Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tuxedo

A week or two I mentioned that I was auditioning to play cello in a community orchesra over in Princeton. The rehearsal and audition went fine and now I'm in an orchestra again. I couldn't be happier. The music is fun--definitely a challenge. The people are very friendly. And the conductor has high expectations for us and the ability to deliver on those expectations. Among the pieces we're playing is the slow movement from Beethoven's Seventh--easily my favorite movement from a Beethoven Symphony, and pretty high on my list of All-Time-Really-Great-Music. At the first rehearsal, I saw the copied music for the Beethoven--it started at page 6 or so and there was no title, so I started fumbling through the folder for pages 1-5 of whatever this was. Finally, after a few minutes, I actually looked at the notes and realized what it was. I was already quite excited to be starting this cello/orchestra thing--to find this movement from Beethoven in the folder was like winning some sort of cosmic lottery. Pretty sweet.

Playing in many bands over the years--and very few orchestras--I've never needed to get a tux before. Perhaps it's just tradition, but bands rarely seem to go in for that tux thing, while orchestras are crazy about it. The orchestra I played in in Maryland was populated with quite a few college students and I don't think they went the tuxedo route because they didn't want to put that burden on the young'uns. I played trombone in an orchestra once also (somehow fooled them into thinking I could play trombone half-decently), but there were quite a few students in that group too, so we went with regular suits there.

Bottom line: time to buy a tux. I've been working from home for quite a few years. Before that I was in a business casual environment for a while. And before THAT I was a suited salaryman. So it's been QUITE a few years since I've walked into any kind suit shop. I ended up going to a Men's Warehouse, and was in and out of there reasonably quickly all things considered--but I must say, that was quite a lot like buying a car. They shuffle you through, read you a long list of rules and clauses, make you sign something to acknowledge your name is in their computer correctly--the salesman goes into the back room to find a tailor and hands you off to her, making sure to whisper the part about you being a musician and needing some room to move around. Then he swoops in to negotiate delivery dates, then he hies you on over to the money guy to complete the messy financial transaction. Goodness. I must say the most enbarassing and endearing moment was when the cashier/data entry tech of this well-oiled-suit-and-tuxedo-juggernaut asked me my month of birth. "March," I said. I saw a panicked look in his eyes, then some counting on fingers, a scratch of the head. He stared at his computer screen, lost. Finally, I realized what was going on. "That would be 3," I whispered. "Oh, yeah--thanks," he said, breathing a sigh of relief and turning a little red. Tuxedo-Store Crisis averted.

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