augury doggerel

Monday, May 31, 2004

Glimmer, glimmer

We're at the music school's end-of-year recital. The kid plays piano accompaniment for the youngest class, who display their rhythmics or something. They hop about in pink leotards. Very important to a musical education, we are told. Then the kid's class performs relatively sophisticated rhythmics, possibly an interpretive dance I cannot interpret, and the kid is the lead ribbon twirler (other than a ringer from an older class). The kid looks very serious and seems to express something grave about the wind, but her leotards are cut high at the hips and her underwear is not, so I watch her underwear and listen to her mother and grandmother, one on either side of me, argue about whose fault it is.

And they sing and play oboes and clarinets and violins and cellos and recorders on through the late afternoon in a warm, close auditorium. Two girls as big as their double basses pluck a Scott Joplin duet. Three miniature beings play miniature squeaky violins. A clarinettish girl plays a clarinet. The finale is a choir of girls and two or three wee boy sopranos singing what might be a selection from the conductor's old 45s: the Mills Brothers, Elvis, the Beatles.

Grandpa is a row ahead of us. He inspects and pulls at his fingers. He slowly, mysteriously, vacantly slides his chair back almost into our row, then switches to another chair in his row, then tries to switch back to the first chair without remembering that the first chair is no longer there. Six hands manage to catch him before he drops to the floor, but in the excitement someone farts and the choir begins to sing "Come on and be my leetle goot luck charrm."

I have been quiet and polite--I am overproud of being quiet and polite at such events--but now a snort rips out of my nose. It's a sudden and loud and deep snort. The parents of choirgirls turn and look at me now, and this is just about when they must begin to smell something curling up and around their noses.

I shove my head way down inside my chest and cease to breathe until the clapping begins. When I look up, Grandpa is observing the ceiling and flexing his fingers.


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