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I WOULD HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH HER, had I been a gentleman.

One falls in love with the least expected trifles—the way someone asks a question, or lights a cigarette, or simply the quick, guilty, almost suicidal gesture of a cellist bending down to pick up a bow she had dropped on the floor.

Something like this happened to a cellist in front of a gilded hall a few days ago, halfway through a concert. It was clear that she was a fine, conscientious person. I could tell by where she was seated among the other musicians, and the way she followed the conductor—a tall, handsome man who always gives the impression of having just stepped out of the shower. She was attentive to his smallest gestures—every motion—whether directed to her or to others, including the violins, the oboes and the singers. (There were singers that night.)

This is how great passions begin. Musicians in a symphony orchestra are always so full of mystery and inspire such fascination that it is not a good idea to run into them at the supermarket. I prefer to look away whenever that happens. I cannot bear to see a first violinist squeezing the papayas; nor can I conceive of the possibility that a harpist, a being attuned to the harmonies of heaven, would shake an avocado and listen for the seeds. Yet, I have seen exquisitely refined performers hesitate in front of a freezer and finally choose Häagen Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip. Can you imagine a French horn player eating ice cream at midnight?

As a child, I sometimes fell for musicians. Once I was in love with a Transylvanian violinist—from Romania, or thereabouts. My best friend at the time, who had the hopeless name of Ninfa, fell in love too, but with a pianist. We were both about twelve years old, and Ninfa’s uncle, the great writer Virgilio Piñera, would hold our hands on the way to concerts, unaware of our little crushes—love that went in one direction only, given that neither the Transylvanian violinist or the pianist ever had any idea of our longings.

What’s more, they both married women who played in the same orchestra. The Transylvanian fell in love with a Polish girl, a svelte violinist with a name full of consonants—Wojtyla raised them, brought them together and made them sweethearts. They were fiancées one season and during intermissions they were like lovebirds, sitting in an empty box and gazing at each other with their mouths watering, as only a son of Transylvania and a daughter of Warsaw can do.

When we went to the first concert the next season, she was already pregnant. The andantes con brio made her nauseous, but she persevered, Saturday after Saturday, dressed entirely in black, playing like a goddess until her labor pains began.

That is another thing I never think about. I would rather not know that symphony orchestra musicians have their own lives: they get married, they get unmarried; they have children, take their clothes to the laundry, and take out the garbage at night…

It seems that deep down I have the very antiquated, absurd idea that people who play such marvelous music are not entirely of this world. Nothing depresses me more than staying in the parking lot too long after a concert and seeing musicians look for their cars. One expects them to linger inside for a while until they emerge from their trance. But some of them rush out, loosening their shirt collars; and before they have even got Sibelius out of their system, they are honking at the others to get moving.Can anyone imagine an English horn player honking his car horn in the middle of a parking lot?

That is why when the cellist dropped her bow the other day I thought that if I had been a man, I would have sent her flowers immediately. It happened when the music had become slow, as if everyone was playing on tiptoe, so that the little thump, the upsetting sound of a bow bouncing on the floor, felt more intense.

After a moment of terror, she withstood the shower of glances and apologized to the conductor with a gesture toward the podium, something sweet and melting; as if an angel were saying I’m sorry. Then she picked up her bow and kept on playing.

Later I asked myself if the conductor would say anything to her afterwards. I do not know if conductors say things like Make sure you are more careful next time or Stay after the concert to play one hundred arpeggios or Don’t distract me, Madame. A conductor with his looks must say, Madame.

Maybe he said nothing; maybe the incident pleased him. And since he is certainly a gentleman, perhaps he sent her flowers.

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