Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Damn Piano

Many of you accept the fact that I am a mild mannered semi-productive American citizen. Few of you know of my secret life, which is that of an invalid.

You see, my wife is blessed, or cursed, with a central theme in her life and that is to not pay full price for anything. When I am not dressed in raggedy shorts and scruffy tee shirt, which is my preferred attire, I am dressed in spiffy, name brand attire -- well perhaps not really spiffy since spiffiness requires a spiffy body to go along with the spiffy clothes. But I do wear fancy expensive shirts and slacks which my wife purchased at under $5.00 -- new and in unopened packages. Thus is the power that Ebay holds over her. If she could, she would buy milk and bread through Ebay or Craigslist if they offered it for 99 cents.

So two weeks ago she got it into her head that she wanted a piano. I reacted as I normally do. I ignored the notion, because I learned that sometimes if I ignored stuff like this it would go away. I knew the folly of rational argument like, "What the hell do we want a piano for?" She didn't play piano, and my sole expertise with the instrument was having to demonstrate my piano mastery, after months of gnashing lessons, by performing in front of an audience and jury in college. I think the composition was: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, complete with chords.

When Marilyn started showing me where we could put the piano and how it would look just perfect was evident that she viewed it as a piece of furniture which would fill out the living room just right.

This whole notion splattered against my sensibilities. I explained to myself that it gave her psychological benefit to have things. I'm not sure if this was proof of a underprivileged childhood or a severe emotional disorder. In fairness, I guess that my desire for experience over things was equally evidence of some sort of psychological trauma.

So I ignored the whole concept, confident that it would just go away.

My gut twisted when two weekends ago she said, "I found an antique upright piano for $200 on Craigslist. Let's go see it." That is when I started mumbling sage platitudes like, "We don't need more furniture." "Won't you feel silly when someone asks you to play it?" "Why have a piano when it won't be used?" "Do you know how much it costs to get a piano tuned?" "We have too much furniture as it is."

She would hear none of it, for she was already figuring out where we had to drive to see the silly thing.

I was considering the wisdom of putting my foot down but before I got around to it I found us driving 37 miles to see the antique piano.

The piano was in a large garage. The owner pointed out that it had a label on the back that indicated the piano had won a Blue Ribbon award at some event in 1894, and Marilyn "ooed" and "aahd" over the fact that the wood was tiger oak, whatever that is. I didn't care because I had a hidden trump card. "Marilyn, exactly how are we to get this thing to our house?" After all of these years I should have understood that Marilyn doesn't address future obstacles head on. "Oh, we'll figure something out."

She did ask me if I liked it and I mumbled something like, "Yeah, but..." She didn't ask me if I wanted it. Somehow it was a done deal.

Back home, Marilyn spent a lot of time calling around for piano movers. Do you know that the going price was $350! Of course, that was unacceptable. After three days my wife found two Mexican gentlemen that had a truck who would move it for $150. I pointed out that the piano was extraordinarily heavy and it had no wheels and there is no way two guys could move that thing. She brushed off this future obstacle consideration.

Last Saturday the truck with the piano arrived. It took one and one-half hours for them to get the piano off the truck and into the house, with a lot of grunting and cursing along the way. When they finally got it off the truck the piano started leaning backwards and the guys were struggling to keep it from falling. That is when I ran out there to provide extra muscle to keep it from crashing onto the pavement. Then, it was evident they needed help lifting it from the sidewalk to the porch, and then lifting from the porch into the house.

Did I tell you I was an invalid? Sunday morning I awoke with a ripping back pain. The kind of back pain that requires a fine balancing act to simply put on one's underwear -- one hand on the bathroom counter while delicately trying to thread a foot through the waist and leg opening of the underwear dangling from the other hand. Bending wasn't an option. The kind of pain where you are pretty sure that a hot bath with Epsom Salt would be smart, but couldn't figure out how to lower yourself into the tub.

Of course, this past week was the one week that I absolutely couldn't be absent from work. I learned that I could operate in fifteen minute cycles. After fifteen minutes of sitting, I had to stand. After fifteen minutes of standing I had to lean against something. Then I had to walk, slowly and deliberately. Then I cycled back to sitting. All because of the damn piano.

Today is Saturday. I am doing much better. Thursday night I had a session with my Massage Therapist who told me that my hips were sort of locked up. This morning, I go to another therapy session.

I would kind of like to see what that Blue Ribbon Award thing is on the back, but the piano is against the wall and too heavy to budge. Maybe we can hire someone to push it away from the wall and view the award and push it back. Craigslist. 

I was thinking that I could sue her for mental and physical anguish. But lawyers are so expensive. Wait -- maybe I could find a deal on Craigslist.


  1. well, at least it IS a pretty piano.

  2. I'm sure the soothing sounds of some piano music (Brahms??Schubert??) wafting down the hall are going to make it all worthwhile anytime soon.

  3. Great story Jerry! Funny thing I found a piano on FreeCycle in my area (for free!) not as nice as this beauty! Lucky wife! Sorry about your back! jane jones Chiccoreal

  4. I'm with your wife on this one, Jerry! There's nothing like a piano to give a room character and warmth, whether you can play it or not! I've had two of the old uprights, and they became the centerpiece for all my decorating, with old books, photos, and candleholders across the top. I cried when we moved from our last home and had to sell the piano, tears rolling down my face as it was hauled away. Enjoy, and maybe you can brush up on your Twinkle Twinkle as a stress reliever! (FYI, I keep a cane handy for when my lower back/hips are out, to help push up from sitting. It really helps.)

  5. I'm with you. No point in a piano nobody plays. I have a piano, but I do play it. Maybe you should encourage your wife to learn?

    Bimbi x

  6. I have to say that is a lovely looking piano! Who's the maker? (that's the name on the the little lid that lifts up over the keyboard? Ivory or plastic keys?

    I had to chuckle at this--My husband used to repair, rebuild and tune pianos, which means he also had to move them. Being the engineering whiz he is, he fabricated a moving dolly and a hand cranking lift so that he and I could move pianos--just the two of us! Oh, how I wish we lived nearby and could have helped you! Of course, we both have back problems these twenty years later--go figure! Get better soon!

  7. When I was a kid, we had a small spinet piano for my brother and myself to do our practicing on. We avoided it like the plague until threatened with a huge beating. Some years later, my dad gave it to me and my first wife. A year or so later, I traded it for a big color t.v. set. I don't think my dad ever really forgave me for that. And to make the story even sadder, when the young lady and I got divorced, she got the t.v. set!

  8. Oh Jerry, I'm so sorry about your back but.....I gotta go with your wife on this one! That is a true bargain and beauty! Despite all your pain and suffering you will one day learn to appreciate that piano. I'm sure it might take a long while though....

  9. No, no, no! I'm on your side. A piano must be played. Fortunately a suitably motivated adult human being can learn to play a piano passably well in a short period of time, way faster than a child can, so it's not like learning French or something. One of you two needs to do it. It maybe should be the one not lying down on the floor with his knees up in a chair (recommended for what ails you, by the way.) Okay, I believe I've solved everything, and I'll check out now. You're welcome.

  10. This all sounds so... familiar. Are you I? Am I you? Is it some cosmic confluence of metaphysical effluence?

    I, to, prefer experience to things. Much easier to move, most of the time.

  11. LOL!! Oh what men will do for their beloved wives... :) It really is a lovely piano though and I'm sure it made her very happy!! As for your back, that is a bummer! I always highly recommend a chiropractor, but if you have a thing against them, then Murr's suggestion is a really good one of laying flat on the floor with your feet up on a chair - my hubby does this a lot and it helps him :) Have a better week!

  12. My first wife wanted a piano, we bought it used and it was very old. I took it completely apart and refinished it, beautiful walnut.

    She got the piano in the divorce... I was so relieved.

  13. Sorry about your pain! It is a beautiful piano...
    My wife has also bought and sold many things on ebay and craig's list.