Mozart is the Bestest Westest Ever Composer

I was humming the second theme of the E-flat Piano Quartet when I pulled up at the little Plaza of My Needs. Starbucks, bagel shop, and dry cleaners were all in a row. Business before happiness, I told myself, though the lust for the brown liquid was strong; fight the urge, just a moment; I groaned; it was 10:02 AM and I knew I was close to missing the Dry Cleaner Magic Window: ever-changeable, mercurial, heartless. The Gods could strike me down, if I dawdled. A rather comatose boy of 18 stood behind the counter and referred all questions to a mysterious Polish woman in the back; she emerged finally, moved by my enigma; no, they could not dry clean the same day; no, they couldn’t press, either; and look you have spots on your white jacket, you need a cleaning anyway! This was intended to shame. But the concert’s Absolute Existence she had to concede; all her sophistry could not move my philosophical stone. Tonight at 7:30 a white jacket would be worn by me, no matter what, whether wrinkled spotted or striped, and my left hand would play E-flat major octaves, and spots anyway meant nothing to me, the artiste wandering through the landscaped lawns of the burbs like a coffee-starved polar bear in Bermuda.

(The coffee was necessary, I realized, as I composed the polar bear simile. A baby’s screaming on a distant plush chair was enough to disturb my equanimity.)

Polish Dry Cleaning Goddess was unhelpful, when asked for other same-day service: “Look around,” she riddled. Cunning Northern Sphinx! I looked; cars passed; the usual in and out of the delineated spots; the shunting digestive system of the strip mall. But across the road, the promise of the Orient: a Chinese Cleaners, with the alluring “SAME DAY CLEANING” stencilled on the window, like a fulfilled fortune cookie. But the hour was drawing late, 10:12, and I had no leg to stand on; I could only beg, plead, depend on mercurial mercy, on the kindness of strangers. Timidly the traveler entered, but the woman saw my crumpled white and black package and in it read some message that knocked her off her chair. She waggled her body in astonishment (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.) “NO, no, no we don’t do that!” she said as if I had asked her to participate in some unspeakable act. “We can’t clean that today.” I had a snarkish attack, pointing at the window; “I guess it was the Same Day Cleaning sign that confused me,” I said, and then, sending my sarcasm back at me, she became full-on hostile. “You done missed out on that,” she said, “You know you’re too late, don’t you give me that.” And I knew, I was so wrong, so very very wrong. But Mozart is so beautiful! This talisman had no effect.

Happy ending: shortly thereafter I gave thanks to a woman in a blue jumpsuit who took my white crumpled thing with a smile and promised to press it by 4. I pocketed my receipt, my shield against contingency, and congratulated myself on another close brush with Reality. I began to hum Mozart and ordered a heaping Venti, awaiting other Dragons to slay.

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7 Comments

  1. hari
    Posted June 13, 2006 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    by the skin of your teeth, a clean suit! the ghost of mozart must’ve been with you. have a great concert.

  2. Qais Al-Awqati
    Posted June 13, 2006 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    too bad we wont be there to hear it; am in Japan to give a lecturte in a meeting but everybody else is giving their lectures in Japanese; so here I am in Denkland for my jolt of upper west side life. My advice is to go to supermarket and buy something called SHOUT whenever a spot appears spray it on an brush spot away!!then buy small iron for emergencies. unfortunaely though these will prevent you from these encounters which will in turn deprive us from our needed dose of hilarity.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted June 14, 2006 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Jeremy, you were coolness times 500 at Hampden-Sydney, but now you are coolness times 501 because of your titular Mozart comment and rather amusing blog. I hope you have a great summer!
    Until the day when dry cleaners will become an anachronism,
    Kimberly
    (of the Verismo and Tooters fame)

  4. Anonymous
    Posted June 14, 2006 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    You’re playing in Atlanta July 21? Can you contact me? [email protected]. thanks.

  5. Claire
    Posted June 15, 2006 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    muahaha the dry cleaning saga!!!

  6. Anonymous
    Posted June 20, 2006 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Jeremy, since you are traveling a lot. You don’t really need this kind of stress.I would like to offer myself as your personal assistant.I will take care of your coffee when you wake up, cleaners and shine your shoes. And if by emergency, your page turner forgets to show up, I am here at the rescue. How about that? Just pay my health insurance and I will quit my job right away. Deal?

  7. Anonymous
    Posted June 22, 2006 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    But then we would miss out on all of these anecdotes. Organized, assistant-consulting Jeremy? No… It just wouldn’t be the same.

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