Remember “Let’s Make a Deal” with Monty Hall? And remember the Zonks? That’s when you would pick what was behind such-and-such a curtain and instead of the hoped-for dishwasher or snowmobile, it would be announcer Jay Stewart in overalls, standing there with three goats and a broken-down tractor, while lovely Carol Merrill stood off to one side, laughing in seeming surprise and bewilderment.
Life has delivered one Zonk after another to the Bergs over the last several days, the most recent being what you see in the above photograph. Last night, as I pulled into our driveway after a long and taxing day, I was greeted by the sight of our garage door opening up only a third of the way. It had been a little stubborn and reluctant to go up earlier in the weekend (for Kathy) but after a couple of tries it went up- but last night it absolutely refused to go up all the way, no matter how many times I tried it. So it meant slipping under the door (up about two and a half feet off of the ground) to get into the garage, and then disengaging the door from the opener so I could open it up all the way by hand. But I discovered the hard way that said garage door is incredibly heavy, and that when I went to open it the old-fashioned manual way, I nearly crushed two of my fingers in the attempt. In fact, as I walked away from the just-opened door I could scarcely even feel those two fingers – except for the pain – and wondered if I had just inadvertently disabled myself just one week before I’m supposed to be playing piano for 18 young musicians at solo/ensemble contest. So I did the only thing I could think of to do- I took a really hot bubble bath and tried both to get my fingers to feel better (which they eventually did) and to try and forget all the headaches of the previous 48 hours.
One of the biggest happened to me on Friday afternoon when I attempted to videotape my opera class for the sake of the lacrosse guys who had to be gone for a match . . . and try as I might, I could not get that camera from the library to record. It had power but nothing I pressed or clicked or adjusted would trip it into record mode. . . and all the while I have 15 students sitting there, probably thinking that they had Calvin Coolidge for their teacher, so inept am I with these sorts of technical matters. Finally I just gave up and realized that I would have to recreate the class for them another time. Then I couldn’t get my first videotape to play and I found myself mightily resisting the urge to just throw back my head and scream bloody murder. (Eventually the videotape did begin to play.)
Fast forward to Friday night and my frantic preparations for Kathy’s cast party at our house. I had my little list of things to do and thought I had everything calculated so that I could slip out for a few minutes to catch at least part of Carthage’s musical theater workshop performance. But then picking up the subs at Subway took longer than I expected, and then I couldn’t find something else. . . so by the time I was in the car and on my way to Carthage, it was 8:15…. and by the time I walked into the recital hall, the program was over and the entire audience was gone. (Five of the singers were still there, chewing the fat with their teacher, Corrine Ness.) I felt so bad to have missed it – and at the same time was lamenting the fact that I drove all the way to Carthage and back for nothing. Fortunately, I did manage to get everything done and the party was a nice success, but the day and evening left me a frazzled hermit in the corner.
Fast forward to Saturday morning – the morning after the party, in which the last guests left after 1 in the morning – and I have to be at Carthage by 9 for prospective student auditions – and I am realizing at 8:30 that my car keys are nowhere to be found. I am running all over the downstairs, frantically looking under cushions, behind furniture, in the pockets of coats I haven’t worn in weeks, to no avail. (And of course I had to look in my car, too, on the off chance that they might have fallen on the floor in there – which was a dispiriting chance for me to see how temporary my most recent cleaning turned out to be.) Finally, in desperation, I run up to our closet and come back downstairs with jeans and a sweatshirt for my barely-awake wife to throw on so she can drive me to Carthage . . . and on our way, the McDonald’s drive thru has eight cars in line, so that means no breakfast either. And because I had a musici amici rehearsal over the noon hour, that meant no lunch either – so I lived all day on diet cokes and chocolate chip cookies. (At least we heard some good students, and I’ll blog tomorrow about a former student of mine who was one of the stars of the day.)
Fast forward to Saturday evening. . . by this time, Kathy had come to Carthage with my car keys, which she found in our bed, buried in the sheets. (Don’t ask me why or how they got there.) And she was leaving me her car since she could go to the RTG with our current houseguest, who’s working the show with her. And she had very kindly arranged for me to go over to Polly and Mark’s house so Mark could answer my questions about how to download these opera class videotapes and get DVD’s burned. Little did I know what a ridiculous undertaking this would be. The videotape itself (we’re tlaking now about Wednesday’s class, which I DID manage to successfully tape) had to be downloaded on to our computer, which had to happen in real time – and then it takes almost that long for the film to be “encoded” (whatever the heck that means) – and then it takes ANOTHER hour to do the actual burning of the DVD. And by the time I stumbled out of there, I realized that I was going to have to scrap all of my plans for videotaping my opera class and figure out some entirely different way to deal with these excused athlete absences. Taping / encoding / DVD burning was going to take me hours and hours and hours . . . and that’s if things come off without a snag or complication. It’s a scenario that has “Going Postal” written all over it.
And yet, as I walked out of Polly and Mark’s later that evening, feeling as though life had punched me in the you- know-what’s, I realized that I was so lucky to have someone like Mark – so smart about computers and with all the patience in the world with a cro-magnon man like me for a student. And i was so lucky to have a wife who finds a way to locate my lost car keys and figures out the logistics for making a monumentally bad situation as good as it can be. And I’m lucky to have colleagues like Corrine who will say in all sincerity “it’s the thought that counts” when I have managed to miss a performance. And I’m especially lucky that all ten of my fingers are working fine today – and that I won’t be trying to figure out how to play the accompaniment to “O had I Jubel’s Lyre” with eight fingers rather than ten.
And I’m lucky that not all days are like the last two days have been . . .