Wednesday started much as any day starts: a brisk walk to the bus stop, a good-natured hollering from Mike, That Guy on the Bicycle (“MORNIN’, PEARL!”) followed by a quick fleecing at the Starbucks and a ride up 48 floors to my desk where the bright lights and heady acclaim of my life as office drudge and witty conversationalist awaits.
But first, where are my manners? I know why you’re here! You’ve heard, haven’t you, that my iPod, set on “shuffle” and played during my morning commute, foretells the future!
It’s perfectly true, I tell you!
Aw. Come on. Play along.
Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones by The Hives
Setting Sun by The Chemical Brothers
Daft Punk is Playing at My House by LCD Soundsystem
Nu Tones by Nomo
Who Cares? by Gnarls Barkley
Up From the South by The Budos Band
Dancing Machine by The Jackson 5
What’s it all mean? What do you mean, “what's it all mean”? It means push the furniture to the walls! Invite the neighbors! It means dance party, baby!
That’s my official take on it, and I refuse to be swayed. We will party and we will do it with vigor.
So it is foretold.
And now, back to Wednesday. Because that’s the day, the day that started normal and ended in a supremely sweaty room full of musicians and perverse sheet music, some of which harbored five sharps…
I ask you: Five sharps? Is that necessary?
Following in the footsteps of my father, professional drummer and King of the Clean Joke (a title without compensation or property, I assure you), I was a musician myself for a number of years. Eventually, however, the need for me to cook, clean, and pay the bills overtook the time I had to practice my instrument (primarily the clarinet) and I lost touch with that side of myself.
“It’s a great band, Pearl,” Scott had said over calamari a month ago. “We meet five weeks at a time, twice a year, resulting in two concerts. You should come.”
And I've been practicing since then.
So let me ask you this: When’s the last time you were in band class?
The woman next to me, a woman 20 years my senior and roughly half my height, moves the music stand we share to almost directly in front of her own chair.
“Sorry,” I say to her, not very sorry, actually, “I can’t really see that.”
She eyes me suspiciously. Clearly she is envious of my status as 10th clarinet of 14. She reaches forward, angles the stand infinitesimally in my direction, sits back, then reaches forward again and readjusts it so that it is once again directly in front of her.
I am transported. The years fall away, and despite the fact that I am no longer first chair, I am in love. The flutes sit just over there, perky and straight-backed; the French horn player behind me mocks the arrangement of Pavane we’ll be playing; and I’m pretty sure that the drummers are sneaking out the back door when they think no one is looking.
Nothing has changed but my weight.
And I think I can take some of those second clarinets.
Whangamata and MahJong
1 hour ago