The X Files

The desire for a treat steals upon me, wickedly, in every dutiful day. A day of rehearsing, some practicing, and of course strike-related walking, left me vulnerable in the final minutes of my favorite show, House. Though I had eaten wisely, with perhaps an excess of conscious prudence, the grocery downstairs beckoned; my stockinged feet were shod, a jacket donned, and I was out the gloomy entrance of my building in a flash.

Newly expanded, Barzini’s is even more of a pleasure dome. Its single automated door is now cruelly, Satanically stationed before a barrage of cheese; though I had intended to pass by, it was as though I were suspended, held, in the very idea of cream. My meals of the day, I realized, had been so fat-free as to leave me morally ill-equipped for a night in the Valley of Temptation. My eyes even lingered on the pates, for a moment of aspic desire. No no! And I would have made it, too! except just as I turned the corner, the dust of other customers’ impatience kicking beneath my heels, a hidden bank of Shropshire Blue met some inner feast of my imagination in a field of joy, and I snapped up cheese and crackers without a further qualm. On to the ice cream freezer, my original target. Cunningly some organic English Ale (perhaps the perfect mate for my Shropshire Blue?) caught my eye on the way and it too was gathered up into the folds of my now burgeoning winter coat, and then just as I rounded the home stretch and approached the cash register and opened the door to the adjoining freezer, just as I felt the first frost on my bare fingers, twitching to choose a flavor, I heard a horrible sound. The very symbol of perversion and guilt. The Dominican girl with dyed blonde, curly, greasy hair at the register began to dance along to the rockin’ beat. She understood it better than I! As my hand further froze, and my eyes tried to distinguish Homemade Ice Cream Ben & Jerry’s from Frozen Yogurt Ben & Jerry’s through the now-misting glass (through a looking-glass, darkly), I realized it–the horrible sound–was a ringtone, and Beethoven’s four fateful notes had filtered through two centuries only to be slapped together with this horrendous rhythm section, to indicate and signify nothing except to the owner of Barzini’s that someone, anyone had called. I marvelled briefly at Beethoven’s universality, and then fell morose at the sheer horrible cooption of it all, the way in which anything can become anything. Hadn’t I just yesterday taken a little cheap shot at the Fifth Symphony, here on the blog? And here it was coming back to haunt me, perhaps–even?–to dissuade my gluttony. But I paid it no mind; I chose my flavor, paid my tab, and shunted back out past the cheese to the cold lanes of Broadway.

And let that be the lesson. At two in the morning, when the combined forces of cheese, ale, and ice cream awakened me unpleasantly, I was confronted both with the discomfort of my stomach and another mysterious sonic sensation, emanating from a screen at the other side of the room which I did not quite yet understand. The screen said: “Mulder, be careful.” Believe your omens.

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  1. George Wright
    Posted December 22, 2005 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Hello Mr. Denk. I actually googled you to see if I could find any info on what you and Joshua Bell plan to play for us in San Francisco in February. Then I got caught up in your musings. I enjoyed your comments on Bach/Beethoven. I’ve been immersed in (actually obsessed by) Bach cantatas for the last few months. You would think after a hundred or so I’d be ready to move on, but I keep finding more gems. How did he do it? If you find time between the cheese and ice cream to e-mail me what you have programmed for February, I’d appreciate it. Looking forward to your performance, George Wright e-mail

  2. Marcus Maroney
    Posted December 23, 2005 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    What flavor Ben & Jerry’s?

  3. Qais Al-Awqati
    Posted December 23, 2005 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I am floating on a cloud of Bach via the BBC Radio 3 24/7 end of the year Bach and now our own Columbia Radio Stations has started its own Wall to Wall Bach; though it is too chronological for my taste. But I thought of your blog after just accepting a scientific paper for publication (I am an editor of a scientific magazine) in which people just discovered the existence of a fat receptor in the mouth. Having struggled like you seem to have done, I feel somewhat calmer knowing that this struggle is no longer a moral issue. Rather I like to think that it is now simply that some of my neurons started to fire at the memory of the fat receptor exposed to some Parmigiano; I hope other neurons will suppress these taste neurons, but if they don’t, then I am resigned to this battle between harmony and invention. All the Best for the New year Jeremy from one of your fans

  4. Anonymous
    Posted January 2, 2006 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Hah, I love House and wish I could be just as sarcastic as he is with patients..esp those that absolutely get on my nerves.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted January 5, 2006 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Have you ever seen this poem attributed to Bach? (cf. Denk blogpost 12/17/2005):

    Whene’er I take my pipe and stuff it
    And smoke to pass the time away
    My thoughts, as I sit there and puff it,
    Dwell on a picture sad and grey:
    It teaches me that very like
    Am I myself unto my pipe.
    Like me this pipe, so fragrant burning,
    Is made of naught but earthen clay;
    To earth I too shall be returning,
    And cannot halt my slow decay.
    My well used pipe, now cracked and broken,
    Of mortal life is but a token.

    No stain, the pipe’s hue yet doth darken;
    It remains white. Thus do I know
    That when to death’s call I must harken
    My body, too, all pale will grow.
    To black beneath the sod ’twill turn,
    Likewise the pipe, if oft it burn.

    Or when the pipe is fairly glowing,
    Behold then instantaneously,
    The smoke off into thin air going,
    ‘Til naught but ash is left to see.
    Man’s fame likewise away will burn
    And unto dust his body turn.

    How oft it happens when one’s smoking,
    The tamper’s missing from it’s shelf,
    And one goes with one’s finger poking
    Into the bowl and burns oneself.
    If in the pipe such pain doth dwell
    How hot must be the pains of Hell!

    Thus o’er my pipe in contemplation
    Of such things – I can constantly
    Indulge in fruitful meditation,
    And so, puffing contentedly,
    On land, at sea, at home, abroad,
    I smoke my pipe and worship God.

    Johann Sebastian Bach – 1725 (1685-1750)

    From: The Second Little Clavier Book For Anna Magdalena Bach

    It is actually very Christian to enjoy life and its pleasures to the fullest.

  6. Posted November 22, 2008 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    This is my favorite…

    What’s goin’ on
    Bbrrrrrimm bbrrrrramm bbbrrrrrrrrraammmmm
    ding ding
    ben ben
    ding ding
    ben ben
    ding ding ding (12x)
    bon bon
    ding ding ding (12x)
    Bbrrrrrimm bbrrrrramm bbbrrrrrrrrraammmmm
    ding ding
    ben ben
    Bah bah baah baah ba Bbrrrrrimm bbrrrrramm bbbrrrrrrrrraammmmm eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
    ding ding
    ding ding ding (12x)
    doo doo
    ding ding ding (12x)
    Bbrrrrrimm bbrrrrramm bbbrrrrrrrrraammmmm

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