Music and Meaning
We met for tea, juice and scones the way we used to meet for real drinks and fancy sampler platters at half past six in some spot looking down at Market. I drink much less now, and he drinks not at all. The dog I gave him for the holidays six years ago may be dying, and I agree to tend to it Saturday night while he's on a date.
"Provided you don't have a date," he says with the usual after-the-fact concern that is more than familiar.
He laughs with genuine amusement when I counter, "A date, at my age I'd settle for a fig."
Hasn't he heard this a thousand times before? I've lost track myself of how many time's I've offered it like a plate of circus nuts.
We saunter across the street to Virgin Megastore, and he seems genuinely concerned when I mention speculation that it may soon be out of business, the final big box retailer offering music as tangible collateral, not some abstract concept that might disappear with the passing of a giant horse shoe magnet.
Both of us mask our likely disdain for the others selections as we sort through discs. All those years ago when he appeared at my door, he expressed such interest in what he might learn from me, like Ms. Doolittle arriving for tutoring to work in a shop or Leonard Bast following one of the Schlagel sisters through the rain from the "Music and Meaning" lecture, filled with pragmatic intent to recover his umbrella now lost in a sea of others in an exquisite porcelain vase in the hallway.
We part once more, neither finding anything of interest. I saunter up the hill, compelled to buy The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, a volume that called out to me months earlier but disappeared into some obscure mental cubbyhole. I realize that he never cared about the difference between Ives and Yves Saint Laurent, and I find myself searching for why the former once meant so much to me.
Walking home in solitude, its very essence brings a faint second of despair, and then I begin humming, finding new meaning in the lyric:
Flying too high with some guy in the sky
Is my idea of nothing to do
Music, meaning and lost umbrellas make me glad to be heading home.