14 February 2013

Jean-Pierre's Night

In the candlelight's glow, the 200-year-old parquet wood floor creaked appropriately as the two musicians swayed with their violin and viola.

It could have been a 19th-Century salon except there was no absinthe.

The occasion was Jean-Pierre's 86th birthday. J-P is my dear father-in-law. Interesting guy.

French, but a longtime Swiss resident. Retired veterinarian. Studies piano. Russian, too -- for fun. Also English, and understands it quite well, but refuses to speak it to me for my own good.

That was equally true two years ago when I was chauffeur on our excellent Expédition Beaujolais to buy wine. For hours in the car we'd talk only in French, hobbled by my poor ability and his poor hearing, hitting and missing like free electrons, growing closer all the while, growing more comfortable with pauses of silence.

His birthday party was a work of art created by my mother-in-law Zoé, Jean-Pierre's long-time partner (yes, they're living in sin). After scrumptious tapas and sparkling wine, we gathered in their salon to hear the string duo and then a marvelous storyteller.

I felt transported back in time. The musicians and storyteller were like Chopin and George Sand regaling us this night.

You know this civilization thing isn't nearly as bad as they say.

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