Carl likes to bring me a glass of juice while I’m playing the piano. He prefers cranberry, to reflect his Massachusetts roots, but settles for apple if that’s not available. I appreciate Carl’s little gift. But it does make me nervous. First he puts a couple of crumpled napkins on the mahogany grand piano. Then, hand shaking, he struggles to set the wet glass atop the unstable paper mound. From a wheelchair. I observe this out of the corner of my eye, trying all the while to concentrate on the music under my fingers.
But it’s an important ritual for Carl, so once I finish my song I simply thank him and move the glass over to the windowsill when he turns away. Apparently, though, some of the other residents have complained about this use of the piano as a table. It’s true that drinks should never be placed on a piano. A spill would be disastrous, and a white ring on a wood finish can be impossible to erase. I have a strict rule at my house that no beverage of any kind can be on or around my piano. Yes, even wine.
Anyway, the director of the senior facility recently told Carl he can no longer bring me juice. The next week, he went with a monetary reward instead, slipping me an envelope containing a 5-dollar bill. “Buy yourself some sheet music,” he instructed.
For Carl, showing gratitude to the “pie-anni player,” as he calls me, is just good manners. I’m all for that. Especially when it involves a large bar of raspberry-filled dark chocolate, quietly left on the bench beside me. Sweet.
Copyright © 2015 by Paulette Bochnig Sharkey
All rights reserved.