Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Bachelor Vignette / Beethoven, Day 7


Ten years ago in The Life and Times of Michael5000....


So, it's late 1997, and I'm teaching at a small Midwestern university, and I'm dating a brooding, neurotic colleague from over in Modern Languages. Neither of us are very happy. We do not communicate well.

On this particular night, however, things have been reasonably pleasant. We've had a nice dinner, and we are moving on to the only available nightlife in this city where our careers have landed us, a city which, despite being very small, is still quite dull for its size. It's going to be a great night. We are going to rent a video.

Now it just so happens that most of the employees of the video store have taken classes from Dr.5000, and they have been, shall we say, underachievers. The quality of their work has not allowed me to give them the grades they had hoped for. So as we enter the store, I quietly share a confidence with my girlfriend. "I've flunked everybody who works here," I warn her, "so we might catch some glares."

So we go in the store, and we start looking at movies, but I quickly realize that the emotional temperature has dropped. Precipitously. I'm getting one-word answers to questions. She's avoiding eye contact, she's tight-lipped, she's standing a careful four feet from me, and if I suggest a title she spits out "Sure. Whatever." Clearly, I'm in trouble for some damned thing or other, but I have no idea of what it is.

We come to some sort of tense agreement about what we're going to watch, and get in line to pay. The hostility is palpable, but in a fit of optimism I decide I'll try one last time for a pretense of normal, cheerful conversation. Gesturing towards one of the cashiers, I confide "To be fair, that one is actually really smart. She just never turned in her term paper."

"Oh!" exclaims my girlfriend. There is a sudden thaw. A broad smile dawns across her face. "Oh!" she says. "You FLUNKED them!!!"


------


Friday
Countdown to Beethoven's Birthday
Beethoven's Seventh Symphony

The Seventh is another favorite. It has a very distinctive beginning that, I'm told, is very difficult for an orchestra to get right. Everybody has to hit that first note hard, together, and then get right off of it so that the quiet little woodwind line is clear. After a minute or so, this alternation between crashing all-orchestra punctuation and lilting song-line morphs into an aggressive Beethoven melody of rising arpeggios, and we're off to the races.

It stays good all the way through. I won't beat it to death with description, not on a Friday. Drschnell says that there's a great cello duet in there somewhere, so that's what I'll be listening for.

Have a great Beethoven's Weekend!

23 comments:

Rex Parker said...

It took me Way too long to understand why your anecdote was funny.

RP

PS Beethoven's 7th rules. My favorite symphonies of Beethoven (a street here in town which people occasionally unironically pronounce BEETH-OVEN), in order:

3, 6, 7, 5, 9, 1, 8, 4, 2

G said...

That is freaking hilarious.

Chance said...

That is a fantastic anecdote. A fantactidote, if you will. It's a good thing she was in modern languages, or she might never have caught on.

Rebel said...

LMAO! It took me a minute to catch that.

The [Cherry] Ride said...

Ha! Great story!
So where in the Midwest were you?

fingerstothebone said...

Lets hear more of those anti-Mrs.5000 stories!

Jessica said...

Oh my oh my oh my. I can't believe she was silent. I think I would have exclaimed, "What?!" as I either slugged you or died laughing. You know, depending on how cute they were.

Karin said...

That's f-ing hiLARRYious!

That's the biggest laugh I've had all day. No, all week. No, all month. It's been a rough month.

More of that, please!

Michael5000 said...

@Rex: Hmm, the top nine list... wonder what mine would look like?

@chance: That's a good point. You get back too far, and ancient languages don't even have a word for "flunk."

@[Cherry]: Let's just say that if Blythe or Mr. Shain wanted to drive north up I-35 to visit someplace really cool, they might choose this little town. As a place to stop for gas.

@fingers: I hate to be pedantic, but I really need to distinguish between "ante-Mrs.5000 stories" and "anti-Mrs.5000 stories." I don't really have any anti-Mrs.5000 stories. That's why she's Mrs.5000.

@Jessica: as I either slugged you or died laughing. You know, depending on how cute they were. Don't you mean, depending on how cute I was?

@Karin: Sorry you've had a rough month. Try listening to some Beethoven! Or Sting, whatever.

fingerstothebone said...

Hmmm...antipasti, antimeridian, anticipation, antimrs5000...it works for me! I refer you to http://www.wordinfo.info/words/index/info/view_unit/152

Michael5000 said...

@fingers: I love to tell you this, but your own source notes the following:

ante-, ant- (Latin: before, in front of, prior to, forward; used as a prefix) Compare this element with anti-, meaning "against". Anti-, with the meaning of "before", is found in very few words....


Not to quibble.

Michael5000 said...

...although having said that, I should add that I've always wondered what about "antipasto," which I've always read as "antipasta," was against pasta. Also, whether, if pasta and antipasta were ever to meet, the result would be a catestrophic explosion that would rend the very space/time fabric of the restaurant.

But I digress.

fingerstothebone said...

Yes, but that's what's so great about using anti instead of ante, it can go either way and keeps everyone guessing. Makes life more interesting...

Michael5000 said...

You're just antiante.

G said...

And you are both hiLARRYious, as Karin would say.

karmasartre said...

"I love to tell you this" -- I have never come across another human ('sides me) making that twist. Of course, I thought I was the only one in the world addressing his animal with "You da dog" until I heard one of Harlan's feed-store mates addressing Harlan's bloodhound with the same words in "Best in Show". If all my original thoughts aren't, I'll feel so anti.

fingerstothebone said...

karmasartre—"I'll feel so anti"—maybe you're really feeling apres, if your thoughts are coming after someone else's. And just for the record, I loved to tell Mr.5000 something (can't remember what it was now) before he loved to tell me this! (Yeah, lets hear it for the pedantic dorks!)

Michael5000 said...

It's true: "I love to tell you this" was a fingery homage.

Chance said...

I don't have a dog in this anti/ante fight, but I'm going to steal the pedantic "I love to tell you this, but..."

gl. said...

oh, my god! i'm so glad i went back to catch this one: funny, funny story! and i'm waiting to see who draws first blood in the anti/ante challenge.

but um, what does it all have to do with beethoven?

Michael5000 said...

I love to tell you this, gl., but Beethoven didn't have a dog in that particular fight.

Karin said...

This is such a great place to be. I love it here! :)

Eversaved said...

Hahahaha!
I'm glad I'm not the only one who has accidentally "confessed" sexual encounters in awkward terms.