Hurricane Arthur.

Dreams…….the most awe-inspiring phenomena of “ordinary” life, yet humans have been experiencing them for thousands of documented years. The fact that entire stories can play out in our heads, while we sleep? and, we…remember them? upon waking? ……Here’s another:

It’s a concerto competition for student musicians, but held in the basement laundry area of a college athletic building. The panel of some twelve or thirteen Grade B celebrity judges, each more caricatured than the next, is arranged around the clothes folding table in various seated positions, appearing not unlike a session of the Last Supper.

I, of course, am a hired accompanist. The first entrant is David Sabatine, a former elementary student of mine who started out on sax and is now a fine electric bassist heard around town. But, he is competing on violin, and the piece is Schumann-like.

We round the bend into a heavily-syncopated section, he on the beat and me between. I become aware of the encroaching, extraneous combined sounds of a washer and a dryer. Things get very muddy.

Fudging our way to the end of the movement, we are excused and I attempt to approach the panel to intercede on David’s behalf, citing the vibrational interference of the washer and dryer and taking full responsibility for the outcome. The panel is cold, imperious, mean, and merciless; they give me no audience.

The next contestant is the beautiful, powerful, and sensitive Nadine Sherman, whom many of us know to be an equally-amazing cellist. Only she, like so many characters in dreams, is not really Nadine; she simply appears to be, in face and form. Her behavior is the very antithesis of the lovely young woman we know and adore.

I am momentarily startled to find that she has expected me to accompany her piece, the music for which I do not have. She declares to me that I was expected to provide the music. I, in full remorse mode, insist that I will sight-read it if somebody can produce the accompaniment.

What happens next is the typical, parenthetical somnambulent turbulence. For purposes of relevance, we can call this the “Hurricane Arthur sequence”. Vague, intense, anxiety-ridden moments of action and reaction follow and, emerging from this psychic rubble is an unknown female, resembling the newest viola hire in the ECO whose name escapes me; she appears to be a friend of Nadine’s, a pianist, and yes; she will play….but, only for reimbursement.

Up until this point, the issue of pay has not been a factor in this scenario. I recede into the role of observer.

The two girls begin to discuss their predicament. Here’s what emerges. In the next room, we suddenly see a display of brightly-painted cardboard furniture that resembles the set of PeeWee Herman’s Playhouse. Nadine has, apparently, purchased this furniture to populate her apartment, using the last $25 in her student budget. The pianist proceeds to ream her out, complete with wagging finger, for wasting the last bit of money in her wallet on this monstrous indulgence instead of saving it to pay her accompanist.

Nadine sits down, puts her beautiful face in her hands, and begins to cry. I look upon her with a wisened and morally-neutral expression, wondering whether I should speak or comfort or walk away. But then, in that classic twist of dream-weaver irony, over which none of us ever has any control, I wake up. Hurricane Arthur has made landfall and, once again, I marvel at the storms that swirl through the human head in the night.




© Ruth Ann Scanzillo


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