Friday, February 23, 2018

"In Praise Of More Of My Stuff (Including Bad News About One Of Them)"

I stick with the stuff I have.  Other people purchase new purses willy-nilly.  (Casting no negative aspersions whatsoever, hoping “aspersions” alone does not already imply “negative”, though it probably does.)

I have had the same wallet for three decades.  My Lexus SC 400 dates back to 1991.  And my piano, I have owned upwards of thirty-five years.

Those are the “Big Three” of my enduring accouterments.  I hate to call them “possessions”, which sounds uncomfortably patronizing.  (Had Lincoln have lived, he’d have freed inanimate objects after freeing the slaves.  And would have ultimately given them the vote.) 

When I first got this idea, I tried to think about why I hold on to things so long. Habit?  Inertia?  Ornery stubbornness?  “Guilty As Charged”, as I am susceptible to all three.  But the most salient explanation came to mind yesterday.  Which I shall mention (reasonably) forthwith. 

If I remember to do so.

I see no reason to replace things if they are still working.  My wallet still holds my “particulars.”  My car still gets me where I want to go.  And my piano still plays notes.  (Although, sometimes, the wrong notes, a failing not attributable to the piano.)

We have developed a personal relationship over the years.  (I was going to say “intimate” relationship, but it sounded vaguely salacious.  “He did what with his wallet?  That’s disgusting!”) 

Our personal relationship is reciprocal.  I know them.  And they know me.

My wallet knows I obsessively “square it up” on restaurant tables, while I am awaiting the check.

My old car is fully aware that I brake for shadows, and I slow down to think.

And my piano is unblinkingly cognizant of my ability.

“You’re bad.  But you’re persistent.”

Why would I want to get rid of my compadres when we know each other so well?

The thing is, however, if I don’t end the relationship, time will.  (I was going to say “time might.”  But that ‘s not correct.  Time, inevitably, does.)

Which brings me, regretfully, to my piano.

I thought it needed a tuning.  Not because it sounded particularly “off” – my ear is good, but not so good I can detect creeping atonality – it’s just, it had been years since its last “Checkup” and, since piano tuners do not send out post cards with a cartoon drawing of a piano, going, “Let’s stay in tune!”, I unilaterally made the call.  (Before every note on the keyboard sounded the same.)

My longstanding piano is an “upright” – no pun intended – manufactured by Knight.  (“Since 1935.”  Though, apparently, no longer.)  Knight pianos were reputedly a preferred favorite of the Beatles.  Although I am not aware of any of the “Fab Four” playing one of them onstage, probably because it was easier to carry guitars when they went out on tour.  What about “drum kits”?  Well, as Paul once reputed cracked, “It’s just Ringo.  Who cares?”)

I called our last piano tuner four times, leaving a message on each occasion and receiving no reciprocating response to any of them.  I hope it was nothing personal.  I’d like to think that she… well, let’s not say what I’d like to think.

Needing a new piano tuner, I search around for a reputable referral.  The problem with asking for piano tuner recommendations from friends with magnificent Steinways is when you contact them, revealing you have an “upright”, they (imaginably) sneer haughtily through their noses, and laughingly “Delete” you from their “Call back” list.

After numerous failed attempts, I finally reeled in a fish. 

She arrived, she tuned my piano, and, in response to my casual “How’s it doing?”, she impassively offered her professional assessment.

I shall allude to her announcement obliquely so I do not cry on the keyboard.

It was the doctor, delivering the “bad news.”

It was the Vet saying, “We have to put ‘kitty’ to sleep.”

It was the homesteader, ministering to a laboring horse, going,

“Young ‘un, fetch me my rifle.”

There seemed to be no doubt about it. 

My venerable piano was not long for this world.

Something about a “cracked board”, but who cares?  I took the prognosis pretty hard.  (Too stunned to consider a “second opinion.”)

My beloved piano was down on the canvas.  And the count, metaphorically, was “Nine.”

Regular readers are aware I do not traditionally “do” optimism.  Still, there is the matter of loyalty.  Rather than replacing an old friend (which will then be “salvaged for parts”, the pianic equivalent of a disfiguring autopsy), I shall continue playing my old pal until “Lights out”, which my “Grim Reaper” piano tuner estimated at six months. 

Although they have, not infrequently, been wrong.

The time will eventually come when I am compelled to say, ‘Night, ‘Night, Knight.”

I just hope it’s not soon.

(Oh yeah.  Why do I cling to my personal accoutrements so long?  Because everything’s changing, including myself (and not in a “Benjamin Button” direction.)  I have control over so little.  So I insistently hold sway over what I can.)


Wendy M. Grossman said...

You know what - and I speak as someone who began playing piano when I was five and only have an upright (a restored Bechstein from 1913) because I can't afford a home big enough for even a baby grand - if playing the piano you have makes you happy it really doesn't matter what the tuner says. That said, I did replace my 1972 bicycle in 2014, and I ride the new one a lot more because the experience is so much better.


Carmen said...

Ludwig. Ringo's kit became THE kit to own for the young novices. Yes, it had lots more to do with the Beatles name than Ringo. Recently read that one of his custom made kits sold for $150-grand. Though he's not an elite drummer, he still managed to parlay his Beatles association into a nice career.

Ludwig is still in business, approaching 120 years, though the Ludwig family no longer owns it. They make very good drums, not the best, but very good.

I strayed a bit, my apologies. I'll stop before I really get off the highway.