Beethoven, a man, and a rose

or What my wife told me in the stairs

There’s nothing about listening to Beethoven that’s usual for Sherry. It’s not that she doesn’t enjoy it; she does, but the old deaf white guy doesn’t get much play in our house. He’s currently drowned out by Death Cab for Cutie, the Grease soundtrack, and olde tyme strains from The Guy’s All Star Shoe Band – eclectic pop/Americana that will change by next week. The symphony in general is something that doesn’t rise to the top of our priority lists in the din of trying to raise three teenage daughters and stay sane in 21st Century middle America.

However, Beethoven recently provided a rare moment for Sherry and me in the middle of our basement stairway as she told me, fresh from an encounter with wonder, about the man and the rose.

When Sherry’s friend Peg called and asked her to see the local symphony’s current concert, ending with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, she accepted because it was a chance for Moms’ Night Out, which she sorely needed. It had been another week of getting elder daughter through job issues, a research paper, a major college decision, and off to D.C. for five days; of laying down the law with middle daughter about homework and responsibility; of driving younger daughter to music lessons and youth group meetings; and of keeping her chin up in spite of her husband’s unhelpful irony.

Moms are also distracted by things like a looming kitchen apocalypse. This night, it was the culinary explosion that occurred when middle daughter and her two friends decided to make fettuccine alfredo and cheesy bread for supper in our kitchen. Half way through the actual meal (which was surprisingly good) she suddenly gasped, “Argh! I was supposed to pick up Peg for the symphony ten minutes ago!”

A quick change and hair check (no pasta – all clear), and she was out the door, picking up Peg, and skating into the concert hall with a few moments to spare.

Locating their seats, they found the end seat occupied by a well dressed, older gentleman. In the empty seat next to him lay a single rose.

They minced delicately past him.

“Excuse me,” said Peg.

“No problem,” said the man.

“Excuse me,” said Sherry.

“No problem at all.”

All the while, the presence of that rose loomed, mysterious and poignant. In the chatter before the conductor took the stage, they speculated.

“Blind date?” said Sherry.

“Internet date,” Peg finally announced.

Sherry agreed, and as the concert began, she stole glances at the man, hoping for his sake that his date would soon arrive. He sat quietly, but didn’t appear to be anxious. He wasn’t looking over his shoulder, anyway. Still, Sherry was feeling his pain. Her hope waned through a violin and viola concerto, and by intermission, the man was clearly stood up.

“What a bummer for him,” said Peg.

“I wonder if he’ll leave now,” Sherry whispered as they stood, stretching their legs and backs in preparation for the Beethoven.

He didn’t leave. When they returned from their intermission duties, they repeated the elegant “excuse me” dance. Then, through the opening strains of Symphony No. 7, he began to perk up. And by the second movement, he was openly enjoying himself.

When the last strains of the timpani disappeared and the applause settled, Sherry and Peg stood to put on their coats and began to edge their way to the aisle. The man, standing facing them, was holding the rose to his chest.

“She loved Beethoven,” he said to no one in particular, smiled to himself, and walked up the aisle.

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4 Responses to Beethoven, a man, and a rose

  1. David says:


    I hope that he loved Beethoven too, by the way…

  2. Sarah says:

    OOPS… that was Sarah using David’s login that wrote these comments.

    He loves email comments.

  3. David says:

    I would’ve said the same thing. It’s a great story–chicken skin kine.

  4. Jocelyn says:

    I thought the story was heading that direction, but it still got me.

    SOOOOOOOO, is UMD the final decision for Eldest Daughter, then?

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