My friend Cindy had a birthday last week.Â We wonâ€™t talk numbers because those are an irrelevant marker to a life well lived.Â Letâ€™s just say Cindy is aging with a mighty beautiful patina.Â This is a woman who recently wore a dress that fit her so well the term â€œPippa Buttâ€ was bandied about with envious appreciation each time she bent over to greet a friend.Â And, she has a lot of friends, so there were a lot of appreciative looks.
To celebrate Cindyâ€™s birthday, her much, much, older husband brought her to a fundraiser called â€œDueling Pianos.â€Â (Lest you think her husband lacks romance, this event was their second of three nights of continual partying.)Â Accompanying Cindy and her husband were their adult daughter (with boyfriend in attendance), and their adult son with his new bride.
If youâ€™ve not been to a Dueling Piano event, let me explain how it works.Â On stage are two pianos that face each other like sumo wrestlers of the musical instrument world getting ready to clash.
By sheer coincidence there are also two piano players with gi-normous tip jars at the ready.Â The audience is given pads of paper so they may request songs of the piano players.Â BUT! Â If those requests arrive on the pianos with lovely green money attached, the likelihood of those songs getting played goes waaaaaay up.Â Likewise, birthday persons and other celebrants can get, um, special recognition with a bit of cash lubrication.
Cindyâ€™s adorable children pooled their money and snuck, ninja-like, up to the stage.Â They tossed a request and a wad of bills onto Charlieâ€™s piano like a small hand grenade, and then cleared the space before the fallout occurred.Â Cindyâ€™s children are smart that way.Â Charlie looked at the request, and then at his piano partner for the evening, Daina. Â There were subtle nods between them. The smell of conspiracy was in the air. Â Well, it was either that or nachos.
Priming his voice with a swig of beer, Charlie announced that his harmonica holder was no longer working.Â If he put it up to his mouth the wing nuts failed, and the harmonica drifted downwards quicker than a horny man thinking aboutâ€¦well never mind about that.
Charlie said he needed a real live person to be his harmonica holder for the next song, which would be Billy Joelâ€™s The Piano Man.Â Who (Cindy) would be willing to come on stage?Â (Cindy, Cindy, CINDY!)Â â€œWillingâ€ is Latin for â€œyou have no choice,â€ by the way.Â Cindy did her best dead-man-walking imitation and ventured on stage.Â As she so eloquently put it, â€œForget Fifty Shades of Grey.Â I was Fifty Shades of Pink.â€
Nonetheless, Cindy and her fine, fine, Pippa Butt worked the stage like a Minnesota version of Beyonce channeling Tina Turner.Â There were gyrations and shimmies.Â There were gasps and heavy breathing.Â (Mostly because she had to get around his piano stool and there wasnâ€™t much room, but if you squinted it looked like she was dancing.)
Cindy handled Charlieâ€™s, um, harmonica, like sheâ€™d been doing it for years.Â Her children hooted and cheered as the music played.Â (Look for their obituaries soon.)Â The audience roared their appreciation and sang verse after verse after verse as Cindy gamely paid her birthday dues.
Cindy, you know I adore you.Â If anyone can wear the cloak of grace and beauty under those circumstances, it is you.
La la la de de da
la la de de da da dum
Sing us a song, you’re the piano man
sing us a song tonight
Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody
And, Cindy, you’ve got us feelin’ alright!
Teasing Cindy–in the most loving way–is the best part of my day. Happy Birthday!