Friday, December 07, 2012

A Dave Brubeck Memory

I tried to find our old Dave Brubeck LPs  when I  heard the news of his death, but the records have not been properly arranged since we moved in nine years ago.  We saw Brubeck with his sons a couple times here in Boston playing with Handel & Haydn which was a hoot.  Don't know if I saved any programs.

I heard Brubeck as a young woman in Houston, Texas.  My best friend Mary Kay was friends with a philsophy professor, very platonic; they were just good buddies.  She  conned him into taking both of us to the Dave Brubeck concert.  Of course I was thrilled, because as a starving student, I didn't get to a lot of concerts.

The evening dawned, and Dr. K. picked us up at the dorm and drove a ways from the campus to a little suburban ranch house, where we brought on board a young math professor who was going along.  Girls in the back seat, men in the front, or at least that seems the most logical seating if memory serves.

I remember seeing two or three tiny tots, some in diapers, toddling around the professor's yard, and a tired-looking wife schlumping around in shorts and a tee shirt.  Eeek!  Here we were all dressed up in our dresses to see Dave Brubeck and she was left alone with the kids.  If she gave us a dirty look, I can't remember, but I do recall that the whole situation seemed a bit bizarre.

We got to the concert and had good balcony seats.  Brubeck was fantastic.  I sure had never heard any live music like that!  The math professor got into the music so deeply that I don't know if he even knew where he was.  He looked like he was in another world.  I don't think he said a word to anyone all evening. 

We dropped the prof back at his house and Dr. K. took us back to the dorm.  Music to dream about. 

It was not until I was a young wife with two little kids that I started to feel sorry, big time, for the math professor's wife.  She was more long suffering than I ever was.

My "math professor's wife" occasion happened in New York at my husband's bosses house.  For dinner.  Kids along, and another employee with spouse (friends of ours) and three kids along.  I didn't get out a lot in those days,   and this was a big evening for me.  You know, driinks, adult conversation, a nice meal with the boss and his wife and some friends.  My kids were well-behaved, by the way.  Indoor voices, all dressed up.  Cute little blonds.  I ate three meals with them every day.  

When it came time to sit down for dinner a horrible thing occurred.  I was seated with all five kids and the boss's wife at a separate table.  Not even a man at the table.  Just women and children.  I recall  that I expressed an objection.  Can't I sit with the grownups?  Well, you would have thought I suggested smothering the kids and burying them in the basement.  Just about everyone present except maybe the boss told me to put up and shut up.  Outrage.  My objection was met with outrage, a wave of disgust and anger. 

So I sucked it up and ate with five little boys and the bosses wife who was used to making conversation with practically everyone, even a mother who didn't want to sit with her own children at dinner.  I was never really a good sport. Like my mom that way.

Some old wounds never heal.  I hope the math professor's wife has forgotten about the night her husband took off with a philosophy professor and two coeds to hear Dave Brubeck, leaving her with the toddlers. Everyone's kids grow up, and life plays out in expected and unexpected ways.  We remember and we forget.

And Dave Brubeck died one day short of his 92nd birthday.  I'm going to sort through those LPs one of these days, and I'll dig through the box of souvenirs to look for the Handel & Haydn program.  It was an honor to hear him play several times, both then and now.


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