My wife and I attended the final concert of this season’s Klangforum subscription at the Konzerthaus last night. I was early so I went for a walk and then waited for her in the bar at a nearby hotel. It was a sunny, warm evening, so it felt good to be sitting in a comfortable chair at a table in a dark bar next to the whisky cabinet.
It took the waitress a while to find me, but I was in no hurry at all. I used the time to observe a couple guys at a nearby table and when that grew too depressing I looked at the single malts in the cabinet. They were beautiful and alluring, but when the waitress found me I ordered a gin martini. As I have mentioned before, I specify gin when I order martinis but that was unnecessary this time. Maybe they know me there by now. She asked if I wanted ice. This time I said no. She asked if I wanted olives or a twist of lemon, I said olives.
My drink came. I sat there and meditated on the single malts.
My wife called and said she was almost there. I considered ordering her her frankfurters and the glass of mineral water she wanted, but decided to wait until she arrived, to avoid the frankfurters getting cold and wrinkly. Service is fast in that bar anyhow. It was the right decision because she called a few minutes later, in tears. Right after she had called me the first time, a police officer had knocked on her window and pulled her over and gave her a €50 ticket for using a mobile phone while driving, but she was unable to pay because all she had was €40 so now she was wandering the streets of Vienna looking for a cash machine and the one the policeman had directed her to was closed and she didn’t know where another one was.
I said okay. I expressed sympathy and told her no problem, we have plenty of time and so on and I’ll be here when she gets here.
We did have plenty of time.
All the single malts, or many of them, had names that reminded me of Tolkein characters. “The leathery wings of the Laphroaigs beat the darkling skies like a drum, and their screeches turned Frodo’s bones to ice.”
“He is an archer, of the Lagavullin tribe.”
“And the race of the elves abandoned Tallisker, and sailed to the Western Lands.”
“Betrayed by the treacherous traiter Auchentoshan, King Glenfarclas died a hero’s death beneath the Giant Elm in his beloved Glendronach.”
“Is it a Cnoc? You have a Cnoc in your pocket, amirite?” hissed Gollum.
My wife called after a while and interrupted an epiphany I was having about Tolkein. She changed her order to champagne, no sausages. It was on the table when she arrived a few minutes later. As was my second martini.
The waiter also brought more nuts, dispelling my fear that they had my picture behind the bar with the note, “don’t give him too many nuts, he’s like a goldfish and will absent-mindedly eat them until he bursts.”
My wife was a bit stressed but in a better mood because she had been so miserable when she finally returned to her car that the police officer, who had been abandoned there by his colleagues, standing guard with her registration in one hand and the ticket in the other, took pity on her, tore up the ticket and told her to have a nice evening. So champagne was a good call, I guess – to take the edge off the stress, on the one hand, and to celebrate not getting a ticket after all on the other.
Something you should know about my wife is that she gets out of about half of her tickets by winning the sympathy of the ticketing officer. Not always, but more than me. We both have the same approach – throw ourselves at their mercy – but maybe she looks unhappier. I have, in fact, never gotten out of a ticket.
The concert itself was, as always, good. I didn’t fall asleep until the last piece, when the hall ran out of oxygen, despite having two drinks in me. As always in this series, they performed compositions by modern composers. All but one were living, and present, and took bows on the stage afterwards. We especially enjoyed the first piece, and the penultimate one, which featured electronics and a burping soprano (an idea I had considered for a composition, but discarded out of pity for my singer. I guess that is what separates the men from the boys in the world of composition).
Needless to say, we have renewed our subscription.