Saturday, May 20, 2006


When my sister Jessica was at Juilliard, she told me that during finals week people would insert razor blades (sharp side up) between the keys of the pianos in the practice rooms - just as a way of thinning out the competition a little. Of course this had never actually happened to her. It was a story she'd been told, a bit of highly specialized collegiate lore, almost certainly untrue: the razor blades would cause the piano keys to stick really badly, and you typically warm up with scales and exercises. You don't just sashay into a practice room and immediately launch a full frontal Prokofiev concerto on an innocent piano, for God's sake. So the blades would get discovered before they could do any damage.

Great legend, though, isn't it?

Yesterday I heard a very similar story, though, from my ex-husband, who's in his last year at the Texas Culinary Academy. One of his final dishes was a rack of lamb, crusted with something or other (to be perfectly honest, the principal thought that runs through my head when he describes the dishes he prepares is, "Oh, so now you cook"), with a red pepper sauce. Someone, he doesn't know who, dumped a whole jar of cayenne pepper into the sauce prior to presentation.

The sauce was on the side and he was able to work around it, came out with a very good grade, and ultimately was flattered that someone considered him enough of a threat to make such a gesture. I guess it's just as well there wasn't a bottle of cyanide lying around.

It's a weird thing, hanging around with my ex. I was only there to drop off my son, but now we've been divorced on friendly terms for so long, it's kind of obligatory for me to stand around and chat with him for a while, accepting food and drink when offered, and visiting for as long as it takes to consume said refreshments. His mother always watches us hopefully when this happens, because he still lives with her, whereas I have an apartment - but she can put on her pajamas, because I'd rather play Prokofiev on a razor-blade-rigged piano than hook back up with my ex. No offense! It's just that I've been there, done that, and Goodwill ended up having to throw out the T-shirt.

Myself, I'm still waiting for someone, anyone, to consider me enough of a threat to try to eliminate me. I guess that might have been what happened at my last company, though considering the rate at which they've gone through people I can hardly take it personally. Ah, well, it may yet happen.

On Monday when I go to work I'll be sure to check for razor blades in my keyboard.


At June 12, 2006 2:40 PM, Anonymous Jessie said...

dude... total urban legend (how pathetic are music majors' urban legends...?!?!) but i had heard it before i got there and did wonder as to the logistics of fitting those things in between the keys... because, as you well know, i sometimes do launch a full-frontal attack on my prokofiev concerti. the bastids.


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