I enjoy Beethoven, Mozart, and Bartok, but there is some classical music that knocks me out faster than a twelve pack of codeine. Like Schubert. I wasn’t pleased to go the Philharmonic this weekend and see his infamous name in the program: Mr. Sandman himself, Franz Peter Schubert.
“Well, no problem,” I said to myself as we entered the symphony hall. “Since I’m such a cheapskate, I got tickets in Row X of the orchestra, so no one will even notice when I’m snoring and drooling all over the button-down shirt Sophia bought me at Ross Dress-for-Less.”
Unfortunately, Sophia had plans of her own. Yes, I’ve mentioned this several hundred times on this very blog: Sophia does not like sitting in the crappy seats I buy.
“It’s going to be half empty,” she said. “Let’s wait in the back until five minutes before the performance, and then take some empty seats near the front.”
“But it’s Schubert!” I protested. Why didn’t you tell me they were playing Schubert?!”
“Don’t worry. I’ll kick you in the shin if you snore.”
We had ten minutes to kill before the concert. An attractive blond stood next to us in the back of the auditorium. She had the same idea as we did — to wait for better seats. Sophia struck up a conversation with her, seeing that they were soulmates. The woman turned out to be the newly-married wife of one of the symphony’s cellists, and her seat was at the end of row S, giving her a mere glimpse of her beloved husband’s back. She wanted to see the expression on his face as he played. How romantic.
When Sophia noticed the ushers closing the doors, we picked out two center seats with our eyes, then grabbed them greedily. Finders Keepers. I’m much better at switching seats than I was when I first met Sophia. I used to be terribly anxious about doing this, fearful that the real ticket-holders will come in late and make an angry scene, the performance would end abruptly, the conductor would walk out in protest, a spotlight would shine on me, and then the disgusted mob would belt me with opera glasses. However, after ten years of the “real” ticket-holders NEVER showing up, I’ve grown into a hardened criminal. I’m only anxious for the first five minutes of our stealing the seats, rather than the rest of the week.
Today my anxiety was not about the seats. It would come from another source. You see, there wasn’t just two open seats in this row. There were THREE. As I settled in my seat, the cellist’s wife slid right next to me. The cellist’s wife!
“Oh no,” I thought. “How can I fall asleep during Schubert when one of the orchestra member’s WIVES was sitting next to me. It would be as if I’m insulting his musical talent!”
“This is his first performance with the orchestra,” she told Sophia.
Ugh. Sophia kicked me… and I wasn’t even sleeping yet.
I don’t remember who the first piece was by, but it was sufficiently bombastic to keep me awake. I never have problems with musical pieces about cannon fire, like the 1812 Overture.
Then, there was a hush over the land. The condutor lifted his baton, and the orchestra started to play Schubert, the early 18th Century’s equivalent of John Tesh. I could feel my eyes start to close.
(sidenote – I promised myself that I wasn’t going to write about sex this week, since I went a little overboard last week, but I’m going to break that promise. You’ll see where I’m going in a second)
Men, remember when you were first starting have sex? And just seeing a bra strap was enough to send you over the edge, and the girl would be all disappointed because you lasted about three seconds? And your friend who knew everything from reading his father’s Penthouse magazines told you to think about something boring, like Geometry, while you were with a girl, so then you can last three hours, like the guys do in those sex movies that you used to try to watch, even though they were scrambled on your parents’ cable?
I thought about the good ol’ days while I was sitting there listening to Schubert. It was so boring and my eyes were closing. I just didn’t want to hurt this woman’s feeling. Disappointing a woman in sex is one thing, but to make her feel bad about her husband’s cello playing — that’s just cruel. I would distract myself like I had done so many times before, not to keep the love going, but to keep myself awake! I tried to remember some Geometry. I stepped on my own foot. I tried writing a blog post in my head. I pushed my thumbnail into my arm. I bit my tongue. I even thought of poking myself in the eyes. When the Schubert was over, I patted myself on the back, proud of my restraint and accomplishment.
It was then when Sophia woke me up, shaking her head in embarrassment, telling me that it was time for intermission. I noticed that the cellist’s wife had just darted off, not saying good-bye. Apparently, my head was bobbing up and down during the whole piece, the snoring only beginning during the cello solos.
The cellist’s wife sat elsewhere for the rest of the concert.
A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: “If I Did It,” by John Wilkes Booth