Monday, December 21, 2009

Stately Steinways and their Kin

Students live the life. On a random Tuesday night we're known to ask our friends "Sooo, what did you get up to today?" Then they look at us blankly and say "Um worked." "Oh right," we think. We fail to remember that some people don't get to sleep in until eleven and then saunter into some class on philosophy. But now, I'm on a break so this phenomenon has only worsened. This equates to having excess time. This means doing Nothing. And doing Nothing feels GREAT!

So while I was doing my usual Nothing routine around noon Constituent called me and said "Yawn...yawn..morning, I just got up ("wow, me too" I said)...I dunno...wanna go to Goodwill or something...or, I dunno, we could get Thai food yawn.." We both managed to wake up and bring ourselves to the thrift store for a morning of nothingness that quickly turned into an unforseen adventure.

Well, at the Goodwill, there was an old piano for sale for $200. There was a big sign on the piano that said "Do not play the piano!" I decided to ignore that and I began to loudly and proudly play "Fur Elise" one of the three songs I remember from years of piano lesson torture (age nine). When promptly an attendant got really aggressive and ran towards me and said, "Hey lady! Didn't you see the sign? It's there for a REASON. NO playing the Piana!" Well I had seen the sign but I decided it was optional to follow the rules.

It was at this point that I developed an attitude. A) I was playing a very beautiful song for all the shoppers to enjoy and B) I'll play the piano if I jolly well want to, it's a free country pal! and C) what if I wanted to buy the piano? Am I not allowed to know if it is even in tune? Whatever dude.

I sulked away from the piano like a teenager with a bad attitude and I gave the man a sour face.

We left and Constituent and I conversed (in a very immature and juvenile way) with one another about the lame store attendant and how pianos are meant to be played. It was at this point that we decided to go piano shopping. Constituent had come into a large amount of money from Hanukkah and so Constituent could take piano shopping seriously. I was just along to make us look legit because I know how to play like two songs.

Anyways, this is the best part. I love piano stores. They smell good and they have pianos everywhere. I have never seen so many pianos in one place in my whole life. I felt like I was at a piano family reunion. The digital pianos are the younger trendier generation in their skinny leg jeans. The big grand pianos are the rich uncles smoking cigars--they make great loud and grand sounding noises. The upright pianos are the chirpy aunts and great aunts who make amazing pies etc and like ragtime music. And that gorgeous piano over there is the adopted and well-loved son from Austria--his name is Steinway. Anyways, pianos are like families and are super cool; they come in all shapes, sizes, colors, sounds, personalities and ages.

We chatted with Mr. Piano Expert, tested a few digital painos and then we left. But before we left, I made a point to ask a really lame question "Do you have to keep the building at a specific temperature?" (duh)

I had noticed it was very warm and toasty and I was enjoying that. "Yes," said Mr. Piano Expert, "Pianos like warmer temperatures." I then thought to myself "I wonder what else pianos like..I wonder if they would like some of the candies I have in my car, or if they like would like it if I took him on a walk around the neighborhood" Because Mr. Piano Expert told me pianos like things a certain way.

Pianos have preferences. I didn't know that. Did you?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Crazy People Versus Chatty Strangers

Upon leaving the library on the hunt for nourishment, I walked out in a blustery cold December day. I had a thin scarf on my neck and a semi-warm jacket. Nonetheless, I was freezing. As I was walking to a venue that sells food, I subconsciously made a look on my face that said "I'm fr-freezing." When suddenly, I had a peculiar encounter. A man approached me from behind and began to carry on a dialogue with me. I felt very uncomfortable and I gave him the "go away-don't talk to me-leave me alone-Cancha see I'm busy?" look.

He began analyzing my attire which only made me stiffen up even more.
"You look cold."
"You need to wear warmer clothes. I recommend boots."
"What kind of socks are you wearing?" "
"You need those Swedish socks. Do you like that dog over there?"
"That's a Saint Bernard, right? Like Beethoven."

I responded vaguely by saying things as tartly and curtly as I could. "I'm fine." "Uh huh." "yeh..."

We ended our conversation when I confirmed his suspicions of a dog being a Saint Bernard by concurring, "Yup, that's a Saint Bernard, like Beethoven."

Then we entered the grocery store and went out separate ways. He headed towards the produce and I headed towards the bagels.

I began to ponder my rude behavior to this young man (who was properly dressed for the temperature). I was, in fact, rude and cold with him. In retrospect, I analyzed the encounter and came up with the following conclusion.

You might be surprised to hear me say this, but I think he was fairly normal (despite him carrying on a conversation with a complete stranger who happened to be improperly dressed); he was just friendlier than most. And that puts people on edge when they're taking walks to the supermarket.

He actually wasn't one of those crazy people who want something--money, sign this petition, are you registered to vote? etc. I think he just wanted to make random small talk on the way to the grocery store. But I, like so many people who live in cities (small town behavior is something entirely different when it comes to long conversations in the streets with strangers), have a Wall up complete with electric barbed wire on top. Immediately I question their motives. They must want something out of me and I will do my best to ignore them by giving them short answers and body language that says "Get lost bozo!"

However, in some rare cases, people just want to talk about wool socks with strangers and comment on the frigid weather.

The problem lies in that it is difficult to distinguish who those people are. One just has to follow their gut feeling. But keep in mind, that gut feeling might transform after the encounter has terminated.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Potato Aficionado in Unusual Form

Maybe I shouldn't mention this. After all, it is a dirty family secret. Well, anyways, my parents have a dog. He is an exceptional yellow lab bursting with personality and facial expression. When you play fetch with him, his enthusiasm for the sport activates laughter and induces smiles. He barrels towards the ball at an appalling rate. Then, he cannot stop in time and finds himself on the ground with his head under his hindquarters and his paws strait up in the air conducting an imaginary orchestra in the sky.

Besides ball playing, long walks on the beach and meaningful glaces, this dog also has an insatiable passion for food. Dog food, cat food, Cuban cuisine, French food and anything else. And, my mom discovered something very peculiar about this canines unusual tastes. Although he eats all manner of food, he enjoys potatoes. it turns out he is a potato connoisseur, a very distinguished on, in fact. He likes Russet potatoes, Idaho potatoes, Ruby Norland potatoes and any other variety of potatoes. This canine can describe to you, in unintelligible dog dialect, what makes them distinct, unique, and delicious.

How do I know all this? I've observed him in the process. My mom is his personal chef and she bakes him potatoes. That is the dirty family secret part. And no, they do not set him a place-setting at the dinner table with a little name card that says "Honored Guest." And no, they do not frequent that fancy dog bakery in the Pearl district. (hey, have you seen the price of dog food these days? Why, it's simply astronomical! But potatoes are cheap).

When it comes to homemade baked potatoes, fresh from the fields of Idaho, this dog takes his time. He receives his potato from his master. Then he carefully holds it in his mouth and takes it to a secret corner of the field. He waits until the ambiance is just right, until the sun is at the right place in the sky, until the birds are chirping sweet calls to one another and then he indulges in a romantic dinner with nature. But, he indulges very slowly, like that of a seasoned restaurant critic eating at the restaurants in the winding streets of Mo mart in Paris. He savors each chomp with care and thoughtfulness. And then he floats off into a fantasy with the taste of potato fresh on his tongue.

He truly adores potato's. When he gets standard dog food he woofs it down (get the pun? A real knee-slapper, eh?). He is scarfing it down at such a supersonic speed that it's unlikely he even tastes the stuff. But perhaps that is why dogs eat so fast, the food is unpleasant to the palate. If you give them carefully prepared Coquilles St. Jaques, baked brie in a homemade pesto sauce, some escargot, and coq au vin perhaps they would eat slower and enjoy the food because it is cuisine to be savored and enjoyed. Dog food is not.

My speculation is that dogs eat so fast because the food is simply too unpleasant to want to savor and enjoy.