Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Uncomfortably, in Skinny Jeans

Pulling the dresser drawer open, she gasps. [!] A lone pair of jeans grins mischievously at her. She realizes that, between the overflowing laundry basket in the corner near the bed and that half-unpacked suitcase of clothes out at the "summer house," only one pair of jeans is ready for the wearing. She silent screams ----- "Not the skinny jeans, oh noooo!" and begins throwing open closet doors and other drawers. Clothes fly across the room. Brown corduroy skirt? No. Ragged, paint-stained khakis? No, no-no-no, no. The bottom half of her dress-black concert attire? Ha! Absolutely not. She looks again into the drawer and tentatively pulls out the jeans. They unfold crisply--once, twice--in Jacob's ladder fashion, and seem to want to stand on their own: they have not been worn since their last washing. Howling to the empty apartment, she reluctantly pulls them on and proceeds to put her hair up and make her lips pretty. She leaves the apartment in an exaggerated goose-step, attempting to rediscover herself in the old jeans.

Clothing and closets aside, everyone must, at times, wear their skinny jeans. The opera diva singing an art song recital. The high school principal teaching tenth grade history for a year. The M.D. mixing chemicals in a laboratory. The sous chef waiting tables. The improvisor reading music and the "collaborative pianist" giving a full-blown solo recital. We often play roles that, even if distantly related to the work at which we're most adept, fit awkwardly. Taken from our familiar comfort zone, we wiggle and squirm and watch our sincere efforts amount to a sub-par performance. (Who knew that teaching tenth graders could be so damn hard, right?) I thus find it puzzling--in music--when the purists seem so eager to slap the wrists of those who experiment with multi-media.
Everyone is into multi-media, and if you ain't got "visuals" or at least 2 DJ's it can't be music! ... We are seeing a decline in pure concert music, simply because the other forms of pleasurable intellectual entertainments are so many and so overwhelmingly promoted. Art always needs a gimmick, or a hook, but that all there is?
No, I gently remind my dear friend, that's not all there is. Virtuoso soloists still give recitals, and symphony orchestras still present programs of pure concert music. But those models, so long held up as measures of greatness, don't fit everyone. People shouldn't wear jeans they really don't want to wear. I admire the musicians who've found a way to work--a niche, a comfortable fit--that gives life to their creative instincts. Who cares if it's "pure" or "multi-media" as long as the work "fits" the performer! When a performer or composer or tech assistant finds the best fit, they will excel; though sometimes finding what fits is as difficult as finding that perfect ass-kissing pair of jeans.

And she realizes, too, that it is worth putting on the skinny jeans now and then. Waiting with her friend at the bar, a young gentleman behind her murmurs, "nice ... jeans!" a confidence-boosting comment that amuses her and her friend throughout their dinner. The confidence lingers until the next day when she returns to her tree-shaded practice retreat and slips into her soft, old-favorite pair of jeans. The day is productive and satisfyingly creative, a very good day.


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