Half past eight struck on the clock, but Claudia didn’t turn up. Every minute that passed gave me a reminder of my friend’s notorious unpunctuality. I watched anxiously from the window for any sign of her car. I pricked up my ears every time I could hear the drone of an engine come near and stop as the car edged into a parking space, but it was always different cars. I thought about going down and meet her on her way, but my sense of pride made me decide otherwise.
It was already a quarter to nine by the time the bell finally rang. I dashed down the stairs to meet Claudia, who appeared to be in a flutter and probably expected to face my sulks. But this time I did as if nothing was wrong, I kissed her hello and we got moving. I just hinted I was utterly pessimistic about finding a space near enough with so little time on our hands. There were just a handful of minutes until the beginning of the show and I expected the centre to be congested with cars. As a rule it is so when a performance is on and a large number of spectators go by car.
Contrary to all odds, we’d hardly turned into a parking site when we saw a free space so we swiftly slid into it. We seemed to have a good star on our side I was so relieved that I gave a coin to the illegal parkman who was standing next to my door as if he had ceded us his personal right to occupy his own space.
Two minutes later we were crossing the theatre threshold. I handed my tickets to the usher and asked him to direct us to our box. Pointing to the stairs, he said “Second tier, box number six”. I was just beginning to breathe after the last half hour of high tension, but I hadn’t failed to notice something weird. The theatre hall was deserted and yet, it was only nine on the dot. I thought the performance must be about to kick off.
Going up the stairs I convinced myself it must really be so, as there was absolutely nobody hanging around. Come to box number six, I turned the handle and stepped into the darkness. Beyond the balustrade, the stage was floodlit and the actors were already performing. It looked as if they’d been doing so for quite a while, judging by the concentration of the audience.
It dawned upon me I had a wrong starting time, but this was not all. That box was already occupied and the man sitting at the front, alarmed by my intrusion, was demanding an explanation as to my intentions. I was sure I was at box number 6, so I handed him the tickets to prove my right to be there. Peering in the dim light he inspected them and concluded: “The tier above!”
I just had time to sneak back out into the corridor and I doubled up with laughter. Not only had I put my foot in it coming half an hour later, but I’d also entered the wrong box. With hindsight it was really a stroke of luck I didn’t get upset about my friend arriving late.
It was a comedy we watched that night, but every circumstance had concurred to make it more fun than just the show.