had failed to get it done even Nature had second thoughts and so when it occurred to Jean that, compassionately, she should hold and soothe his poor, overly abused member he gave up and decided to settle for that tiny bit of solace and use it to try to get some sleep.
However, that was not to be.
By taking him in hand, as it were, she gave herself permission to do more than just hold it and so she explored and the sheer heft of it intrigued her and so she turned around and moved her body to be able bring both of her hands into play. She examined, by sight and touch, all that he had down there and it was all so new and so weird that it seemed to belong to a different species.
But then – still marveling at its oddness and its ugliness and impressed with the harsh animalism that was emanating from it, to which she was involuntarily responding at an ever increasing rate at core level – it came to her that, far from being alien, every man on earth sported the same equipment just like every woman had a ‘ridiculous hole in her center,’ as Joyce put it, that offered a perfect fit and if that wasn’t so there’d be no men nor women alive and she wouldn’t be here, examining the one that was all too obviously raring to be allowed to fulfill its role while having one of the other kind that was, seemingly and sadly, incapable of playing its part in the general scheme of things.
While still deploring the inherent unfairness of it all it came to her that this was it – there was nothing else out there and never would be – and so, by not participating in what there is, she was short-changing herself inexcusably and stupidly. Resignedly, she determined to do whatever it took to be able to rectify that and play her full part in life’s cycles and that meant doing it here and now or, most likely, settle for never.
She moved back up in the bed and told Ben what she’d decided and then, deferring to his expertise, she asked him if he could think of something that they hadn’t yet tried that might get it done, “Like coordinating our strengths somehow?”
He thought it over for a minute and then, tentatively, suggested that they could try to help gravity and his thrusting by both of them grabbing the other one’s buttocks and pulling on them at the exact same time that he exerted all possible pressure by easing back a little and then thrusting at her with all his strength as she was lifting her hips to meet him.
He said, “That will almost certainly be successful but I didn’t ask you to try it before because the pain that such brutality will cause you will be close to insufferable. Also, believe me, you will bleed profusely.”
In answer she added another towel and then turned onto her back and then spread her legs as wide as they’d go and waited.
It worked very well indeed but being forewarned didn’t help her at all as far as meeting the pain was concerned.
Her hands went from pulling at him to pushing at him as she screamed to get him to stop moving because, as is obvious, his in-strokes and his withdrawals affected her poor, torn-in-three-places membrane in the exact same way.
He didn’t stop.
He couldn’t stop because, as will be obvious to all men, two or three hours of unrelenting need had put him far beyond going into the stopping mode and that, combined with the fact that he’d gone through a long hiatus, was completely overwhelming his control mode.
Luckily for her the same pent-up force that had driven him to get it done in the shortest possible time was the same force that got him to finish after only a half dozen or so strokes and he came with such intensity that he knew that for the rest of his life he’d never forget it.
He got off her and hurried, as best he could, to the bathroom again to check out what he had in the way of medical supplies and, after washing himself, he took it all to her.
A few minutes after she’d swallowed two Advil tablets her crying changed down a peg until she was just whimpering and that meant that he could then go and get more towels, both wet and dry, and he replaced the blood soaked ones that were under her and then he washed and dried her, gingerly, and then, also very gently, he applied some salve and then he fashioned a diaper with another towel.
When, at last, she went to sleep in his arms whimpers were still escaping from her with her every exhalation.
The next morning she was reminded about her predicament a second after she tried to straighten out her legs.
More Advil tablets were administered but she knew that she wouldn’t be able to show up for her rehearsal at eleven nor for the concert that was scheduled for the early evening so – when he’d helped her to the bathroom and back, and had brought her coffee and a warm Danish – she asked him to bring her the phone.
She insisted that he leave her and go off to work because she’d remembered that he’d told her, the day before, that this was going to be an important day for him in his office.
When she’d eaten she called her boss, the Director – whose name was Valery de Wicdivigny but every one called him, only from far, far behind his back, ‘Val the Wickdipper’ – at his home to tell him that he would have to find a substitute for her because she couldn’t make it due to a sudden ‘illness.’
They were old friends and so hearing that caused him genuine concern so he asked what was her problem.
Because of their being old friends he knew her personal history well – down to knowing, somehow, without being told, that she’d never been with a man. His knowing that had astonished her, when he’d first mentioned it in passing, but not for long because she soon found out that he was an out-and-out goat in that although he was married to a wonderful, slightly underweight woman, named Eleanor and had a fulltime, slightly overweight mistress, who he fully and openly supported, named Molly Brightwater, even so, he had never been alone with a young woman for long before propositioning her and his position saw to it that there were lots of them every week and, even though most of them knew about his reputation, advancing their careers was often their paramount concern and so – he’d gleefully pull out his trundle bed and, uh, give her an audition. Because of all that she found it unnecessary to bother with lying to him so she, shyly and somewhat proudly, confessed to having found a boyfriend, named Ben, and that they’d slept together the night before . . . “and so . . . . uh, that’s why I can’t come to work. I can hardly get out of bed.”
He let out a whoop of delight at the news of her having a boyfriend and he told her that he was happy for her and asked her if he knew this ‘Ben’ guy and what instrument did he play and for what orchestra.
On being told that, “He’s not a musician but he loves everything to do with music and is very knowledgeable about it,” the great man grunted in disbelief and disapproval but then, making an attempt to be polite, he rallied and said, not very convincingly, “Well, nobody’s perfect, I suppose. Uh, when are we going to met him?”
Before she could reply to that her statement about her immediate circumstances clicked into place for him. He’d put one and one together and had gotten one and so he whooped again and then said, “Oh, last night you say! Oh, you poor darling, was it really bad for . . . uh, sorry, it must have been, of course, seeing how . . . uh, seeing that otherwise you wouldn’t have to stay home. Well congratulations, Jean dear, although I must confess that I’m very jealous of this Ben guy.
“Well, I want you to know that your, uh, injury will heal in a very short time and from then on every time that you do it the scoring will be –
PAIN —- ZERO
PLEASURE —- ONE HUNDRED
– and one hundred is all that there is outside of heaven.
“Take it from me – I can promise you that. Uh, it will take some time – uh, let’s see . . . the rest of today and tonight and then most of tomorrow, I’d say, and so, uh, around late afternoon tomorrow you’ll be right as rain again. After that . . look-out! Stand back!
“Oh, uh, one more thing, Jean dear, I’ve got some more advice for you. Both of you should take time off from work and see to it that you get plenty of rest and plenty of nourishing food in the mean time, that is, while you’re healing. That’s essential, believe me. As I said, it will take nearly two days for that to happen and if you neglect to build up your strength before then it will be too late and you’ll lose out on getting some lovely loving. Do you understand me?”
“Oh dear. I don’t want to ask this but – why is it so important? We’re both reasonably fit.”
“Why? Why is it important? Because when you’ve fully healed and you want to start getting, uh, getting to know everything about each other you’ll need to be well rested and have lots of energy stored up that can be called on when – uh – when it’s needed because, believe me, you’ll get precious little of either when you find out how good it is! Eating and drinking will take a poor second to getting on with it and sleeping will be out of the question. There’s nothing else out there that comes even close, believe me.”
They chatted some more and then, after agreeing on who would be the best choices for her temporary replacement, he rang off and she read the paper and dozed and, applied more salve, and she made no attempt to get out of bed until she heard Ben’s key in the lock.
When she’d greeted him with a kiss, to allay any possible guilty feelings that he might be holding, he then he asked how she was and she replied, “Well put it this way. This robe of yours that I’m wearing can only be opened at the top. Down to here. See?”
“Ah, thank you. Your body is really beautiful and it’s a delight to look at but please cover them, uh, cover it up again. Just seeing it is making me react and if I can’t . . . . . ”
“Oh, you poor dear. Of course. How insensitive of me. Kissing is out too?”
“ ‘Fraid so. Let’s not get even close enough to touch, please.”
“Done. Oh! You’ll be pleased to hear that I have it on good authority that by the time you get home tomorrow night I’ll be, uh, all well.”
“Ha! Now that’s what I call good news.”
He put together a meal of minute steaks and Julia’s favorite vegetable, which is French green beans, and he also made her brown sauce which, as always, took him longer to prepare than the rest of the meal combined. They ate it with the baguette that he’d brought home and with his house red. They tried, and nearly succeeded, to converse like an old married couple.
He slept on the couch that night.
When she woke up in the morning he’d already left and there was a note from him on the side table that said, “You looked so peaceful that I didn’t want to wake you. The coffee machine is all set up so you only have to push the ‘On’ button. Likewise, there’s a Danish in the microwave – give it thirty seconds. I sure do hope that your, ‘Good authority,’ knows what she’s talking about! Much love, Ben.”
She got out of bed, with apprehension, and found that that the soreness had almost gone and when she was in the bathroom a probing finger had to search to cause any pain and even then it was only a little.
She was happy about it but also annoyed with Val the Wickdipper. How dare he know her body better than she did.
When Ben got home she greeted him with a radiant smile and then a meaningful kiss, which told him the good news, and so she didn’t have to use any words but she did anyway because she’d rehearsed them.
“You’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve solved the problem regarding this robe. I now know how to open it all the way down. Look. Like this.”
It so happened that it was a Friday night when that happened and so they could, and did, throw the rules out of the window and they disconnected the phone and indulged themselves by going on voyages of discovery on what was left of the Friday and all of Saturday and Sunday.
She told him, several times, that she’d never be able to forget what a fool she’d been to deny herself, “All of this wonder upon wonder,” for so long.
An hour after Ben had, very reluctantly, left for work on the Monday morning – there was no way that he could take time off because of ongoing, delicate negotiations – the Director called her and he knew that his prognosis had been accurate because the second that she said, “Hello?” the ebullience that was evident in the single word came at him through the wires and told him, and the world, that she was a content, fully satisfied woman.
“ ‘Hello’ right back at you darling. Ha! I told you, didn’t I? Did I call it right or not? There’s nothing better in the world, right? Now please tell me why oh why did you wait so long? If God has come with anything better he’s been keeping it to himself. Correct?”
She was reluctant to banter words with him about her newly discovered world of all-encompassing sensuality because she sensed that it’s newness made it fragile and so it could be easily bruised and diminished if she allowed an outsider to get too close to it so she told him that but the irrepressible, bubbling-over gaiety that came across in her voice made it obvious that she fully agreed with his last statement.
They talked about her replacement’s performance and schedules, and so on, but then he told that he wanted to ask her something that was very important to him.
“The thing is that, seeing as how you’ve – uh – changed your circumstances I’d like you to do me a favor. Well, let me explain my case to you first. This is it – you’ll no doubt find it hard to believe but I’m seriously thinking about cutting way back on my – uh – extra-curricular amorous pursuits of young ladies.
“Yes, you heard right. I’m getting too old for this so I want to try being faithful to Eleanor and Molly.
“But first, as you’ll now no doubt readily agree, I can hardly be expected to do that under present circumstances because both Eleanor and Molly are getting to be – uh – a bit indolent – let’s say that they’re no longer showing a sufficient amount of enthusiasm between the sheets for my taste – and so, before I commit myself to the drastic change in my life that I’ve just mentioned, I want to see if I can bring them to their senses and get them to remember their – uh – their duty to me.
“So, this is what I’d like you to do for me: Uh, my word Jean, I’ve been waiting on tenterhooks all weekend to find out if you found – uh – let’s say ‘bliss’ in your new relationship and, praise the Good Lord, you did.
“Well, seeing that that’s what happened I’d like your permission to book a small hall that I know that has good acoustics. It is on Tenth and Forty Seventh Street. It’s available this Wednesday and Thursday but I have to book it this morning to secure it.
“Well, now we come to the crux of the matter – I’m asking you to please tell me which of those two days is best for you to bring your quartet and give a concert in my little hall? Why the haste, you’re going to ask? Well the thing of it is that this very day would be best for it because you’re close to the height of your ebullience and thus your effectiveness in my cause but I know that I must be reasonable about it so, how about it? Is to be on Wednesday or Thursday? Oh, uh, if you agree I’ll do some heavy advertising and I’ll contact everyone I know on Facebook, etc. What do you say, Jean darling? Please say ‘Yes.’ ”
“My word Valery, such short notice, but it so happens that we’ve been practicing for weeks now for a new concert that we’re giving in Toronto and so this would be ideal for us as a try out. As for the exact day, I’ll have to do some phoning to coordinate things so let me call you back in an hour or two. Yes?”
“Yes, indeed. Uh, Jean darling, before I let you go to do your coordinating I want you to know that I’ll be forever in your debt anyway but there’s one more thing that I’d like you to do for me. It goes without saying that you have, of course, carte-blanche with the selection of the pieces that you’re going to play but I promise to buy every empty seat in the entire house if you promise to see to it that the last one has a long section of viola solo in it.”