That following Saturday, a few days after Zach and Charlie purchased their shop, Zach was in his bedroom fixing his bow tie in the mirror. He chose the room downstairs across from the bathroom just before the kitchen to use as his bedroom. He didn’t like climbing stairs since his knees ached, which was common with dwarfs. He was also getting older, which didn’t help. He led an active life as a clown in the carnival and now his knees were paying for it.
Charlie stood in the hallway outside Zach’s room. He was also wearing a tuxedo. He had a frustrated look on his face. “Can you please help me with this darn thing?” he asked as his bow tie hung loose around his neck.
“Yeah, hold on a sec, it’s a little tricky,” Zach said as he finished up tying the knot on his bow tie. “Okay, have a seat. It’s easier doing it on yourself, everything’s gonna be backwards now.” He tried to figure out how to tie Charlie’s bow tie facing the opposite direction, but it was more difficult than he thought. Then an idea came to him. He climbed on the bed and got behind Charlie and began working on his bow tie as they both faced the mirror.
“Zach, ... um ... suppose a man was interested in a woman, what would be the best way to let her know?”
“Well, I suppose if the man was really interested in the woman, he would just ask her out on a date.” Zach smiled as he finished Charlie’s knot. “Maybe invite Ms. Betty out to dinner, or a movie.”
Charlie became stunned and embarrassed.
“Don’t be embarrassed, she’s an attractive woman.”
“I’ve never been on a date with a woman before,” Charlie said. “You think she’d go out with me?”
“Sure, I seen the way she smiled at you the first day we were at the shop. I think if you asked her out she’d be happy to go out with you.”
“You really think so?” Charlie asked.
“Sure, you remember when Schneider was barking orders at her? She still managed to smile at you, right?”
Charlie thought about what Zach said for a moment and then a smile stretched across his face.
“So, when are you gonna ask her out?” Zach asked.
Suddenly Charlie’s smile disappeared. “I don’t know what to say to her,” he said. “I don’t even know where I’d take her if we did go on a date.”
“Charlie, you’re missing the point,” Zach said. “When two people like each other, it don’t matter where you go. As long as you’re together is what matters. Sure, you’re not gonna take her to a bar with drunken sailors, but spending time together, and getting to know each other better, that’s the goal.”
“Yeah, but what do I say to her?”
“What do you mean, on the date?”
“No, to ask her out,” Charlie said.
“Just ask her if she’d like to go out sometime,” Zach said it as though he was well experienced. “She likes you. You just need a little confidence in yourself, that’s all.”
“How do you know so much about this stuff?”
“Lots of books and movies, my friend.”
“Books and movies, really?” Charlie asked.
“Yeah, you gotta think like ... what would Cary Grant, or Errol Flynn say or do?”
“Cary Grant ... hmm, ya really think it’ll work?” Charlie asked.
“Sure,” Zach said. “I’ll take you to see a Cary Grant movie if you want and you can see for yourself.” He checked his watch. “C’mon, we don’t want to be late for the opera.”
The San Francisco Civic Auditorium was crowded when Zach and Charlie arrived. Everyone there was excited because it was the debut of the opera called Turandot. Although it was an Italian opera, the word Turandot was a Persian word and name meaning “the daughter of Turan.” Princess Turandot was played by the famous singer/actress Anna May Wong.
The opera had three acts written by Giacomo Puccini, set to a libretto in Italian. The story, set in China, involves prince Calaf who falls in love with the cold princess, Turandot. To obtain permission to marry her, a suitor has to solve three riddles; any false answer results in death. Calaf passes the test, but Turandot still hesitates to marry him. He offers her a way out, and he agrees to die should she be able to guess his real name.
Zach thought the opera’s plot was thrilling and was eager to see it. Charlie didn’t know what to expect. He wondered how he would understand it since it was all in Italian.
After a few minutes, they found their seats in a balcony directly across from the stage. Charlie was impressed with the theater’s size and beauty. The decor was rich and ornate. Everyone there was well dressed, which made Charlie glad he went along with wearing a tuxedo like all the other men. All the women were wearing glamorous evening gowns with long gloves. Some wore mink stoles over their gowns while other women wore mink capes.
The opera was a far cry from the juke joint in Mississippi where Charlie was hired to make repairs from time-to-time. One evening after Charlie finished making repairs for the owner, he stuck around and listened to the artists performing. Blues music was the only music, besides Gospel that Charlie was accustomed to. Most of the singing he heard were either in the cotton fields or juke joints, not in elegant buildings filled with wealthy aristocrats wearing tuxedos, gowns, and minks.
Charlie was impressed with the opera. The story wasn’t too difficult to follow as he initially thought it would be. As the final act opened, the tenor mesmerized the audience. The aria was Nessun Dorma. In the story, heralds call out Turandot’s command: Cosi comanda Turandot – This night, none shall sleep in Peking! The penalty for all will be death if the Prince’s name is not discovered by morning. The Prince waits for dawn and anticipates his victory and sings: Nessun dorma – Nobody shall sleep! Even you, O Princess.
When the opera ended, the audience gave it a standing ovation. Zach glanced at Charlie and smiled. He was glad to see that Charlie was moved and had appeared to have enjoyed himself.