Pretty Woman walks into a violin store
Posted on March 20th, 2013
hate the violin store.
When Marcel began playing the bass last summer, The Three and I took field trip to the city’s renowned store for all things strings. I was so pathetically excited. We were going to look at the double basses and to ask about rentals! It was going to be fun and informative and maybe, just maybe, we would be involved in a transaction that would involve the exchange of cash for an instrument on which he could practice.
‘Ooooh,’ one mother said to me beforehand, ‘just wait ‘til you go to the violin store (only she identified it by name)! It’s so beautiful and wonderful and lovely and they have the most amazing things and you are going to lovedy, love, love it!’
Or something like that anyway, but that mother was wrong. From our very first trip, I have not loved the violin store.
“We don’t rent basses,” the woman, too young to be so sour, informed me on that first visit. “Too many were being…damaged,” she finished, looking at my 11-year-old as if he might have been behind it.
Basses are sold for about $1,500 she grudgingly explained. Once your child outgrows the one you bought, the store will swap it out for a larger size. Her attitude was weary, one of someone who’d detailed the expense and intricacies of this arrangement tomany a house frau before me only to have them turn on their heel and hurry away, confused and/or impoverished.
“Uh, okay,” I stammered. “Could my son at least look at some of them?”
To be fair, that initial sense of embarrassment and disappointment has colored all of my subsequent visits to the violin store. At the same time, those violin store people aren’t really giving me a lot to work with.
Take my most recent trip, for example. I skulked in to buy new sheet music for Marcel. The store was entirely devoid of paying customers, so three employees greeted me immediately. Upon a brief explanation of what I was looking for, my information admittedly somewhat incomplete, I was essentially shown the door. These people weren’t even interested in faking it. Not one among the three of them could be bothered to pretend to Google the fragment of the piece I had come to collect.
“You’re really going to have to just come back when you have the name of the composer,” one of them told me condescendingly.
Every time I go into that stupid store, I am Julia Roberts shopping Robertson Boulevard in her trademark whore-wear. She’s shopping, just like Richard Gere told her to! She has his money, too! But like that icy, unkind shop girl poor Julia encounters on her excursion, when these ladies in their flowered-y church frocks from the ‘80s size me up, they find me wanting. Somehow they feel that I am not ‘violin people.’ They are unpleasant and I suspect it’s because they think I don’t have any money.
Maybe it’s the jeans.
In any case, most days I watch Marcel play the instrument that we have paid the school district 20 bucks to rent for the year. Last fall, he carted that battered beauty onto a stage in that very store to play among smoothly gorgeous instruments that had been purchased there. And you know what? They all sounded the same to me—which is probably a tell-tale sign that I’m not a violin person.
And I’m alright with that, really. I just don’t want those violin store ladies to know.∗