Recently, I was visiting someone at a hospital, where there was featured a piano in the main lobby. It was cordoned off with those velvet ropes that I’m certain hardly look imposing to a musically inclined toddler. But to an adult, those velvet ropes are serious business.
They’re featured in banks to keep account holders from rushing the tellers as during the Great Depression. They’re also used in movie theaters to hinder cinema-loving freeloaders.
I wondered about this piano, though. I mean, I’m an experienced, professional musician, not some kid who’d pound his fists on the keyboard like Jerry Lee Lewis. Shouldn’t I be able to skirt the velvet ropes so I could tickle the ivories a bit?
(I don’t think I’ve ever written the words skirt, velvet, and tickle in the same sentence before, maybe not even the same paragraph.)
If I sat down and started playing, would the friends, family, and clergy of the ill, those waiting in the lobby, look at me aghast at such a grievance as hopping the velvet ropes?
What would I play? Something classical? Chopin? Maybe light jazz or some Jim Brickman. Showtunes might be a bit out of taste if they’re too Broadwayish, like that Warner Bros. singing frog (“Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal”), but something from Les Miserables that sounds all depressing could be welcome. Would a tip jar be too presumptuous?
Maybe I should put a setlist together so I could be ready when the rebel in me propels me past the velvet ropes to the shiny, black, though usually cheaply made, baby grand. Sure, they’ll charge $4,000 for a night’s stay but won’t shell out for a decent Yamaha to place in their lobby.
Alas, it’s really just a piece of furniture. Nobody ever plays it.