Monday, January 13, 1997

Beautiful Music

One of the things I miss most about working in downtown St. Paul is the variety of places one can go for lunch. Fast food, ethnic food, fried food, health food- all a mere walking distance away in the wonderful skyway system. Sure my current workplace is within driving distance of a good choice of fine restaurants in downtown Stillwater, but who wants to take the time to warm one's car, and slip down those slippery slopes into town just to drop down a day's pay for some good grub?

Nope, more often I choose either to bring my own lunch from home (a cup of Ramen noodles and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) or take my chances with the cafeteria food within the Government Center. And taking a chance is a proper sentiment, for this food isn't always the most delectable choice to be found, being the prison food that it is (quite literally- it is the same stuff they feed to the inmates). It is however the more convenient choice for one who rarely takes much of a lunch break.

Thus being a participant in the first of Cheapo's monthly anniversary lunches was a real treat. Last Tuesday Mary, Al (the Kanji master), Cliff and I dined at the impressive D'Amico and Sons restaurant in the poorly plowed Uptown area. It was a fine lunch full of good company, conversation and food. I had a tasty chicken feta salad which was chock full of pasta, chicken and little zesty things that I first thought were grapes, then thought might be olives, but never really discovered what they really were.

Anniversaries are reason to celebrate in these days when commitment and longevity, admirable traits, are becoming more and more difficult to find. I enjoyed the chance to talk to Mary and Al, two people I don't get a chance to see very often, and Cliff who was the only person in this company who was working in the stores when I started all those years ago. Anniversaries are also a time for reflection, something anyone who knows me well will tell you is dangerous to me; after all I have spent years of my life in reflection, looking within, into mirrors and reflecting pools diving and divulging into the inner sanctums of introspection and self indulgence.

I must say that at age 32, I don't have many complaints or the usual anxiety and angst over the current state of my life. Things are okay and you learn as you go on to accept and not feel so deeply those things that used to cause some sleepless nights. I guess there is one lingering regret, one element of life that gnaws in my craw and there are two current motion pictures out to remind me of that missing piece of life. Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You, and Madonna's Evita are attempts to revive the movie musical. I applaud the attempt, and can't wait to see both movies. Gosh darn I wish life was the same. I wish that at appropriate moments people would just break out into song and we would all get together and feel the freedom to perform a musical number together. People are just too damn afraid to go out on a shimmering limb and make a fool out of themselves (something I've never had too much trouble at doing). Think of the charm and fun of breaking into a number during those dull moments during the day, or dancing up a storm with a swelling orchestra backing whenever a stressful moment appears.

It isn't only the movies that are missing those glory days of the MGM musicals. Our society is becoming more and more harsh and unforgiving. As music continues to become more of a business than an art form, it would be nice to see somebody during the events of every day life just break into a song because the mood fits and inspiration calls for it. Maybe it's not appropriate and they would cart you away, but I remember a moment in junior high on a wistful spring day, when a young boy's heart turns to thoughts of... and it was pouring out as I went to catch my bus and I passed my heart's inspirational source and I began to sing and splash dance, quite spontaneously, Singin in the Rain and she laughed but didn't go so far as to join in.

Such moments in life are too rare. I guess the best we can do is sing spirituals as we shovel through the downfall from our winter's malcontent. Life ain't a musical. But still that can't prevent you from enjoying a chicken feta salad now and then.

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