I’ve had this song on my mind all morning because I’m getting my piano tuned today.


It’s a new guy tuning the piano. I had a piano tuner I’d been using for about…I dunno. Several years, let’s say. He was a good piano tuner–good work, affordable rates, nice guy–but he wasn’t very professional. Like, he wouldn’t always return phone calls. He didn’t always remember you had an appointment. He was always late, usually by at least an hour. I’ve been threatening to replace him for a long time. Not to his face or anything because I’m too passive-aggressive for that. But behind his back I’ve been threatening to replace him, because seriously, is it too much to ask that you come on time? Or that you come? Anyway. The reason I’ve never replaced him is that replacing him would mean finding a new piano tuner, and you know how I am about change. I mean, if you didn’t before, you certainly do now, don’t you?

The piano was due for a re-tuning in July. The old piano tuner was very good about sending reminder post cards about when the piano needed to be tuned. He was not good about returning my phone call so I could make an appointment, and I guess this time that was the last straw. Yeah, I was so morally affronted that I spent the next three months thinking, “Dude, I really need to find another piano tuner.” Finally, my husband brought home an ad on a little yellow piece of paper that said “PIANO TUNING & REPAIR” and a phone number, and well, it was only another two weeks after that that I actually called the number and set up the appointment. And here he is now. Not on this blog, but in my living room tuning my piano, even as I type. The appointment was 9:00, and guess when he showed up? Nine o’clock. Needless to say, I love him already.

I do feel a little guilty, though. Like I’m betraying my old piano tuner. I know! What’s the matter with me? I don’t know. I’ve just had this anxious feeling the whole time the new guy’s been here, like the old piano tuner is going to drive by my house (because he just happens to be in the neighborhood), look into my living room and see that I’m having someone else tune my piano. And he’s going to think, “Gosh, if responsiveness and promptness were so important to her, why didn’t she just tell me I should return her phone calls and get there on time? I’m not an unreasonable guy! Is it my fault she’s a lousy communicator? Am I supposed to read her mind?” Stuff like that. Intellectually, I think I’m totally justified in my behavior, from a capitalist point of view. Emotionally, I feel unreasonably responsible for the man’s livelihood. (He has six kids!)

On the other hand, I don’t know how many kids this new guy has. He hasn’t spoken much since he got here. He’s been too busy tuning my piano.

Tangentially-related and somewhat-creepy aside: Does anyone else think “tuning my piano” sounds like a euphemism? It’s not. He’s literally tuning my piano. My literal piano. Nothing weird.

Back to the subject at hand, though. Well, I suppose there’s nothing else to say. I’m just waiting for the piano to be tuned and for him to tell me what the damage is. My piano is super-old. It was my grandmother’s, and it was old when she got it, back in the 1940s, or whenever. I think it’s probably almost a hundred years old. It’s an enormous upright grand. Extremely heavy. It’s been through a lot of abuse. For one thing, it’s the piano I learned to play on, and I broke a lot of its hammers during my temperamental-artist phase. Also, about 35 years ago it fell off the back of a truck and bounced down a hill before splattering all over the street. My father had to piece it back together. I’ve told this story before, I’m sure. He pieced it back together, and it was still in tune. It was a miracle! You see why I have to hold on to it even though it’s in terrible shape. It’s like my lucky piano. I can’t connect it with any particular good luck that I’ve personally experienced, but you don’t take a piano that’s miraculously survived a bouncing-and-splattering accident and just…get rid of it. It would be like taking an old person who’d survived six wars and three kinds of cancer and smothering their face with a pillow at night just because they were getting cranky. It’s just wrong.

I do wish I’d taken better care of it over the years. Just like I wish I hadn’t broken my grandmother’s arms during my temperamental-artist phase. (I’m totally kidding. I never broke my grandmother’s arms! Or anyone’s arms. Honest.)

The new piano tuner is discovering the hopelessness of the upper register. This part is never pretty.

DRAMATIC UPDATE: The new piano tuner has finished tuning the piano, and he charged me $15 less than the old piano tuner. AND he said it shouldn’t need to be tuned again for another nine months, and he will call me then so I “don’t have to worry about remembering.” Did I mention I love this guy?

I’m feeling a little less guilty about loving him, anyway.