Friday, April 27, 2007

Our Rachel

Looking over this entire school year, including both semesters, I have realized that I have done a good number of relatively cool things. Perhaps I could even go as far to label these "cool things" as "accomplishments". Acting and directing in both theatre festivals, acting in "Office Hours", getting my wisdom teeth removed, seeing Olya at the Toronto airport, going to Nova Scotia with Andrea, and hosting numerous extremely successful dinner parties have been a few of my small feats this year. As much as I am happy with these said accomplishments, I don't think anything can compare to our piano acquisition.

Yes, my friend Kyle and I have successfully adopted an upright piano. Months ago at a board game night, our friend Rachel told us about a dusty, decrepit, old piano sitting up in a room on right side-stage of the Centennial theatre at Bishop's. She was telling us how one of the older staff members, Johnny, would freak out the students when they were hanging lights by slowly playing the low notes on the piano. Kyle suddenly jumped up and asked excitedly if the piano belonged to someone or if it was in use. Rachel was pretty sure it wasn't and didn't think it really belonged to anyone. Kyle then turned to me and proclamed that we should inherit this piano. We should ask this Johnny guy if we could have it. It was then we agreed to be partners on this piano-getting mission, as both of us are piano players, and the piano would stay in my Lennoxville house until I graduated and he moves in. We decided that we should co-own this piano. Of course, we were getting a little ahead of ourselves, as the piano was still just a pipe-dream.
Later on that evening, as Kyle was putting on his shoes, he said that we should start asking around right away. He immediately gave the responsibility to me, as I had worked a few times with Johnny and I am female, which, apparently, gives me an edge.

I must say, I am usually bad at approaching strangers or even those I don't know that well, but this time I perservered. I knew that Kyle would be disappointed if I wussed out and just having another keen person working on a project with you makes you all the more motivated. One day when I was working the bar at Centennial, I casually asked Johnny about the piano in side-stage. He said that a few years ago, the main drama professor had used a few pianos for some reason and then, when she was done with them, had asked for them to be demolished. Of course, Johnny was shocked that something like this could even be suggested (the destruction of such a beautiful instrument, what?!), so he promptly hid one of the pianos way up by Centennial. Never mind why he chose that very random area, but it is just mind-boggling to think how he got the thing up there in the first place. He freely offered up the piano, saying that it is useless there, just collecting dust. I said I was definitely interested, as long as the piano was salvageable. He was pretty sure that it was but that it was probably a good idea to check it out.

A few days later, I asked a certain Simon, whom I believed to be knowledgeable in the ivory keys area, to check out the piano. Upon seeing it, he believed it to be salvageable; the piano would need to have keys re-weighted, a good tune, and a solid scrub. After weeks of trying to co-ordinate times with Simon, Kyle, and Johnny and failing repeatedly, we finally were able to move the piano. Kyle and I found Johnny, found two other guys to help move the huge thing, and the moving process began. I was utterly amazed that it took under an hour to drag the pian down two flights of stairs, across Centennial theatre, outside, into Johnny's truck, up my porch, and into my living room. Johnny even had time for a cigarette break! Kyle was shocked as to how strong Johnny is; it turns out that he is made of muscle. After the back-breaking work, I paid the guys in beer and thanked them profusely, but it wasn't enough. How on earth can you pay back someone who has moved a piano into your house, everything being completely free of charge? I was elated, and Kyle and I couldn't stop grinning all day.

Almost every day after that, Simon came over and worked on the piano. Kyle and I supplied him with everything he needed (spending a total of $12 on materials). We offered to pay him for his work, but he didn't want our money. We then always offered him food and drink, which he accepted gratefully. One of the last evenings I was in Lennoxville, Kyle and I cooked up a large feast for him, completely with spicy sausages and trifle for dessert!

Since I have left, the piano has undergone tremendous repairs. Every single key works, two of the three pedals work, and the piano is pretty much playable. All it needs is a good tune up, and then voila, we will have a beautiful, working, real-life piano! Simon is even keen to varnish it, as the piano has beautiful woodwork, and varnishing it would make it look terrific. It is funny to get so excited about an instrument.

Kyle and I have named the piano "Rachel", as it was our friend Rachel who first told us about it. Next school year, we plan to have a christening party for "Rachel", and we will make sure to invite all of the piano players we know and like, in addition to our usual crowd. I still am over the moon that Kyle and I are proud parents of Rachel. Also, our trusty piano fixer is staying at the house this summer, so I can be rest assured that she will be in very good hands.

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