Sunday, November 26, 2006
Yet Another Reason I'm Going to Hell
Blind, French and an accordion player
Norbert was blind, French and an accordion player. He played every Thursday night at the French restaurant where I worked for many years, he and Spike, the bass player. I bartended on Thursdays. They set up at the end of the bar, and I served them their complimentary meal and drink before we opened. We had a rapport.
He was a sour man but likeable in his way. The music was your expected stuff—Edith Piaf and such. He also played requests, and the crowd knew what to ask for; there was a set of regulars who came every week.
One Thursday, early in the evening, there was a slight lull, and I, thinking myself rather clever, shouted out "Send in the Clowns." I had no expectation he would actually play it. Certainly, he would know it was me and just mutter some barbed French epithet.
He did not know it was me. He did not mutter. He played it.
It was awful—a slow and gruesome dirge—"Send... in... the... clowns...," each note both tentative and incredibly long. I pictured clowns, shuffling in, each one sadder than the previous, sobbing quietly into their endless, brightly-colored handkerchiefs, pulled from their seemingly bottomless pockets. I thought of shouting, "No, stop! It's just me!" but the damage was done, and I remained silent.
The song—in time—ended. The tight wince around my eyes softened. The disconcerted and hushed crowd turned back to their conversations. The moment passed. All was forgotten.
Except by me. I have not forgotten. And this black mark shall never leave my soul.
Today's Moral—Be careful what you ask for.