When he asks me if I notice anything different about his wife, I hesitate.
This is a much loved regular couple, whom I only see from fall to spring, when the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is in session, and season ticket holders attend their concerts.
“She’s just as lovely as always, Sir”, I reply.
He hugs me and confides that this past summer, her Alzheimer’s has gotten much worse. He no longer has a partner, more like a platonic friend. He says I am one of the few people left whom she recognizes and mentions by name. And for that, he is grateful.
For a long time after he leaves, I think about the horror of forgetting, and also being forgotten.
It’s been a long and tedious week, and really, what of any of it, at the end of the day truly mattered, or was even remotely as impactful as this man living the slowest, most agonizing of deaths?
Not the opinions I had on recent management decisions.
Not the man who snidely asked me if I ever played in anything other than C, “for example B-Flat.”
Not the other man who complained that my playing was “so aggressive that it was actually accosting” his ears.
Not the hostess who called me a fucking-smart-ass-know-it-all when she said that water was her favorite element to a guest wearing a Periodic Table patterned tie, to which I rolled my eyes and informed her that a water is not an element, a molecule of which is composed of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen.
Not the former server who posted a nasty rant about me on Facebook, calling me a never-has-been and insinuated that my private sex life was nowhere as pristine as the purported reputation I seemingly valued above all else, “just ask the boys in Ferndale and Birmingham.”
Not the delusional couple who wanted details of my audition, believing that I had studied at Julliard, making me lie on the spot to save face, by saying that I had started in the acting department but eventually found my way to the jazz program, in my sophomore year, from which I eventually graduated summa cum laude.
It all faded away.