It’s lunchtime on a Saturday. The family, or most of us, are sitting at the table. My mamá and papá talk about work. My papá says, “I have a ticket for tomorrow’s concert with the Philharmonic at the Degollado Theater. Does anyone want to go?”
All are quiet.
I raise my hand and tell him that I would like to go. “Well Martin, so we leave at one thirty, “ he tells me. It will be the first time that I am going to see my papá at work. Since I can remember he has played the French horn there. Sometimes I hear him practice the French horn and sometimes the trumpet because he also plays in an orchestra for parties but I can’t imagine what my papá sounds and looks like working in the theater. I’ll see tomorrow but now I am going to go out for a while. The boys are playing football.
I sit on the sidewalk and watch them. Then they sit down with me to talk. One of them says that his father finally got a job in a furniture factory. They were having a hard time. Another says that his father applied to the municipal police. He hopes they will accept him because they earn well. Andres asks me, “What does your papá do for a living? Sometimes I see him with a briefcase or something like that.”
“It is his french horn or trumpet case. My papá is a musician” I reply. “For playing an instrument, he gets paid?” he says with a mocking face. “I think so, otherwise how else would he buy food?” I answer.
“I’m going to go home, I’ll see you later,” I say goodbye, annoyed by the comment.
It’s already Sunday, so I’m getting ready to take a shower. I put a packet of wood in the boiler to heat the water and then I’m going to look for what clothes to wear for this occasion.
Now, I am clean and ready. My mamá checks my hair and clothes and tells me, “you behave well, stay close to your papá and be careful when crossing the streets.”
“Yes mamá,” I answer.
At the door my papá is waiting, dressed in black pants with a sort of black satin ribbon on each side, a white shirt with silver square cufflinks, and on his arm a black jacket and a white bow. We went out and I help him with the jacket. He carries the French horn in its case. The neighbors say hello, “Good afternoon, Don Pancho.” Some ladies say, “You look so handsome, Don Pancho, where you going?” My papá answers, “To work. Well, have a nice day. Thank you.”
We walk since the theater is about twelve blocks from the house. We don’t talk the whole way, that’s my papá, he barely speaks.
I try to imagine what the concert will be like but I have no idea.
Arriving at the theater, my dad greets the people who are there. He tells me to go to one of the doors and they will show me where my seat is, so I do that. A lady takes my ticket and escorts me to my seat. Little by little the theater begins to fill up. It is a large place with many gold decorations, an eagle on the top of the stage holding a chain and big red curtains to prevent seeing the stage.
When everything seems to be full, a voice is heard “Third call, we begin.” The red curtains move to the sides. There are many chairs where the musicians with their instruments begin to sit in their places When the director appears everyone applauds.
The music begins and little by little it envelops everyone. I feel like watching a movie only that the images are provided by me. There is a moment when I can hear my dad more clearly than the others as if he were playing alone. I think of applauding but no one does so I don’t. When the music ends, the conductor turns to us and bows. He points to the violinist in the first row and then points to my papá. At the end he asks the entire orchestra to stand up and together they bow.
On my way to the hall, I look for my papá. He comes walking and talking with his bandmates. The lobby is a large hall with pillars and a glass dome on the high ceiling. Through the windows you can see the Plaza de la Liberación, the enormous fountains and the back of the cathedral. It’s a very nice place.
“It’s time to go home,” my papá tells me. As always there is no conversation, quiet. This time, my papá with his jacket on, stops and lights a cigarette.
I think about what my friends say about the work of their parents, the tools, the grease, the sawdust, the dust. Then I look at mine in his formal suit, and all the applause. It’s a nice feeling. I was for a moment in another world.
When we are close to our barrio I ask him, “Can I carry the french horn?” He looks at me strangely, “Of course,” he tells me, handing me the case.
Walking next to my papá in the barrio gives me a feeling that is difficult to explain. It’s like I just met a famous and talented man who I can thankfully call papá.
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