Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tales from the Artside: The egg lady at Christian Tetzlaff

Violinists like Mr. Tetzlaff are hardly a dime a dozen . . .

You know, just when you think you've seen everything . . .

. . .  you see something new.

Take last Sunday at Jordan Hall - site of a wonderful Celebrity Series concert, btw, by violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt. I'll soon be raving about these two; but what was almost as memorable as their performance was a little drama that transpired in the aisles before this talented duo even hit the stage.

The kerfuffle began at the back of the orchestra, when a young usher suddenly descended on a patron as she began to head down the stairs.

"I'm sorry, ma'am!" he called - extending a hand to block her way - "But you'll have to leave those at coat check!"

He nodded downward, and I realized by "those," he meant a half dozen eggs this music-lover was toting under her arm.

"Excuse me?" the lady in question responded, blinking slightly.  Her hair was windswept - actually, uncombed; and she was not, as they say, in her first youth.  Like many a concert-goer of a certain age, she was dressed in a sensible manner that nodded toward a sense of occasion, but also communicated an air of slight disarray.

"Your eggs," the usher said calmly.  "I'm afraid you'll have to leave those at coat check."

"Oh, these!" she chuckled.  "Don't worry, I'm not going to throw them at him." (For some reason I assumed she meant Christian Tetzlaff rather than Lars Vogt.) "They're for Easter," she explained with a smile.

"I see," came the reply. "You'll still have to leave them at coat check."

"But I need them for Easter eggs," she answered again, with emphasis, as if that should prove persuasive.

"That's nice." The usher was unfazed.  "You'll find them after the concert at coat check."

"But they could break them at coat check!" the lady suddenly cried, as the seriousness of her situation seemed to dawn on her; and she more tenderly cradled her parcel beneath her arm.  (They were good-sized eggs, and quite white, with only the faintest dusting of speckles.)

"What's going on here?" A more peremptory usher, with a sapphire streak in his hair bright as a peacock's plume, had joined the conversation, as waiting patrons were piling up in the doorway.

"This lady wants to bring her eggs into the concert," the first usher sighed.

"Her Easter eggs," the patron corrected. "And I've already explained to this young man that I'm not going to throw them at anyone!"

"Yes, I see, but I'm sorry!" This usher evinced a slightly more condescending authority.  "You must check your eggs, ma'am!"

As the unyielding nature of this response sank in, a slight chill descended, and for a moment I wondered whether some of the eggs might be broken then and there; but then suddenly the second usher smiled.

"Just - humor us, okay?" he said.

The egg lady stared for another long moment, then glanced at the coffered ceiling of Jordan Hall in utter exasperation. "Oh, for heaven's sake!" she sputtered.  "Have you ever heard of such a thing?" she asked the crowd.

And to be honest, I don't think any of us had.

This hardly tempered her mood, however. "All right," she snapped, "I'll check them! But they're going to break my eggs, I know they will!" And she continued to mutter this dire prediction - but nevertheless headed back to the lobby.

And coat check.

The ushers glanced at one another in relief, then one of them caught my eye.

"What is the matter with you," I said.

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