I've been away from my computer for the last few days because the very thought of having to focus on those tiny esoteric symbols we commonly refer to as letters would have been the visual equivalent of the Big Bang. In short, I've had a migraine. This head implosion of mine which began as a crummy headache - most likely brought on from reading yet another Dan Brown novel - showed its true colours on the subway coming home from work two mornings ago.
As those telltale tiny white lights appeared before my eyes and the pain began to do the mambo in my blood vessels, I contemplated cancelling my afternoon class. As I sought a sign from the heavens whether or not this was a prudent course of action, the subway doors opened and two buskers entered the car. Two buskers with instruments - an accordion and a guitar - and, as history would soon prove - very loud voices. They stationed themselves directly beside my seat and began to strum and press buttons and depress levers and squeeze things and sing very lustily.
If you have ever had a migraine or even the soupçon of a migraine, then you know that having two Peruvian musicians strumming and pressing buttons and depressing levers and squeezing things and singing very lustily is probably the closest thing to torture in its purest sense without the aid of a Nazi or a KGB agent. Or Paris Hilton singing. If I had indeed sought a sign from the heavens, this was surely it.
Three stops later and I transferred to Linea 2 not because it'd get me home any faster but I had to get away from the Juan Valdez Twins. Just as the whistle blew a great bear of a man boarded the car with his accordion. Sweet mother of god. Faster than you can say jesus h. christ my head hurts, he breathed fulsome life into the bellows of his squeezebox and off we went on a whirlwind tour every Biergärten ever built in the Free State of Bavaria. I've seen him before - and given money to him on several occasions - and I swear that he recognized me because nodding and smiling at me, he came over beside me and played seemingly for my benefit only. I gritted a smile and willed my brain from seeping out from my ears and nose.
I crawled home and ate pills. Today I resurfaced.
Now, it's been quite a while since I've lived in a city with a metro system; in fact, it's been about 11 years. So I freely admit that wandering underground minstrels are rather new to me - I've seen them in the tunnels before in other cities but never actually on the trains. (Undoubtedly I've just proclaimed to the world that I am a hick.) Anyway, it came as a bit of a jolt a few months back to have my earnest and careful reading of Don Quixote shattered by the incredibly amplified opening notes of Vivaldi's Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, i.e., "la primavera" or Spring. And when I say amplified, I mean with a portable amplifier. These musicians - singly or in pairs - play a tune, pass a cup around and then leapfrog to another car.
What amazes me is that for the most part, these musicians are really good. But what really amazes me is how much money they appear to make. After any given serenade that I've been an audience to, I've watched a goodly handful of commuters stuff 20- and 50-centimes and 1 euro coins into their cups. This for 3 minutes of work. I dare say they earn more than me. I dare say that wouldn't be too difficult.
Now I've been told by Señor Gato Gringo that many people of our generation will change jobs a minimum of three times during the span of their careers. This is something virtually unheard of in our parents' generation when you retired from your first job after 50 years. I believe I am currently on career #4 and certainly #5 (6, 7, & 8) can't be too far off. So it's good to know that, in the near future, should I acquire any aptitude playing an instrument or any talent rendering a passable tune - both skills which have been hitherto denied me - I too can become a busker.
Can't wait to tell my Mom.
Addendum: apologies to the friends, family and fans of Grammy Award-winning accordionist Walter Ostanek, (pictured above left). It's (I said it's not he's) something of a family joke. I should have used an image of an accordion but I have no self restraint. No apologies are offered to the friends, family and fans of Yosh & Stan Shmenge, aka, the Happy Wanderers (pictured above right).