Isabella is curious about my early training as an opera singer, an expense my parents incurred without return. The career did not stick, due to gross lack of ambition on my part, and my incompatibly with lofty heights.
“Sing for me, Ma,” she’ll say, as we drive down the highway. I gently fill the space with the sounds and lyrics I recall from Italian and French arias, my memory dulled by time, but my voice surprisingly willing and able.
Last night Isabella brought out her hamster, who was doing his own theater by hanging from the ceiling of his cage and then racing around the house in a small plastic ball that allowed mobility. Bella needed to finish her homework, so I sat and waited. “Done!” she announced, slamming her notebook closed. “Now what shall we do?” I had run out of ideas.
“Sing for me, Ma. Sing the way you would sing in a concert hall with a thousand people, so everyone could hear you.”
“Even the folks in the back row?” I asked. Isabella nestled her hamster against her chest.
“Especially the ones in the back row,” she challenged.
I stood, pretending elegance and importance, as if performing for the queen. When the room was hushed, I issued forth a very loud version of nothing in particular, having mustered all the volume and range I could find, ending with a piercingly high note. Quite satisfied with myself, I sat down.
Isabella looked at me in disbelief. “I think you just killed my hamster.”