Ode to Aida

Columns | Vienna Review | December 2009 / January 2010

Ode to Aida: To ignore her is to obsess over her, and the desire is growing daily. She’s everywhere, unavoidable and obvious, robed in pastel pink fabrics and a rosy demeanor. Enticing men, women and children to approach eagerly, she rarely disappoints, except when she isn’t there. Some days I pass her quickly, or snake along ridiculous routes so as not to notice her parked there, displaying confections that drive me wild. Oh, Aida, your opera does not compare to your Topfenstrudel.

Schokolade croissants, Sachertortes, and buttery breads galore! Older ladies in gloves and matching mink hats down your Kaffees with the morning paper. Little girls in puffy coats beg their mothers for "eins mehr" while students grab Brot for breakfast. The public can afford you, poor writers adore you, and thrifty geezers buy your remains when you place them half off.

We love you, Aida. We rely upon you. We need you more than a Jahreskarte, a year pass.

But you ask so much in return. Your presence can drive one mad. Your sugar, your butter, it all sticks like glue. You’re seducing me; and you betray me. How soon before you destroy the body that loves you?

But like dough to an oven, I just can’t stay away, can’t walk past you without entering, staring, wishing I could afford all those perfect cakes and chocolate truffles. I stand next to you for minutes, gazing at the newest creations, wondering how you can be so cruel to the metabolically-impaired.

Today, Lady Aida, I must say good-bye. I know I will end our wild love affair as the Christmas season opens, and other markets and other sweets will take your place.

But perhaps you’ll wait for me without begrudging my disloyalty. I’ll be back in early spring, when your ice cream cones are displayed yet again for me to admire, to desire, and to devour with delight.

- Katherine Boyle

Other articles from this issue