Cabbie: Where to?
Me: Symphony Hall, please.

[pulls away from my hotel, turns right, begins to careen down Powell Street]

Cabbie: So, you a musician?
Me: You got me.
Cabbie: I knew it. What do you play?
Me: Piano.
Cabbie: I bet you know your middle C pretty well.
Me: [attempting wit] C is pretty solid. Still working on D and E…
Cabbie: And those thumbcrossings. Eh.

[Ensuing pantomime of a thumbcrossing–possibly a major scale. One or both hands leaves the wheel. He looks back to smile at me. Car in front of us stops suddenly. Dumbstruck me. Somehow he notices in time, abandons scale, swerves, brakes. Near-death. We survive. Diminishing panic. Other driver is accused of stopping “too late.” Drive resumes.]

Cabbie: So. I had piano lessons.
Me: Is that so?
Cabbie: Yeah. The teacher told me “no, you’re not doing that thumbcrossing right,” and I told her go to hell, I’m going to play football.

[I silently reflect this is the shortest piano lesson story I have ever been told, and perhaps the best. This man probably speaks for piano students everywhere.]

Me: You ever regret not sticking with it?
Cabbie: [Conspicuously unregretful in tone] Yeah, all the time. You know San Francisco at all?
Me: A little.
Cabbie: Well, there used to be this piano shop round here which my friend owned, and it connected to a deli. You could walk right through from one to the other! You know, piano salesmen are like used car guys, with all the extra charges, and the one-more-things. Anyway, I worked the deli for a little while, to help my friend out cause of some trouble … that’s another story … and so one day I was working and the shop was about to close, it was ten to six and we closed at six, and the Opera called, and they wanted some sandwiches!
Me: OK.
Cabbie: And so these two women came in, and I was still making their food, and the one, her accompanist, walked into the piano shop, and the other one asked me if I minded if she sang, and what am I gonna say? I don’t want a free concert?! So they sang, and it was amazing. Beautiful. Really good.
Me: Nice.
Cabbie: So I fell in love with her.
Me: Really?
Cabbie: It’s true I did. And you know I took her out and you know…
Me: Really?
Cabbie: Yeah and this went on for like a week or so. I sent her flowers and all that crap.
Me: Hmm.
Cabbie: Then one day she was like, you know I have this dilemma, there’s this guy in Sacramento and he’s very close to being my fiancee and I just don’t know what to do. And after that I never heard from her again.

[Silence. Very close to the hall now.]

Me: [Stammering] I’m sorry.
Cabbie: No no, it was a great experience, you know.
Me: Yeah. Can I pay with a credit card?

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  1. Anonymous
    Posted February 10, 2006 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    My teacher told me I was pathetic and if I didn’t drop the class that instant he’d kill himself!! What the hell did he expect, it was a beginner class and it was only the second week! *sigh* I guess Jingle Bells was his favorite song and I just butchered it.

  2. ramashka
    Posted February 10, 2006 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Hi Denk! I’m back!! Concussions are no fun. Still remembered your blog though. Doctor says that’s a very good thing. Yep yep yep. Got a lot of posts to catch up on. I see now you have a little performance calendar. Looking forward to going to some of those concerts!!
    see ya

  3. soundtrk
    Posted February 11, 2006 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Great story, I loved it. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Claire
    Posted February 11, 2006 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    hahahaha that’s a great story sad but great

    lol you probably don’t remember me and if you do then you probably think i’m nuts lol – i saw you last night at the mondavi i’m the girl with the josh groban shoes 🙂

  5. Claire
    Posted February 11, 2006 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    oh and bartok rocks!

  6. Claire
    Posted February 12, 2006 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    hey yet again … i’ve done a little (well not so little) blurb in my blog about the mondavi concert go check it out i have a couple pics at the end too!

  7. George
    Posted February 13, 2006 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Truly enjoyed your concert in SF with Joshua Bell – a great collaboration. You looked like you were enjoying yourself. Please come back often.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted February 13, 2006 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    On behalf of the City of Los Angeles, I apologize for all the applause between – and during!!! – movements of your recital Sunday. We have lots of newcomers at Disney Hall, which is a good thing. Working on concert etiquette.


  9. Anonymous
    Posted February 14, 2006 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    Like the old days, when music was alive, audiences coming in and out of the opera house/concert hall, chatting, applauding. No concern for interrupting the “sacred relic” that it has become today. Discuss (don’t get verklempt either). Wake them up LA!

  10. Language Lover
    Posted February 14, 2006 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful performances in both Saratoga and SF; I attended and enjoyed them both. Would you please consider the Saint-Saëns D Minor Sonata as a subject for one of your detailed analyses in the future? I loved the work, and only wish I had the training to appreciate it on a deeper level.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted March 2, 2006 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the magnificent recital in San Francisco! I hope you come back soon. (I just started reading your blogs a couple of days ago – thanks for the insightful musical interpretations and fun musings!)

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