family, fandom, Microscopic Septet, music

The best nonbirthday present ever, part 2.

Then there’s this person I met back around 1997 while in rehearsals for Les Liaisons Dangereuses for which I needed tights, which I tried to obtain at a Capezio’s in the Village where this cute girl worked, and… skip ahead about four years to when I married her.

Kellie puts up with a lot of nonsense from me, and in turn I try to be more focused and responsible with mundane details of everyday cohabitation, considering how relatively fewer in number her own quirks tally to. She’s been patiently hearing a great deal of repeated fan-driven anecdotal praise of any number of my personal obsessions since our first date at Mary Ann’s, a lame-ass story cycle which I’m sad to imagine might remind her a bit too much of those her dad indulges in. None of which, however, mitigates a bit the amount of encouragement she gives me to pursue cool stuff that makes me happy.

Predictably, I digress even while describing digression.

* * *

Remember that bit of wonderful news in part 1 of this megillah about my favorite band’s effort to raise funds for a new CD, hosted on Kickstarter? Well, the only delay in my clicking on “Pledge? Fuck, Yeah!” was determining what we could reasonably afford to handle on a reduced income. The level I threw some promise-money at would get me a couple of signed CDs and thanks in the new CD’s credits, which I felt satisfied with. Farther down the list, some lucky bastard who could spare a lot more would get a private performance by the entire band. Such stuff as dreams are made on.

* * *

A more pertinent beginning of this circuitous anecdote begins last autumn, when Kel underwent surgery to remove a tumor on her right parotid gland, an upsetting in-patient procedure that required considerable preparation and recovery. It was  an event I can’t easily write about.

In short, the surgery went well, and Kel recovered nicely. Our dear friend Nancy — one of the more extraordinary individuals we had met during our Year of Living Copelandey — proved as selflessly supportive and helpful as any blood relation I could ever hope to claim. She had met us the day Kel was admitted for surgery and stayed with me throughout most of the day while we waited for whatever happened next, despite her own personal obligations. She was also there to shuttle the discharged patient home, sparing us the cost of an interstate taxi, then left us with enough cooked food for several days. I couldn’t adequately describe how wonderful this lady was, nor could I readily conceive of a way to return the kindness she showed us.

* * *

So it was with little effort that, months later, I readily agreed to assist with what sounded like an acceptable start. Kel would help with catering and decorations for an event that would be ostensibly related to Nancy’s husband Andy’s position at a fairly successful online photo-sharing service; a gallery showing of his photography. I would help the Wife carry supplies into Manhattan. It’s at this point that my critical thinking capability took a back seat to my need for following uncomplicated instructions. My wife knows this.

It “turned out” that our friend Powell from Queens was also due to be in Manhattan that day, meeting his wife and a possible venue host for a comedy cabaret series they produce. Powell would find me near the Port Authority Bus Terminal at a local bar for lunch before heading downtown for said meeting. I did not question why my wife needed me to help haul stuff into town but could somehow do without my help hauling said stuff its last few city blocks before setting it up in what I was told was the only space they could find: a rehearsal hall a short ways downtown from the Port. I merely accepted that this would be a good opportunity to spend an hour or two with an old buddy before attempting to make myself useful to a newer one.

It also never occurred to me how oddly familiar this should have seemed, given events which had transpired almost ten years before. At Kel’s suggestion.

* * *

Re-enactment of lunch.

Powell and I had a nice lunch in an almost deserted theater-district pub, easily reverting to our two-old-Jews-complaining-about-family-and-decrepitude mannerisms, despite the fact that the boy is about as Jewish as I am, say, blonde and German.

On the phone, Kel was complaining about everything/everyone running late over at the space, so Powell and I took more time over a bit more beer and beef. His downtown meeting had been postponed as well, so I inquired — again, on Kel’s suggestion — whether Powell could attend the exhibit. Of course he could. I regaled Powell with the account of my deep emotional debt to the exhibitor’s wife and how she’d taken care of Kel and me the previous autumn as we headed downtown.

* * *

The hall’s building was a lot more impressive than many other rehearsal spaces I’d made use of over the years. We rode up in the elevator with a friendly-looking man who was clutching sheet music. Powell called his wife for an update on their situation as we exited. I remained absolutely clueless. Because I tend to believe  people I love when they tell me things.

I opened the hall’s door wondering only then — characteristically — exactly how Andy’s photographs were going to be displayed in a space that had no specialized provisions for wall-mounted art. Duct tape? Repurposed music stands?

The room was brightly lit. There was no art on the walls. A fairly large crowd of people were all facing the door for some reason. Then they all shouted “HI, MO!”

It was then I realized I knew everyone present. Then I saw music stands at the far end of the room, clustered amidst a small group of nattily-dressed gentlemen bearing brass instruments.

And then, in the beaming faces of my dear wife and of Nancy and of a dozen other folks, I realized I had been disinformed. Again.

Frozen at the door. Image by Betsy Giuffrida.


4 thoughts on “The best nonbirthday present ever, part 2.

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