Sunday, April 6, 2008

Two-and-a-Half Songs With Diana Krall

One of the perks of Bob's job is the occasional chance to fill out a corporate table at a black-tie event. Last night we were on the list for An Evening with Diana Krall, which was a combination cocktail reception, concert, and fancy-schmancy dinner dance to benefit a concert hall in our city. (If you have been stalking Diana Krall, now's your chance to figure out where I live.)

Sometimes I can think of about 50 things I'd rather do than try to make conversation with people I don't know across a 60-inch round table in a noisy ballroom while wearing a dress that requires me to hold in my stomach. But this was one I was really looking forward to. We had a fun table; for once I was able to wear something I already owned; and it was the first time in weeks that Bob and I had anything more exciting planned for Saturday night than Law & Order reruns.

The concert began at 7, and, due to an unfortunate mascara accident shortly before we had planned to leave home, we were running late. We only had time for a few sips of wine before we worked our way with the crowd to our seats.

Bob and I and our crew had, oh, only about the best seats imaginable!!!!! We were smack dab in the middle of the second row, ideally located to watch Diana play and sing.

Now I'm going to make a confession here: I'm not much of a music fan. Say that to people, and you get the same sort of response I imagine greets statements like "I don't like kids" or "no thanks -- I don't care for chocolate." But this is MY blog, and I'm just being honest. I'd rather listen to All Things Considered than the latest CD.

So it's saying something that I know who Diana Krall is, and that I was actually excited to see her.

And what a treat it was.

Sure, she sings smooth like butter, and really, the only word you could use to describe what she was doing to that piano was tickling its ivories.

But she was also loads of fun to watch. She had on an adorable black cocktail dress (Diana, if you read this, could you please tell me where you got it? Because we have another of these corporate events in a couple of weeks and I'd really love to wear that dress.), black-and-white stilettos, and a gorgeous diamond bracelet that danced on her wrist. She also wore her hair, which is just so enthralling that it's really not fair to the rest of us who ended up with plain vanilla, just-a-head-covering hair. Diana Krall's hair is an accessory. It's long and blonde and very, very shiny, and if her grandmother were around she'd keep pushing it out of Diana's eyes and saying "Why won't your mother buy you a barette?"

So as the first song begins, I'm sitting there in satin and sequins, watching this great-looking woman play this great-sounding music, and my handsome husband is on my left and one of our dearest friends is on my right, and I'm feeling fine. It was going to be a great night.

Diana finished, and started another song. And then Bob leaned over in his seat, as if he was searching for something he'd dropped on the floor.

In a moment, he was back up. "That was Ben," he whispered. "I just missed a call from him."

"Don't worry," I whispered back. "If it's an emergency, he'll call back."

Immediately, Bob bent over again. This time, he was down a bit longer, before he was back with the whispering.

"It's an emergency. They're okay, but he and Billy were in a wreck."

This did not come as a surprise to me. Every time the phone has rung for the last 22 months -- in other words, since Billy got his drivers license -- I have known he had been in a wreck. Finally, I was right.

Considering he was sitting in the middle of a concert, Bob couldn't give me elaborate detail, but he managed to relate the following:

1) They'd been rear-ended.

2) The rear-ender in question was an 85-year-old woman who was refusing to get out of her car.

3) The two cars (plus another I'll write about tomorrow) were in the middle of three lanes on one side of the busiest highway in town.

4) The police were on their way.

This was all from a message Ben had left. I knew my boys would want to talk directly to a parent, and I wanted that parent to be me. So as Diana finished the second song, I got up from my choice seat and, stabbing only a couple of insteps with my stilettos, made my way out of the concert hall.

I called Ben from my cell phone (Billy was busy being the responsible "adult"). He actually sounded fine. The car in front of them had stopped suddenly for a light, which caused Billy to stop just inches from the front car, which caused the little old lady to drive her Olds '88 under the rear of the hand-me-down van Billy drives. Ben reported that Billy couldn't get the van to start.

Which meant that, though the kids were fine, a parent was going to have to go pick them up and talk to the tow truck driver.

And the parent on the phone, having wanted to avoid bringing a purse, had left her car keys at home.

Which meant that the other parent, who was still listening to Diana Krall with a set of car keys and his wife's lipstick in his pocket, was going to have to go get them.

I called Bob. (By this point I'm sure most of the people sitting around him thought he was feeling awfully faint, but they probably thought it was Diana's mesmerizing hair.) He met me out in the lobby, where it was completely impossible to hear the concert, and I told him where he would find the kids.

Now, if I'd been an incredible music fan, I probably would have gone back in. But I wasn't sure exactly what was going to happen. The kids might need to call again, or Bob might have a question. I just felt a psychic need to stay where I could easily answer my phone. So as Diana sang and played and (I heard later) told charming stories, I sat in the lobby, sipping a glass of wine that the sympathetic house manager had brought me.

Sitting in the lobby outside a Diana Krall concert is, in its own way, entertaining. And educational.

Here is what I learned.

1) Spanx are not necessarily a girls' best friend.

I'll grant you that the area actually encased in Spanx beneath your clinging, satiny ball gown will look firm and reasonably fat-free. Unfortunately, too many women (and I fear that heretofore I have been one of them) have failed to think critically about Spanx and ask the obvious next question: Just where did that fat go? Based on an informal visual survey I conducted while waiting for phone calls in the lobby, it generally gets shoved up or pushed down, which means that the back view in many a form-fitting dress looks a bit like an upright dumbell. Ladies, do what I now plan to do: NEVER leave the house again without giving your back half a careful and well-lit review in a full-length mirror. Better yet, find yourself a velvet caftan in a flattering color and leave the silky backless dresses to the prom girls.

2) Ice sculptures are heavy.

During the five minutes we got to spend at the cocktail reception, I hadn't noticed the four-foot ice thingy in the center of the lobby. But it was hard to miss once six male members of the catering staff started to take it home (wherever home was).

The ice was wrapped in a blanket, and three men were on either side. Maybe it was because I was in a concert hall, but I thought to myself that it appeared the corpse of Luciano Pavarotti was being escorted outside the building.

But it is good that it wasn't Pavarotti, because just as the pallbearers stepped over the threshhold, the front end of the sculpture started to tip, and the men started shuffling faster, and the next thing everyone knew the ice Pavarotti had fallen on the sidewalk and shattered.

I don't think it had a long life ahead of it, unless maybe it was headed home to a freezer to wait until the next Saturday night someone needed an ice sculpture. Still, it was kind of sad.

3) Catering work is exhausting.

I know this because, as I sat sipping my wine and pondering Spanx, a woman wearing a shirt labeled "Catering Staff" walked through the lobby and announced, "I'm too tired to have sex tonight."

I'm not sure who she was talking to. Perhaps she was speaking into a Bluetooth phone, or was just finishing a conversation she'd begun as she walked through an adjoining room. Maybe she just wanted the world -- particularly her fellow catering staffers -- to know she was headed home to a hot bath, a good book, and some sweat socks. (Frankly, she needn't have worried. The guys who'd been wrestling Pavarotti were probably pretty well wiped out themselves.)

I wanted to suggest that perhaps she'd experience an energy boost if she put down the three-foot long, armload-sized roll of Saran wrap she was carrying, but she buzzed through pretty quickly and I didn't get the chance.

Anyway, the time passed fairly rapidly, and I'd heard from Bob that he'd picked up the kids and would be taking them home as soon as he got them some dinner (which was where they'd been headed when the little old lady drove into them). So I decided I could finally go back in.

I found a seat in a folding chair against the back wall and, peeking over the sound board, began to watch and listen. It was wonderful.

And then, that song was over. As was the concert.

Two-and-a-half songs into my evening, Diana and her band stood up, took a bow, and left the stage.

Oh sure, there was an encore. But just as that started, my phone vibrated, and I had to go back to the lobby. It was Bob, calling to find out if the concert was over yet.

It was for me.

The evening wasn't a total loss. My kids were fine, for one thing, and actually kind of excited that maybe the van would be totaled and we could finally replace it with something that wasn't quite so embarrassing. The dinner was absolutely delicious, and due to the fact that I'd had an unfortunate evening, there was not a single calorie nor gram of saturated fat in my tenderloin with leek mashed potatoes and crab Bearnaise sauce. Plus, Bob and I had certainly gotten out of the house.

And we went home with two Diana Krall CDs, which were party favors for the guests at the benefit.

I'm going to listen to them tomorrow. Just as soon as All Things Considered is over.


MommyTime said...

You are so lighthearted about what would have been so easy to view as a terrible disaster of an evening. My hat is off to you.

Perhaps my perspective is skewed since I'm still in the land of the $10 per hour babysitter (yes, shocking, I know. I used to earn $1 an hour...) -- so I would be crying in your situation. Then again, if my four year old were rear ended in a car he'd been driving, I guess I would have more to worry about than my missed evening. :)

I'm glad you can look on the bright side of this. I'm very glad your boys are okay. And I hope the cds help make up for the missed concert.

Jenni said...

Diana Krall is so amazing. I would have been really disappointed. But I'm glad the boys are okay.

So did the old lady ever get out?

Wonderfully written post!

Janie said...

Great post!