Waltzing with Wagner and not Rudolf

By Carolyn Marsh | Oct 11, 2011
Photo by: Steve Paley

I have resolutely avoided reading the article in the New York Times about how people fall in love with their iPhones. All I need in my life is one more insentient being to which I am slavishly devoted with no fond returns, and if I sound bitter because my cars do not love me the way I love them, I am. Then there are the cats, though even they manage from time to time to communicate their feelings, which are mostly of self-satisfaction — I do not say gratitude because such a thing never occurs to a cat, as why should it? since we were evidently put here to serve them.

I would like to know what Tiny Trolls, however, creep into my bedroom at night while my iPhone and I are recharging and rearrange the myriad tones that the phone employs to let me know what task it is embarked on at any particular moment. Just when I had gotten accustomed to getting what I call a fanfare for a text message (perhaps someday I will discover what that clarion call, a string of notes rising feverishly in tone and volume, is really called, but sufficient unto the day etc. and fanfare it shall remain), I hear, as I open the door to the bathroom, the tinkle of breaking glass and am immediately on the alert to see what precious object the cats have broken now, only to find everything in one safe piece and to discover later, on the iPhone, a text message that has announced itself with a ring called, oddly enough, Glass. (I suppose I could have seen what fanfare is really called but frankly I wasn’t that interested at five in the morning.)

Then there is the barking dog, and since I have no recollection at all of ever programming a barking dog into my ring-tone rota — and I don’t even have to worry about having forgotten that I did, as I would have to have been dead for many years before I willingly introduced the sound of a barking dog into my life — I can only deduce that the Tiny Trolls have been at it again.

The xylophone (and why not zylophone, I wonder?) is oddly amusing and rather more popular than one would expect. There are, in fact, about 30 rings that come with the phone before you have ever started sending ring tones to it, and that is a thankless task, I can tell you, as no matter what ring tone you choose, whether it is the “Ride of the Valkyrie” or Madonna singing “Live To Tell,” when you actually get to the point of sending your choice along to your iPhone, a very annoying screen pop-up pops up and tells you that that particular bit of Wagneriana is not available for ringing iPhones but would you like something similar, such as a Schubert lieder, which if you know anything about music at all you know bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Valkyrie, to which I once danced with my friend Arthur in his apartment at Carnegie Hall, and there isn’t much Wagner that one can dance to, and especially not among the Nibelungenlied, though fortunately Arthur’s friend Rudolf (yes, that Rudolf), who was occasionally at Arthur’s place when I was, was not there that evening, as I can’t imagine anything more seriously shame-making and soul-destroying than dancing with Arthur, whose knees were never his strong point — or his footwork either, for that matter — to something by Wagner while Nureyev looked on, probably laughing himself sick in the huge armchair he usually inhabited while he was there because it made him look so tiny and mournful and harmless, which he was not at all, by the way.

And while I still entertain the notion of making “Live To Tell” my special ring, it is true that you can’t really tell what the music is until about three minutes into the piece, by which time whoever it is who is calling has damned you to the devil and hung up, too.

I can hardly believe I have lived long enough to see fire hydrants (I myself call them plugs) painted red again, but there you are, and there they are. I don’t remember the exact sequences of colors but prominent among them was International Orange, which I fancied because it sounded so grand but was really just plain old orange with zest—and this from someone who insisted for years that her favorite color was brown—and there may have been a yellow shade in there, but now they seem to be red again, or many of them, though I caught a glimpse of a silver one the other day, which is rather hard to see in bright sunlight, unless it was an objet d’art that someone had carelessly left lying around, of which I suspect there are many more than we are aware of, Horatio.



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