Awe Man...
Off The Wall, Oct 01, 2010

Marvin and Stella Zachmann always wanted to introduce their sixteen year-old son, Seth, to a bit of culture, but their rebellious teenager always put up a bit of a tiff every time they invited him to go to listen to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s performances. It was an ongoing struggle for both parties – the parents nagging him to join them, and the youth’s resistance.  So, one day the youth gave in. He thought in his mind, “If I go this once, maybe they won’t bug me anymore.”  And so came the big day.

It was a matinee performance. The three of them had arrived on time, entered through the double doors and were directed to their seating. Surprised, the young man was happy that his parents had arranged for balcony seats. No sooner had he comfortably settled on the bucketed cushions, that the light began to dim, and the curtains slowly opened. The show was about to begin.

It was to be an evening of Bach, his Toccado and Fugue in D Minor, and his Double Violin Concerto in D Minor. It was to be an evening of listening enjoyment. And so the program. The elder Zachmanns sat still, sitting erect, both with a slight smile on their faces. Young Seth slid down as much as one can in those semi-comfortable theatrical seats. His posture reflected his disposition of having versus wanting to be present.

Intermission had come and gone and actually the last leg of the performance was rounding the curb. The teen was showing signs of restlessness. One could hear him grumbling a bit, as he was becoming fidgety. The father seeing his son’s emotional state cautioned him to be still. The youth turned to him and whispered, “Awe man…When is this thing goin’ to be over?” Typical exclamation of the younger generation!

With that, the parent returned a comment, also whispering with an emphatic tone, “It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings.” Did that ever stifle the lad. Marvin would look at his son with eye movement only, not so much as even flinching his head, giving the appearance that he was always looking straight ahead. Seth, on the other hand, was really pondering over the statement his father had made. He began searching throughout the orchestra to see if there was an obese woman who possibly would belch some operatic tones his way. He had no idea who to look for or what to expect.

Zella, too, was in the same type of predicament. She and her date were attending a talent show. Both were expecting topnotch entertainment.

As the story goes, all went as expected. All contestants were seated on the right hand side of the auditorium, while the audience was on the left. One by one each entered onto the stage, performed, and then left on the other side. That sounds all well and good.

Zella, unhappy with the latter part of the entertainment nudged her friend and also asked about the last act. He, too, said, “It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings.” If ever there was a case for roaming eyes. This was the place. And to state our girl was guilty of this act, that’s an understatement. I think she had it figured out after fifteen minutes, at least in her mind.

And then there was Albert. His wife loved romantic movies. He didn’t. She talked him into going to one. It became her undoing. His suggestions of leaving hit a stone wall.

Disenchanted sneers resulted after he was handed the famous expression at hand.

And even though the last three stories are fictitious, many have used that term a lot.

According to, in the “Opera – the ‘fat lady’ refers to the strongest female diva, who was often large; many popular operas end with an aria or solo by this singer.” It also relinquished that in the south, the saying, “Church ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings” refers to a member of the church choir, which is often composed of several large ladies.”

Finally, “An actual “fat lady”- Kate Smith was a large woman who was very popular as a singer in the 1930’s to 1950’s; in the 1950’s Smith had her own TV show, which ended right before the station went off the air for the night – thus, the TV broadcast day was not over until this particular fat lady sang her closing song.”

And now you can share with your friends the truth of the matter!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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