At the most continental cafe available off Michigan Avenue for coffee. Germans and Dutch and twelve steppers in evidence on the ride out. Eyes past around back and forth and right to left and back again. Some smiles fielded while music of the French cafes inspire mental images of street corner bistros taken up in the dance. The frivolity of these melodies invoking an unusual mood. All manner of types of the feminine with guarded but hungry looks come to satisfy both kinds of hunger for sustenance and attention. Some old but still resting as elegantly as possible upon their well-appointed jewelry and the dignity of the decorum offered as their laurels. Illusion comes tall and hard to attach to other things small. They must dream up their own fantasies and hope they sell as well. Dancing, so important to the atmosphere of a violin and continental squeeze box on some anonymous provincial Rue. How proud we all once were with our now fading flesh! While others figure that this sort of math leads some with more gaunt visages to look for a broom to fly home upon. The art of clever costume that I personally abhor is the very foundation of the fantasy that I persist in continuing to seek.
Enter the tall young man in the brown suit with the wrong color shoes. Another gray uninspired day dripping outside the great windows of this ever ornate hall housing the Myra melange. My gray hair blends in well with congenial company. A matter of shear bound luck and unvarying happenstance. Soon all my former flames will hobble across this floor transformed from eternal mental youth into arthritic dowagers. Their temper’s flare quenched somewhat caught in the path of the advance of age. Anger and fear of a rapidly evaporating future equating to somber and distantly posed. A retreat into one’s waiting self. Closing the tenuous portal of calcified flesh hiding remote with in one’s turtle shell under too many layers of life experience. The faded beauty of yesteryear hinted below the cracked paint making their desiccated presence ever more sublime.
Schubert and Brahms most often played at these events. The effect of indolence in a child’s rebellious cry echoing up from the distant marble stairwell overbearing. The delicate flow of Schubert dislodged slightly by its strident impact. Every errant whisper amplified across the expanse of the chamber to the level of plain speech. The silence so prevalent as to be considered wholly unrestrained. It’s frequent pause revealing the presence of so many undivided secrets harboring within. This impresario in full command. Conspicuously awaiting the intervening buzz come from immobility to settle in advance of her continuing. Arrogant, perhaps but not unreasonable in light of the display of her exceptional abilities. The business of the craft of mental illusions an equally shared bliss flowing within this space taken seriously. One abrasive cough answered readily by a kindred throat across the room. The thunder of rustling programs in reminder of the delicacy of those confident notes inspiring long deposed thoughts of gentle embrace of too many long gone and lost. Perhaps these Wednesday sojourns have become indispensable as a reminder of whatever soul I have left? Is this experience physically palpable or simply intellectual?
This formality of bars and staffs and winged notations some two-hundred years previous as translated by a member of a foreign culture brings an aire beyond the reappearance of simple nuts and bolts and DJ stock quotes. Her sparse frame ramrod straight upon the ebony bench encapsulated before the lazy curve of the great piano grand, hands steadying chords below the extensions of her well-practiced grip. By sheer fact of endurance alone her efforts have worn down the audience into a completely inert state of total silent compliance. Though some have come her to sleep within this romantic realm of formal lullaby. How does one reconcile a Europe of the nineteenth century with the modern China of the twenty-first? Beethoven’s emotional cautionary interplay in the counterpoint of minor chords twirling about optimistic melody. The two arched upon opposite ends of the same rusty old merry go round swinging swiftly about.