A couple of weeks ago my husband surprised me with tickets to Carmen at Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Performed by the Vancouver Opera in French, with English subtitles, it was an altogether classy affair, of which we missed half the first act.
“You’re not going to make it! You’re not going to make it!” Panted our usher as she ran us across the theatre and up the stairs; handing us over to an impossibly more upset usher. "It's too late! It's too late!" she chastised. "There's nothing I can do!"
“Can’t you please let us in?” Tameem asked. “It hasn’t even started.”
“I’m not letting you in” she said, with all the finality of a parking warden who has already issued the ticket. “I’ll lose my job!”
“I thought they were all volunteers,” I said to Tameem, from our comfy seats in the lobby. Watching the curtain rise on a television screen showing a pixelated red and orange performance. "Do they actually fire volunteers?"
“Well, I’d rather be out here with you, than in there without you,” he said. Smooth.
Once inside the theatre all was well. Back in the lobby for the first intermission all the ladies queued for the washroom; forming a polite snake all the way to bar.
The second and third intermission were a repeat of the first. The men breezed in and out of the men's, while the women (mostly unsuccessfully) queued for the women's.
"Guys don't care if women use the men's washroom," my husband said. Handing me my glass of wine in the lineup for the women's.
“Why are we so slow?” I said. Accepting my fate, twenty minutes away from the stalls and five from that oppressive back to your seats bell.
“It’s because of our clothing,” said the woman in front of me. Her name was Elizabeth, like the theatre. “More adjustments to make," she concluded.
Elizabeth wore a sensible calf-length black skirt, white shirt and black suit jacket. Her hair was curly and cut short; I don't recall but I imagine sensible earrings.
“You’re not going to make it,” my husband said, like the usher, so I handed him my wine and plunged into the men's bathroom.
I was expecting it to be empty. Just a lot of swinging stall doors like a Western, but there was a small line along the inside wall and he was wrong about them not caring at all.
I joined the queue and stared at the wall and Elizabeth appeared behind me.
“I saw you come in here and I thought, she needs some solidarity in there!” she said.
"We are at Carmen," I said. Underestimating Elizabeth.
“Exactly!" she shrieked. "What would Carmen do?” Our voices carried like gunshot.
“They take longer than the women!” Elizabeth bellowed, which made the men hustle, stalls bang and a man farted, which was awkward, but I made it.