The accompanist

Last night I returned to a place I’d visited almost a year ago on my recon trip to New York. The first time I dined alone, giddy and somewhat terrified, for I’d just signed the lease on my sublet. The waiter sat me next to a tall man who hadn’t removed his scarf.

When I asked what vegetarian dish the waiter recommended, he stuttered, “Well, we have matzo ball soup …” I replied that I’d never had that and ordered the vegetarian burrito instead (and God, was it strange and awful).

The waiter left, and the man next to me said, “You’ve never had matzo ball soup?!?” I shook my head, and then the man laughed: “Neither have I.” Then he introduced himself. His name was Scott. I noticed that beside his water glass lay a music score, so I asked him about it. As it turns out, he’s an accompanist who also teaches piano at Columbia. So we talked about our favorite composers, among other things. He was headed to Denton the following month, which I thought was funny.

Then his cellphone rang, and after a brief conversation about a rehearsal, he said to his friend, “I’m sitting next to a [insert adjective] woman from Texas who plays piano,” and then he insisted that I say hello to his friend, who apparently didn’t believe that Scott was having a conversation with a woman. The phone call ended, and Scott had to rush out to his rehearsal. We exchanged numbers, but we never spoke again.

I’m fond of that memory.


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