Friday, December 18, 2015

The Concert

I was invited to a concert.
This would be a classical concert. Classical implies class, of which I do not possess one whit. It would also signal an enjoyment or at least an appreciation of classical music, of which, I once again do not possess one whit (do not pass one whit, do not collect $200).

Here's where it gets hairy... when I say I was invited, what I mean was that I was given twenty four hours' notice to appear at my nephew's school concert by She Who Must be Obeyed (sister-in-law, not wife). Last time I was ordered to appear, I somehow managed to pull off the Feat of the Century and forgot my tickets. A few minor (and major) traffic violations later, I made it back to the school. I was chauffering my mother, so we had a handicapped tag. Unfortunately all six handicapped spots were taken. As were all spots around them. All spots on the side of the school were spoken for, and the spots in the rear mocked me with their refusal to be empty when I needed to park. I wound up 3/4 around the building, behind the ten industrial-size trash receptacles, each the size of a small suburban home.

My nephew plays the violin.
Because his parents tell him he likes it.
Let's face it - most kids want to play relatively current music on the guitar, right?

When notified that my appearance was imminent, I kindly asked if the concert could be moved somewhere else; somewhere with parking, like McDonalds or a generic convenience store. She Who Must be Obeyed merely cackled and made a remark about being selfish.  I'm not selfish - I just don't like parking in the next county. My wife constantly tells me I have Unreasonable Expectations<tm>. Captain Hindsight informs me that I should have made Unreasonable Expectations the title of this blog.

I asked for the time and the street off the main drag. I got the time and the address. Rushing out the door without my dinner, I blasted to the school, in hopes of being early and perhaps not having to ride the shuttle from my car to the door. And I couldn't find the street. No matter how hard I looked. Up and down the main street.

The sight of some lunatic beating up the inside of his car and yelling at the top of his lungs probably confused more than a few motorists that evening. I finally tried consulting my phone, which I remembered is impossible with my current glasses, even if I have someone holding the phone across the street. Glasses on, glasses off. Find a street map, glasses off. Forget the address, glasses on. AHA - when I asked for the street off the main drag, I received the street address of the school, which is NOT the street off the main drag. The screaming and self-abuse continued for a short time, between pleas to be allowed to do something nice for a child.

The moment of the starting was almost upon me as I turned into the lot. UH-OH. No parking in front (without handicapped placard). No parking on side. No parking in rear. I resigned myself to my now-reserved spot, back by the trash receptacles. The joke, however was on me: they moved the receptacles a half block in the other direction. I took a taxi to the front door of the hall. Damn thing cost me twenty bucks plus tip.

Brother texted me, telling me they saved me a seat in the center left rear. Apparently this was supposed to be a helpful description, allowing me to differentiate center left rear from center front right mezzanine. It took me a while to figure out left, right, front and rows but I finally spotted him, via the glow from the rear of his head (male pattern baldness is a crime and hereditary).

Upon taking my seat, I recoiled in horror - there were singers too. When I questioned the Sis-in-Law, she apologized, claiming that she didn't know there were singers either. I spent the rest of the evening trying to decide if that was the truth or not.

Looking at all the young, smiling faces, one thing occurred to me: my nephew got in on a minority scholarship. This is a very highly-regarded school and, judging from the stage, ninety percent Asian. I think they had to bus in some caucasians to clap on the wrong beat or something. The musicians wore white shirts and black pants. And that One Child was there too: the only one of one hundred wearing white socks. Accordingly, he was sat right up front, so as to be a lesson to his parents. The only other one that stood out was the young lady with the purple and pink hair. I couldn't help but think of cotton candy when looking at her. The Sis-in-Law clucked disapprovingly, stating that she would NOT let her child do that to her hair. Good thing too, as she has sons.

The lights dimmed and the first note rang out, followed in quick succession by the second note. There were a few more notes in there but I was too busy grimacing while attempting to not let my face show it. I don't expect perfection. I don't expect unison. But what I really wanted... needed.. was the instruments to play in tune. I don't know if you need to tune the cello or the cellist but at that point, the voices in my head were singing harmony so as to block out what was happening on the outside.

Between songs several babies screeched, as if they were performing their own sporadic little concert. When they refused to cease and desist, I remarked that their parents probably didn't even hear them. It's like living at the airport - after a while, you don't notice the planes anymore.  At this point it hit me: the conductor, a teacher and musician of some reknown, simply couldn't hear the students who were playing out of tune. Not that this excused the aural assault.

Much has been said about public schools and religious displays, making it even more surreal to see the African-American students singing Hanukkah songs. The older students performed better, with an even smaller portion playing out of key (or with the orchestra across the street). Sometimes the leader would tune a violin between songs. How she could pick one violin to tune is a feat beyond my wildest imagination, although it is said that Ray Charles could point to a musician and tell him which note he was playing wrong.

The concert went on (and on), with different permutations of musicians and singers. When it was blissfully over we adjourned to the lobby, where I asked a woman with a Starbucks drink if she brought enough for the rest of the class. And went MILF observing.

My nephew came running up, happy to see me. And I forgot about all the other crap.
I didn't even mind the forty minute jog to my car.

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