I was always excited when my guests and I took our seats in a performance hall
before a theatrical production. The audience would be buzzing with anticipation,
the atmosphere practically crackling as curtain time approached. The curtain itself
was an icon of promise, an insinuation that there was something special behind it.
I relished the moment when the house lights slowly dimmed, calling the audience
to a state of heed.
Toward the end of the first act, when Tevye began to sing the evocative “Sunrise,
Sunset,” I felt an ardency within me. I’d seen “Fiddler” with Liesl the child, but the
poignant relevance of the lyrics had escaped me then, as I enjoyed the luxury of the
company of a dependent, ten-year-old loved one. Now the loved one was a twenty-
one-year-old, independent woman who was sitting next to another man, a man, I
suspected, she loved.
Tevye and Golde showed no mercy.
"Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?"
I was grateful, still drawing a blank as to whom or what, that there was another song,
the vivacious “Bottle Dance,” before intermission, offering me a chance to recompose.
Only Justine seemed to notice I was wiping my eyes. She wrapped my left hand in both
At dinner later that night, on the riverfront patio of El Rascal’s, I proposed a toast Tevye
had taught me. “Here’s to our prosperity, our good health and happiness. And most
important, to life, to life.”