Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Aging with the music

My friend Evelyn and I have been going to a chamber music series sponsored by the University of Washington for about fifteen years—maybe longer. I looked around the audience at the recent concert by the Philharmonia Quartet and realized the entire subscriber group (many of whom have sat in the same seats for all those years) has been aging together, traveling parallel down our various life roads. Most of us were old then, fifteen years ago, so we’re really old now.

A sudden mental image flashed into my head. What if all of us keeled over at the same time—say, in the slow movement of a late-period Beethoven quartet? Because this thought occurred to me in the middle of the slow movement of a late-period Beethoven, I had to quickly change the subject in my mind so as not to burst out with a very inappropriate giggle.

When I arrived at the hall beforehand, I handed my ticket to the young, fresh-faced usher at the door and smiled with sudden recollection. Fifty year ago, I, too was taking tickets at the door of a UW theatre as part of a very part-time box-office job. I remembered all the old people who come through the door back then, veritable textbooks of aging, just as most of the concert-goers last week were—limping, bent over, wrinkled, and blue haired—slow moving women and men who apparently savored an evening out. How could I possibly have known how the tables would be turned in 2011? Now I was one of those old people. In response to my smile at the usher, I received a patronizing grin and greeting: “Enjoy the concert, m’am.”

I’m betting the young usher was thinking exactly what I thought fifty years ago, which was something akin to, “I’m never going to get old,” or “If I do get that old, I’m not going to let my feet hurt.” I only hope that, sometime in her seventies, she’ll attend a concert and enjoy the same delicious irony.

1 comment:

ginicar said...

I've been reading about various forms of government and others' chicanery so this picture of you wanting to giggle in the concert came as an especially welcome break. It made me laugh out loud and I can't get enough of that.

It also reminded me that some years ago when I "discovered" "new music" and fell in love with some of it a musician who was a part of that trend wrote about how difficult it was to engage people of boomer age in the... what? genre? I tried to recruit my 45 ish ultra informed son as an appreciator with no success. Maybe they have to grow old to appreciate the "new"?