Thursday, 2 October 2008


Enjoyment isn't all about quality. It's about timing, too. When you are hungry, food tastes good. The most memorable meal of my life was not a seven-course tasting menu with wines to match, but a plate of Kraft Dinner mixed with chunks of canned ham, which I ate at the end of a very long and exhausting trek into a campsite in the dead of winter. Timing, like I said. You know, I can still recall the first bites -- even the charred grit from the side of the cooking pot which got mixed into the cheese sauce tasted wonderful.
I don't want to extrapolate my argument very far, because the perfect meal would then appear to be the one just before you are about to starve to death. I don't like that picture much. But there is something important about our capacity for enjoyment that depends on context.
Which brings me back to music. Stumbling upon a baroque concert in the course of a long drive is a wonderful feeling. I settle back in the seat, turn up the volume and bask in the sound. But what if the concert is never-ending? How long can you bask? How long before you've had enough? I love a beach vacation, but I don't think I'd like a beach life.
(Another quick thought has to do with the chance of stumbling on the concert. If I have it on disc, and can access it at any time, it's not the same. More on this next time, I think.)
I've stopped listening to my all-baroque-all-the-time radio channel. I sampled down the remote, trying alternative rock, Franco-pop, and instrumental new-age channels, and have been appropriately amused, bemused, and lulled. I just this minute switched to the chamber music channel, and am enchanted by a hyper-romantic piano trio I really like and rarely hear. So I'll stick around for a bit. But I don't know how long that bit will be. What if the next piece sounds like sewing machines? A lot of chamber music does, you know. I fear boredom.
A few evenings ago I came downstairs to find Imo reading on the couch with the TV tuned to the big-band radio channel. She was smiling along with some very up-tempo Fats Waller. Pretty good, eh, Dad? she said. I agreed. The song ended. Next up was Goodman. Then Ellington. Imo's smile widened and widened. You know, I could listen to this stuff all day, she said.
Good for you, I said. I don't know if I could.
She laughed at me. I love it when she does that. Well, geez, Dad, of course not. You don't have any attention span.
Maybe that's my problem.


Marilyn said...

Oh no, she thinks you're the kid and she's the parent.

Richard Scrimger said...

No no -- she knows that she has to go to bed when I say so. But she also knows that I'll soon forget that it's bedtime. RS