MORE THAN A MONTH has passed, and Doug has expanded his list of potential piano-owners. He’s emailed everyone he knows: the parents of kids to whom he used to teach piano, PTA and Boy Scout contacts, every musician he’s ever known. There are a lot of these last. Some are trying to give their pianos away. I have a confession to make here. I don’t tell Doug about pianoadoption.com. I really admire Brian. But adoptions of any kind can take a really long time. And my wallpaper’s come in.
“Just let me call Gemma once more,” Doug says. She still doesn’t have the money for a mover. But another call arrives, from a man named Jim. On a lovely spring Saturday morning, Jim comes to see the piano. He strides into the dining room, a big gruff guy in jeans and a t-shirt, and taps the keys. He finds the two that don’t work right away.
“What else is wrong with it?” he asks.
“The soundboard is cracked,” Doug admits. He’s told this to all the potential owners. I’ve reminded him about caveat emptor; it’s up to the buyer to beware. He argued back: “A cracked soundboard makes a big difference. It’s expensive to fix.”
“You’re giving the damned thing away! And it’s not like any of these people are Beethoven.”
“It’s not like any of them are Warren Buffett, either.”
Jim stands and contemplates our piano. “For a hundred bucks,” he finally says, “I’ll take it off your hands.”
I catch my breath. Just like that, we’ve gone from FREE PIANO to paying to have the piano gone from my life. And I’d hate to tell you what I paid for that wallpaper.
Doug isn’t happy at this turn of events, either. “We have a few more people who are interested,” he tells Jim, who shrugs:
“You’ve got my number, man.”
After he’s gone, Doug glances over at me. “I wonder if for another 50 bucks he’d take it to Gemma’s apartment,” he says.
At this moment, I realize two things. First: I married the kindest, most thoughtful, most sensitive man who ever lived. And second: He is never going to get rid of the piano.
“You aren’t seriously contemplating paying Jim to take the piano to Gemma,” I tell him.
“For another 50 bucks … ” His voice trails away.
And he married a bitch. Caveat emptor. “No,” I say. “No. Not going to happen. Set a date for Jim to take it away. Set a date soon.”
After a flurry of last-minute calls with no takers, he finally does. On another sunny Saturday, Jim comes by, flips the piano on its side, removes the legs, loads the body on a hand truck, and bumps it down the porch stairs to his truck. He and Doug stand at the curb for a long time, talking. Then Jim drives away.
“I thought there might be someplace that could use it for parts. But he’s taking it to a landfill,” Doug says glumly.
“Too bad,” I say, and go online to order an Oriental rug.
The wallpaper’s hung. The table came in from the garage. The rug looks spectacular beneath it. The silver candlesticks I got for our wedding are perfect on top. We’re hosting a big family party for the Fourth of July.
It recently occurred to me that what I did was get rid of an object of great sentimental value to Doug and replace it with an object of great sentimental value to me. Marriage isn’t really a balancing act. It’s more like war. And you can’t seat eight for dinner at a piano. People should be more careful what they get sentimental about.