How much do you pay a street musician? Sheldon wondered as he pawed through a pouch of unfamiliar coins. He hoped both to hide how much money he had and to avoid insulting the violinist who’d jumped on his train car at the previous stop. How could someone so old jump that fast? When was the last time that guy had washed his jacket? He played a pretty song, something Sheldon was sure he’d heard in a movie one time. He didn’t look like Sheldon imagined a French guy would look, so he decided that maybe the violinist was a Gypsy or something.
Despite the fact that there were signs posted in the car about not giving money to unlicensed musicians, he decided on a 2 Euro piece and gave it to the violinist when he came around with his palm out. The smile he got in return looked a little menacing due to more than a few missing teeth. Sheldon wondered if the man would buy a baguette with his 2 Euros, and knew that he’d be lucky to get 20 centimes in change if he didn’t find a good bakery away from the tourist traps. A Gypsy violinist probably knew more about finding cheap food than Sheldon did, and probably didn’t even mind eating canned tuna.
Sheldon hated canned tuna, but loved music — even though he didn’t know how to talk about it.
He thought people who knew how to talk about music sounded really smart, especially because of the look they got on their faces when they compared artists they loved to other artists they loved more. Sheldon collected CD after CD and downloaded everything he could off of the internet, but when he listened, it took him so far away from his thinking place that he had no idea how to articulate the experience when he returned. He worried that learning more about music, how to talk about it, deconstruct it, or even to play it would ruin his enjoyment. It was like how learning to write ruined books for him – he just couldn’t get caught up in the experience of a story anymore. The movie in his head didn’t play when he read, which he felt was a terrible loss.
Maybe, he thought, it’s best to let music remain a miracle.
Originally posted 19 July 2010