Nov 2
Cruise to Jaffa, a night at the opera

I would consider Cruise to Jaffa an odd name for an opera if I had not heard it so often that it more resembles the one word as opposed to three in my mind. Crooztojaffa is all I hear now. Like, for those of you who know of it, do you think of it as Marriage of Figaro in your mind, or is it just a name and you very rarely think of the words’ significance? I mean they are in Italian or sometimes German for heaven’s sake! Am I expected to understand what is going on? 
    I have instead found that the stories are indeed interesting, but that looking at the audience as they view the opera is so much more interesting. And many times I have found that I am not the only one who thinks that way, catching someone every now and again sending a curious eye over towards my dad or someone seated next to us. The way the stage and seating is set up readily gives to this sort of experience, I think. The theatre is usually a bowl with seating not just at the bottom but boxes are positioned along the walls as well, so that no matter where you sit you can see everyone.
    I have anticipated this moment all day. I lounged about the house, tapping my feet or rocking in a chair for many hours before we decided to go out to eat before the show. We put on our clothes and dined at a fine restaurant along the Corridor, the longest unbroken section of the station. 
    I ordered bronzino and my dad ordered a chopped salad. We ate the special meal with eagerness. It isn't every day I get to eat so lavishly as we do today, which is also why I like the days when there is an opera. The meal was delicious. We then headed over to the opera.
    So that’s where I am now, having just entered the entrance room to the theater. The theater sits in the middle of the station because it is the center of high society, and only those of high rank live on this station. The theater is rearranged and redecorated based not only on what type of performance is shown but also what the theme of the production is. For instance the interior today is Viennese rococo, resembling both the opulence and modesty of mother-of-pearl. Cherubim in platinum play with each other and strum harps. Meda-llions of flowers and leaves in the same platinum color fill every inch of the ceiling and walls so that there is no blank area, not even in the corners, which have been smoothed down by the decorations. 
    I see Lady Berkley heading our way amidst the large crowd. She is our sponsor and the life of the party at every event. She embraces me and then gives her hand for dad to kiss. She is dressed extravagantly, precisely as the robot said, in a white and lavender gown and a cascade of blonde gold necklaces. Dad kisses her hand.
    “Good to see you enjoying yourself, Lady Berkley!”  he compliments. “You are so generous with your friendship, it would be a crime if you don’t get some in return.”
    She blushes. I would be worried except I don’t think dad is interested in her on account of her personality  and age. She isn’t that much older, but her effervescence must seem contrived to him. He is far too genuine for her. Lady Berkley turns and gestures for a girl my age to come to her side.
    “Have you met Amanda?” she asks. “You simply must meet her, for she is positively prodigious!”
    Other than a high forehead and a fair complexion, the girl looks quite average: brown hair, brown eyes, lightly-tanned skin. And then her dress! It is a cute little thing that almost mirrors my own, with the exception of a cute little hem that runs along the back and without my add-ition of flowers. Lady Berkley also notices the similarities in our dress.
    “Positively marvelous! You two almost look like twins. You must be best friends, I insist,” she insists.
    “Charmed, young lady,” my dad bows.
    I curtsy in turn. She curtsies back. Dad then excuses himself to find his friends among the crowd. He imme-diately joins up with the raucous group of men who en-joy a game or two before each show. 
    “Good heavens, Gila! Whatever are you wearing?” I hear them laugh.
    “Amanda has just moved to our station and is under my tutelage. She has lately been sponsored in many sec-tors of the galaxy, followed in every step on account of her prodigious intellect,” Lady Berkley gushes.
    “Please. I am not that amazing!” she blushes. 
    She grabs my arm and pulls me away.
    “I can’t tell you how happy I am to see another girl my age,” she admits, “That is really the object of my family’s many moves. My parents have been anxious to find me a friend. Not that you have to be my friend . . . ”
    “Your dress is lovely, Amanda,” I compliment, “Where have you lived?”
    “Thanks!” she exclaims, “I was born in Virginia, but I’ve lived on Venus, Khale, Origin, and now Fith,” then she whispers, “Don’t tell anyone this, but we just recently en-tered the high-class. We just came from one of the lower stations here on Fith.”
    “Congratulations!” I say, “Khale is what type of colony? I don’t quite remember where that is.”
    “Well it’s one of those new international colonies like Fith, named so that it doesn’t sound like anything Ter-ran. It is the only livable planet in the Draco sector; that is why you may not have heard much about it. Although the Draco sector is beautiful to look at, it is all the cos-mic clouds which give it shape that make the whole sec-tor rather inhospitable. The eyes of the dragon to this day still form new stars, kind of like active volcanoes in outer space,” she explains.
    “I thought since you mentioned Origin that Khale might be an alien settlement. That must have been an entirely different experience, living on Origin,” I prod for more in-formation.
    “Did I say we lived on Origin? I meant we lived in one of the stations in geosynchronous orbit around Origin. It was, well still is, very much a diplomatic station. Sev-eral tradesmen had set up their businesses there and were happily engaged in economic intercourse with the Elites, but I myself did not engage with the local inhab-itants very much. You know when you meet new anim-als on Earth, you can be assured that you are the most intelligent creature in such an encounter, but with the Elites and Superiors, it isn’t so sure is it?” she asks.
    Before I can ask her for more news on the aliens, we are called to enter the theater and take our seats. Amanda curtsies curtly once again and joins her darling parents before the red velvet stairs. I catch my dad as he exits from the billiards room. 
    “Jean plays a devilish hand of poker,” he laughs, “Thank goodness I always insist it be a friendly game, otherwise I would lose a good penny to the chap.”
    We sit in our box, and then I realize Amanda and her parents have the box directly opposite us. She gives me a little wave. The lights dim in the room and the curtain opens up to a single performer. The woman begins to sing about how dreadful it is to take a cruise for her hus-band’s work. Or so say the subtitles. 
    “You know she may jeopardize our standing here on the station,” dad whispers.
    The husband enters and sings eloquently about how he must do his work and that he doesn’t want to risk being tempted to stray from her and weaken their mar-riage while away. She interjects randomly to sing she wants to go on a cruise alone with him and to say that she goes on work trips without him often and isn’t ex-pected to stray from him. Then he sings he would go on her work cruises had she asked. He eventually con-vinces her and they enter the ship with a stirring full ensemble piece.
    “I wouldn’t worry too much about it, but I wonder if Lady Berkley truly has the leverage to host two prodi-gies herself,” dad interrupts.
    The husband quickly and secretly falls for a young maiden anyway. After singing his affection for the young maiden, she sings that she is traveling to Jaffa to study the alien science and is not the least interested in love. At the same time the wife falls for the young maiden’s secret admirer, a young man forced to join the penal colony set up deep in the asteroid field of Lower Hampton.
    “You could marry her and then we wouldn’t have to worry at all,” I suggest.
    The young man sends the young maiden secret let-ters declaring his affections for her. The young woman, alone in her quarters, eventually swears everlasting love to the author of the letters, assuming the letters were penned by the husband.
    “She likes you enough that if you wooed her she’d say yes. Then it wouldn’t be a problem anymore,” I argue.
    The wife discovers the young man leaving the secret letters and confronts him. The husband intervenes, un-knowing the scuffle is about returning the young man’s affections to his wife or that the letters are being sent to the young maiden. He immediately joins his wife’s side in the argument, saying it is not allowed for a prisoner to engage in such illicit communiqué. 
    “Amanda would get our patronage and anything I did would be considered a luxury as opposed to a necess-ity,” I conclude.
    During the scuffle, the wife regains her love for her husband because of his violent defense of her witness, but she realizes he does not love her back. The young man is sentenced under maritime law to spend the rem-ainder of the voyage in the brig. The young woman begs the husband to leave his wife and marry her while the wife watches, hidden. The husband is at first entranced by the young woman’s tenacity, but is disenchanted when he realizes it is because she thinks he wrote her secret letters of love. 
    “That’s true,” dad chuckles, “No one is in the market of hosting the strange duality of old news and budding intellect that is you and me, except Lady Berkley.”
    After rebuffing the young woman’s affections, the husband is confronted by the wife and forced to give an oath of everlasting love to her forevermore. She is ecsta-tic and sings how they should go on a cruise alone, which he agrees. They decide together to help the young lovers and draft an order for the nullification of the young mans’ sentences. They then deliver the order to the gua-rd just as the young couple declare their eternal love and the young woman promises to follow him into the deep confines of the asteroid field. The opera ends with a powerful number from the entire cast and an amazing visual display complete with mobile backdrop and cho-reography.