That evening we walked around the city some more, finding ourselves at another English-speaking theater. We bought tickets for “Sex and the City 2” and wondered if there was enough time to buy an eis. Remember, eis is the German term for ice cream (although everywhere in Europe this also seems to apply), but here it’s more like gelato. Rob and I have adopted the word eis into our vocabulary and use it so much–daily–that it comes out naturally now. Luckily for us, around the corner was an eis stand, one of the prettiest I’ve seen. Each bucket behind the glass window had its own floral or food-inspired decoration on top of its flavor. Rob orded the Mozart, a combination of chocolate and pistachio, and I ordered the Panne Cotta, which sent my senses to the moon! Never before have I had such a creamy, flavorful scoop of ice cream! It was generously piled on top of the sugar cone, dripping down my fingers as I tried to lick the edges before they melted. Mouthful after mouthful was moan-worthy, and moan I did. Rob’s Mozart flavor didn’t prompt any sounds from him, but he got a kick out of listening to my gulping down of pure taste bud ecstasy.

 

The next day we went to the natural history museum. It’s probably the coolest natural history museum I’ve ever been to. First of all, the featured exhibit while we were there was Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Really a journey through proof rather than theory. The plaques did not censor how stupid (their word, not mine) people are not to believe in evolution, as there’s bottomless inarguable evidence. Real stuffed animals were everywhere watching us, but it wasn’t creepy. It was like being in a zoo where a witch had cast a frozen spell on all of them, mid-devour, mid-gaze, mid-prowl, mid-fight. The museum went on and on, displaying everything from amphibians of the like I’ve never seen to the gemology room where dazzling minerals in stone sparkled and gleamed brighter than Tiffany’s.

 

Rob and I had really wanted to see a symphony, being as we were in Vienna, but we couldn’t find any open seats last minute. However, on the back of the tourist map I was holding as we drank juice and tea at a WiFi hotspot, I noticed the image of a pair of fangs against black. Roman Polanski has apparently created an opera called “Vampire”. Rob has displayed his extensive knowledge on vampires throughout this trip. It’s slipped out in a variety of ways. I knew he’d be into this show. It looked dark, intriguing, and they just so happened to have seats available at that night’s showing. Without hesitation, Rob and I bought tickets and realized we had an hour and a half to get ready. We ate chips and salsa for dinner (really, Doritos knock offs and tomato paste–if there’s one culinary genre the Austrians can’t do at all, it’s Mexican fare, but that seems to be every country in Europe).

 

As we were heading back to the trailer, I was suddenly overcome by an embarrassing girly panic: I had no lipstick! I’d completely forgotten to pack lipstick in my make up travel case! How had this happened? I simply couldn’t dress up for my first European night on the town without lipstick. I told Rob I had to find a Sephora or a MAC, and since we were in the shopping district anyway, one couldn’t be too far. He was in a hurry, but agreed that if it was on the way, we could stop. I let out a sigh of relief when I found a cosmetics store, what actually turned out to be a very fine cosmetics store. They even sold Annik Goutal perfume, one of which in particular I’ve had my eye and nose on. I decided just to stick to my mission at hand for now. The sales lady was very kind and picked out exactly what I needed when I told her I wanted a lipstick that was long-lasting and the color of tangerine punch. I chose her first suggestion, a creamy shade from Lancome’s Color Fever line in 104. I also bought a liner to go with it. Might as well do it right!

 

We found the theater relatively easily, then took our time getting dolled up. When I finished dressing and looked in the mirror, I saw Alice again, the one I usually feel like when I’m in LA. I hadn’t worn eyeshadow since I left, or mascara, and certainly not lipstick. I swept my hair back into a knot and slipped into my heels, little black dress clinging in all my favorite places. Rob looked dashing, too, with pinstrip pants and a striped button down. We cleaned up nicely. I was surprised to feel a twinge of self-concsiousness. Maybe it was because so far we’d been wearing mostly camp clothes and didn’t particularly stand out in a crowd, or maybe it was because I was worried about over dressing. I reminded myself that Rob and I were professional red carpet walkers. Surely we had the confidence to pull off dressing up for the opera. Heads did turned our way, but instead of letting it make me feel self-conscious, I decided to half ignore it, half appreciate it.

 

It’s always a funny thing, trying to balance feeling beautiful but not vain. No one likes the girl who’s beautiful and knows it, but how can she not know it when eyes and lips tell her every day? It’s not her fault. Should she assume an air of apology, of false insecurity? If she ignores the blatant stares, does it make her an aloof bitch? If she responds and stares back, does it make her a siren seductress? Even if she is just herself, people will throw her looks of hate and desire, so there really is no way the beautiful girl can win. Or man, as I feel all these apply to good looking males, too. I know I’ve been caught agreeing with my girlfriends that yes, he’s good looking, but he knows it. Oh forgive my judgement, you handsome specimens. When I look at the good looking guy now, I look at him with empathy, knowing there’s no way he can play his personality to win. He’s a pretty boy, complimented and swooned at by women all day long. How can he be faulted for knowing the effect he has? If he brushes it aside, people think he’s being falsely modest. If he owns it, people think he’s cocky. If he tries to play it off with humor, by flexing a muscle with a grin perhaps, people will think he’s full of himself. The only way I can think of for beautiful people to genuinely win the respect of strangers is to be sincere. Some still might judge, but they’re probably just jealous. Trite, but true. Sincerity in anyone, beautiful or homely, vivaciously attractive or timidly stand-offish, will break through first impressions with time. When there’s not time, we should just shrug it off, and put our best foot forward, whether it’s bedecked with Jimmy Choos or Payless.

“Vampire” was awesome. I thought it would either be really good or really bad, but Rob and I were both surprised at how stupendously breathtaking it was. The actors, even though they were singing in German, all did a bang up job. Their voices were better than those I’ve heard in “Phantom” at the Pantages. Actually, “Vampire” is a lot like “Phantom of the Opera”, only cooler and more modern. I turned to Rob incredulously when they started singing–in German– “…And I need you now tonight! And I need you more than ever! And if you only hold me tiiiiight… we be holding on forever! An we’ll only be making it right!” Could it be that this is considered a musical and not an opera, even though the actors are more than merely singing? What is the difference between a musical and a modern day opera as opposed to classical? I choose to think of “Vampire” as an opera, and I would definitely see the English version given the chance.

 

Rob and I shared a pizza after the show, then decided, since we were still wide awake, to make it as far we could towards Croatia. We ended up driving until sunrise, crossing the first border patrol that has actually bothered to stop us and view our passports. With the Slavic accent slurring once more, only this time coming from uniforms, Rob and I were reintroduced to eastern Europe, and Croatians were not as friendly as Czechs or Poles…