Moral of the story: A piano in the band is worth two in the bush.
Story: An Alabama friend of mine who also owns a shotgun house in old New Orleans bought a piano at an estate sale. An estate sale in Auburn. A piano for the house in New Orleans.
For the purposes of this story, we’ll call the friend John. John Bedford.
John, who is passionate about music – especially live music – had been told by a wonderful New Orleans jazz pianist named Nelson that he needed a new piano. John needed a new piano, not Nelson. Nelson often plays the piano in John’s shotgun and found it lacking.
Are you confused yet?
Most of us, when told by a superb pianist that our piano is not up to snuff would have shrugged, sighed or otherwise ignored the professional. We might have had our pianos tuned.
Not John. When he found a rather good deal on a better piano at a sale, John acted. But that left the problem of just how to get the better estate-sale piano from the house in Auburn to the house in New Orleans. Did I mention that there is a house in New Orleans?
This is where John’s Auburn friends and visitors come in, making this story sound more like a joke: “How many Auburn graduates does it take to get a piano on a truck?”
Answer: “Four. Three to do the heavy lifting, and one to video the ordeal.”
Betty, the smart one, figured out what size piece of plywood to cut in half and use for rolling the piano through the yard toward the truck. She also figured we could keep leap-frogging the heavy instrument all the way to Mobile, Ala., if necessary.
And so we began the long roll. Betty and Annie and Janie and I pushing. John pulling. Richard videoing. We also had a peanut gallery – people sitting in rocking chairs and sipping lemonade and laughing – but we won’t count them, as they weren’t absolutely necessary.
I’m sure as he tugged on the piano John was thinking about all the delightful hours he would spend in his gallery, listening to Nelson tickle the ivories. I, on the other hand, was thinking I’d like to rip the camera out of Richard’s hands and hit him over the head with it. Janie was thinking we might all die in the name of live music. Annie was thinking she was sorry she ever agreed to visit Auburn and wondering why all she bought at the sale was a box of sheet music.
Betty, meanwhile, was figuring how to get the piano off the plywood runners and onto the back of the truck. Which, along with John, she did. Betty is also the strong one.
As soon as John discovered the truck’s emergency brake was on and that the truck wasn’t really too loaded to move, he drove off to the West. He only needed a hitch-hiking Jack Nicholson to play that rolling piano as it went down the interstate.
Another moral to this heavy story: A piano a day keeps most friends away.
Rheta Grimsley Johnson is a syndicated columnist. She lives in the Iuka vicinity. Contact her at Iuka, MS 38852.
NEMS Daily Journal