Sunday, May 09, 2010

May 8th, Part the First: Begun the Commencements Have

Yesterday was a day bursting at the seams with things that happened.  I tried describing it as a "busy" day, but that somehow feels like I was doing or working a lot.  Actually, I was mostly relaxed and not busy.  It was a constant stream of one activity leading into another leading into another from ten o'clock in the morning to ten at night.  Gather 'round to hear tell of the first part of the day -- the part where I talked to girls and earned money.

As many of you know, it's the time of year for graduation.  Or as retail stores like to put it: "Dads and Grads", which is strange considering Father's Day is halfway through June.  Graduation time means money for brass players, since my current potential alma mater pays the brass studio to play for the nine ceremonies.  It's a lovely time.  It's the secular partner to Easter Week, which is usually regarded as "Brass Players Week" by the gigging peers -- a time when each and every brass player has a gig.  Well, except for the extremely devout one I tried to provide with a gig.  He just responded with a lecture on why anyone would bother being in a new and different church on Easter, especially because it might be for "the Papists".

Message received: don't pester him with religious money gigs, because he's still stuck in the English Reformation. [It's certainly the first and only time in my life I've heard an acquaintance use the term "papist" in sincere conversation.]

But enough about Henry VIII's pet projects.

I arrived on campus early because we had been advised that streets would be closed due to a Plaza-centric 5k and 10k course nearby.  I never saw a runner or a barricade, so I'm not really sure if they ran early or even ran at all.

Even at 8:45am, there were people waiting in the lobby outside of the venue for the 10am ceremony.  I worked my way through the back hallways to the door leading to the orchestra pit.  I had a tasty on-the-go breakfast consisting of yogurt and a very tasty banana-nut muffin.  And then I realized I'd forgotten my mouthpiece.


Even my car-residing backup mouthpiece was not in the normal place.  That's what happens when I try to clean up my car!  I borrowed my trombone professor's backup to perform the services, so there was little momentum lost.

The first commencement of the day was the music one.  It would turn out to be the most enjoyable, which is not a compliment usually paid to commencements.  Because I knew many of the people who were graduating and because they strayed from the standard boilerplate ceremony script, it was pleasant.

Then out to lunch with fellow musicians.  One of my friends accepted an adjunct position at a university in Florida, so we chatted about job things and college teaching.  Since she's not in the same instrumental discipline as me, I refrained from stabbing her in the back, doling out sincere congratulations instead. 

Back at the office (that same orchestra pit), there was time to kill.  My friend and I started talking about life, the universe and everything.  I've always been disappointed that I don't have more social time to spend with her.  I've known her a long time (in Kansas City terms) because she's been at UMKC for a while, so we've been in the same classes, had the same teachers, griped about the same conductors, etc.  But she and her fiance live at the other end of Kansas City from me, and jobs for everyone means no common "hang time".  I'll miss them when they move, but she's invited me to visit (in perverse spirit possibly, because she knows I hate humidity).

We turned the conversation to her wedding invitation for the upcoming June ceremony.  I'd made an observation last week to her that it was optimistically (I hoped) addressed to "Andrew Schwartz + Guest".  Now that we were alone in the pit, she said in her best "let's dish" voice, "So, what about that 'plus guest'?"

I laughingly (and embarrassingly) replied that I wouldn't want to subject her no-doubt beautiful wedding to the company of any of the women I'd recently seen.  After all, one tries to look out for one's friends on their special days (which reminds me of a story of carrot cake and uncles from last night -- for another entry).  She smiled and tilted her head sympathetically, nodding.  We discussed what I was looking for in a woman and thoughts on romantic relationships in general.

She pursed her lips thoughtfully.  "Well, I've talked to like 15 people before.  And we all agree we'd like to see you with someone.  The problem is that I've thought through all the people I know and... well, no one is good enough for you."

I can't remember what response I made to this, but it's enough to say that it wasn't a witty rejoinder and I probably stumbled over the next sentence I made while trying to move the subject away from how great I am.  She'd taken me by surprise, because I hadn't had a woman flat out tell me relationship opinions about me in a LONG time.  My cynicism rushed up to push the obvious definition away: "Is that a polite way of telling me that I'm really bizarre and nobody's interested?  I can't think that anyone *I* know doesn't consider herself at least my equal.  And oh my isn't this another nail in the 'Andy makes me uncomfortable with his smart-making' coffin.  I knew I shouldn't have made that stupid joke about argot and ergo.  Maybe I can recover some ground if I stare at her breasts and -- then she'll be able to find me a date for her wedding.  I can be less good."

It was only several hours later when, after the wedding and reception (and a fair amount of alcohol), I sat beaming at the two wonderfully happy newlyweds working in concert to "manage" the crowd of family and friends at a wedding that I thought again about what had been said to me earlier in the day. And I decided that she may have been serious and paying a somewhat-frustrating compliment -- whether or not it's technically true. 

In light of that acceptance on my part, I guess I should hope that none of her other single friends are reading this.  Because I'm not that great -- so you all must be awful.

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