Sam was tall and skinny and smart.
And I thought: knowing how to act smart would be cool to know.
One night I sneaked into the bar.
Sam was alone, sipping a bourbon and water.
It wasn’t my style to go right up to people, but since I was trying to be more butch, I figured I had a right to be forward.
Sam gave me a drop dead look, when I said hi, so I scared up something to say:
“That’s a mighty nice ring you got on!”
“Yes…It’s a cat’s eye,” Sam said. “People who wear them are witches.”
I wanted to roll my eyes but instead I said, “Geeee…You’re a witch!?”
“I most certainly am!” Sam said, “That’s how I knew that you were going to traipse over here to disturb my peace!”
I grinned: “You knew I was gonna do that!?”
Sam stuck the finger with the cat’s eye on it into his drink and stirred: “Absolutely.”
It took weeks of persistent niceness on my part to convince Sam that I could use some teaching, but eventually he took me up as a student.
One day Sam sat me down and made me listen to a Symphony.
It so happened that a movie about this dude was on the classics channel that night.
It was called “The Music Lovers.”
This Tchaikovsky was a miserable little closet queen!
His miserable music was used as the background for scenes of total misery in the movie, and the most miserable: the last movement of the Pathétique Symphony, was saved for the end.
In that scene Tchaikovsky is dying from cholera while his wife gets tied up in a loony bin.
The scene shifts from Tchaikovsky to his wife. Tchaikovsky gets deader, the music gets louder, and his wife gets locked up in a dungeon
I realized that in a way, they both had died, and all of it was timed to the music.
This was the first time I’d ever noticed anything about how a movie was made.
I read the credits and rushed off to tell Sam what I learned.
He stopped me just as I was getting to the part about the dungeon and said: “Superficial! You’ve missed the point of the film, Bobby!”
Then he looked at me as if I’d broken something. “Would you like me to tell you the point of that film?”
“The film is about life’s tragedies. And do you know what the greatest of those tragedies is?”
I shook my head no and watched as Paul placed a record on the turntable and took a swig of bourbon. “It is the destruction of genius by mediocrity.”
And the Pathétique Symphony began.