Monday, December 8, 2003

The Split Tip Jar

I'm always a guy looking at my career options and with that new (well new to my house anyway) musical instrument (my sister's baby grand piano) nestled securely in the corner of my living room, I've decided now is the opportune time to use my nine years of piano lessons to make me some money.

Since I learned much of how to play the piano by playing Barry Manilow songs, I don't think it would be very authentic to bill myself as a rock star. For the same reason I'm hardly qualified to be a classical musician. There is of course that Japanese fiddler in Branson, Missouri, so country may seem like an obvious choice. Unfortunately my current life isn't so much about cigarettes, whiskey, and wimmyn but more accurately about coffee, parking, and kitty litter.

Another handicap might be that I really only play passable versions of two songs, Barry's "Mandy" and Paul McCartney's "You Gave Me the Answer." Beyond that I can do "Let it Be" OK, and if I'm in the right mood, John Hiatt's "She Loves the Jerk," and Brian Wilson's "Caroline No." Stephanie Jane thought I did those last two songs with a little bit too much conviction.

So maybe I won't have much of a career as a professional piano player. Still there are other options. I could always stay at home and teach piano lessons all day long. Two drawbacks to that fallback option: 1) I don't especially like children and I'd probably end up giving lessons like my elementary band teacher Mr. Binstock who used to read the newspaper while I was playing my versions of the scales on my trumpet. 2) If you haven't noticed I thrive on the unconventional and thus would much rather have my students play like my cat Diego-san who dreamily strolls up and down the keyboard oblivious to what the rest of us in the room may think of his music. He may not be melodic but he's going to play the way he is inspired to play. Teach that method to some paying suburban snotty "I don't want to be here but my parents are making me" kid and I'm not sure their mom will continue to send over a check.

So yes, perhaps a rational person given the above choices would keep their day job. Well no one has ever accused me of being rational. So this past week as the one who saunters and I went to see the Matrix Revolutions (a movie that answers the question just what can make Keanu/Neo not mutter "whoa" but rather, "shit!") I did a lot of ruminating. If the reality of the matrix is either a physical world or a computer program can life outside the movie theater be about anything that doesn't happen within the walls of my house? If a cat plays (or pounces) on a piano and there is no one there to hear it ('cept a three-legged cat) is it really music? And when it comes to home repairs is the one who thinks I'm next to worthless really right?

Speaking of things to ponder, if as Ike Reilly suggests, we are all going to be judged on garbage day wouldn't it be prudent to have one's garbage disposal be working and working well? Thus it bugged me when my disposal stopped grinding and I thought to myself I could probably learn to live without it since as a kid our family never had such a luxury. The problem was that the disposal was connected to the lone drain to my sink and without it my sink didn't drain so well.

After I was done doing the dishes one night I pulled the plug (so to speak) and the dirty dishwater just sat there. I was reluctant to leave the kitchen sink (so to be paralyzed) knowing that an overly curious kitty would no doubt want to check out the unusual new situation. Sure enough minutes after I left the kitchen Diego was up swatting suds in the air and tasting the contents. So I spent the rest of the evening watching whether the water level was dropping and then bailing the water out and dumping it into my bathroom sink. Fearing a pricy repair expense I nonetheless called the resurrection number. I was advised that before they sent someone out that I should hit the reset button on the bottom of the disposal. So I did. And it worked. Grinding again! I'm such a handyman!

The next day my car sounded louder than normal. I looked around and saw a small hole in my muffler. Another hole to deal with. It's always something new and old that not even a piano can cure. Or can it?

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