Wedding Pianist Tales

I've played the piano for many weddings.  I play for at least one wedding a year.  This year, I was scheduled to play for two weddings.

Last Sunday's wedding was the second wedding for the year.  I was flanked by two violinists, and we made fabulous wedding accompaniment for the now, husband and wife.

Weddings are never perfect, at rehearsals and at the actual event.  There are always glitches, or last minute changes.  There are always people who come late.  Sometimes something explodes and catches fire (seriously this happened once).

But I will not talk about non-music related incidents.  Since I think I'm a resident pianist, I will share interesting innuendos about wedding music.

#1 - It's always the pianist's fault
This happened at one of the weddings I played for in my earlier years in Thailand.  There was this lady, a fellow Sabahan, or Sabahanian, whatever you like to call us, who was assigned to sing a special number for the reception.  Now this lady has a tolerable choir voice, but nothing close to solo material.  It is quite unfortunate that she has so much misplaced confidence of how well she can sing.  This misplaced confidence extends to her song-writing skills, as well, as the song she was going to sing was written by none other than herself.  The accompanying music, on the other hand, was ripped-off from some cheesy Malaysian song.  We practice and practice.  At the reception, she soulfully renders her love message for the newlyweds.  She does a terrible job, no doubt.  It was so bad that even her misplaced confidence was insufficient to tell her otherwise.  At that reception itself, while we were mingling and mixing.  I got word that she has been relaying to every wedding guest she forcefully met, that the pianist sucks.  It was the pianist's fault that she had so many off keys.  That _________.

#2 - Every bride deserves her dream wedding
This bride her wedding to be as grand as Maria and Captain Von Trapp's in the Sound of Music.  She had a partial orchestra, a grand piano, a synthesizer, and an organ.  I was on the organ.  The whole concept of the wedding was lifted off from the movie.  At the rehearsal dinner, which started really early, she made everyone sit in front of a giant screen to watch the Sound of Music.  The Bride, of course, was crying by the end.  Now, one thing with wedding rehearsals and the actual ceremony, these two never match.  What you practice the night or day before will not be like what you will play on the actual wedding day.  If it turn out the same, then you are one lucky pianist.  On the actual day, the bride was really feeling the moment.  She waved and smiled as she walked down the aisle.  It was like she won Ms. Universe: Bride Edition, or something like that.  This was confusing, for all of us accompanist.  Halfway through the music, I got lost, so did the person at the synthesizer, as well as the pianist.  So there you go, the piano, synthesizer, and organ playing different parts of the same music.  Talk about having a fugue.

#3 - The bride is da boss
This happened at last week's wedding.  The bride's sister was the wedding coordinator, so I dealt with the sister to get the music sorted out.  I got it sorted out a week before the wedding, sent it off to the sister, and got no response.  That meant it was okay.

Come rehearsal, they asked if I could play a separate song for the groom.  Now, the groom was strategically placed in the middle of the male entourage.  If I were to play a song for him, I would have to let all those in front of him finish the march, then start a new song for the groom, then after the groom had marched all the way to the altar, start a new song for the remaining men.  This of course, would take ages.  Thankfully, the minister, who had done many weddings, was opposed to this suggestion.  Thank you minister!  The bride wasn't going to give up, no way.  She had to have the last word.  She said to me, "could you play the song (trumpet tune) a little differently when my man marches in?" I replied, "what do you mean differently?" she answered, "like maybe play louder."  That was my cue to leave.

Zipper Tales

I've had some pretty intense situations happen to be repeatedly, like 'falling' at different occasions.

Since those falls, I have been quite careful with how I walk, and, I am proud to say that to date, I haven't had any embarrassing falls.  Instead, I have been privileged with other types 'intense situations' - malfunctioning zippers.

Zipper Malfunction #1
I was returning to Thailand after visiting my brother in California back in 2010.  On the flight back to Bangkok, from Taipei, my zipper literally popped.  I was wearing short shorts, a grey shirt, a cardigan, and boat shoes.  I was going for the chillaxed, I-travel-a-lot kinda look.  The flight was uneventful, until I tugged on my zipper to check if my fly was secured.  You know how sometimes the tape (the two parts that become connected when the zipper is pulled up) remains connected, even after the zipper is pulled off (maybe because it broke or maybe because there are no top stops) - well this happened to me.  The zipper just came all the way off, leaving my pants 'zipperless'.  It had to happen right after I finished the meal and drank a whole glass of juice and water.  Sure enough, half an hour after this, I had to use the bathroom.  But using the bathroom would mean risking the tape getting disconnected, and this would mean that my fly would be wide open.  I went to the bathroom and tried to figure out if I could ride my pant high enough so I can pee without having to fiddle around with my zipper.  Nothing worked.  I returned to my seat. And waited.  Landed.  Waited.  Cleared Immigration.  Waited.  Waited for my luggage.  Got my luggage, ran to the nearest restroom, tore my pants open and sat on the toilet while listening to wonderful sounds of release similar to that of the Niagara falls.  Took a fresh pair of pants from my luggage and happily left the airport.
Zipper Malfunction #2   
This happened last week.  I was, again, wearing short shorts.  I was bringing a couple of friends visiting from Sabah to Asiatique.  We had taken the boat from Saphan Thaksin to get to Asiatique.  As we approached the pier at Asiatique, I tugged on my zipper to check if everything was in place.  The zipper head wasn't in place.  It had caught some fabric.  I couldn't pull it all the way up.  In situations like this you would pull it lower, and try to separate the fabric as you pulled the zipper down, hoping that the fabric would dislodge itself from the zipper.  I did this.  Fabric stayed.  I pulled the zipper all the way to the bottom and the fabric was still stuck.  We got to the pier, and I jumped off the boat, and ran to a dark corner of the pier.  My friends called out to me to check if I was okay.  I wasn't okay so I called one of them to come help me.  He held my pants down by pulling at the crotch area while I pulled the zipper back up.  While doing this, we both did little jumps.  What a sight it must have been.   

Bangkok T-Shirts

Here are some cool/stupid/funny t-shirts you can find in Bangkok.  These photos were taken at Terminal 21, Asoke.

Diplomatic Relations

Last Friday I paid a visit to the Malaysian and Australian Embassies in Bangkok.  Getting there from the Lumphini MRT was quite a walk, but thankfully both of them were right next to each other.

Australian Embassy
People were attended to in an orderly fashion: we had to get queue numbers.  Once at the counter, the officer was very accommodating, but curt.  They certified my Australian documentation in less than 10 minutes.  There is not much I can say about the embassy because the service was so efficient, and fast.

Malaysian Embassy
I got there quarter to two, and they were still having lunch.  Apparently lunch breaks at the Malaysian embassy in Bangkok are two hours long.  I met the liaison officer at one of the schools where I work part-time.  She has been waiting since noon.  When the doors finally opened, there were no security checks, everyone wandered in and formed a line, with the first person being separated by the rest by a red-line which obviously means "please stand behind this red line".  No queue numbers needed.  I felt bad? because I got there quite late and got served the third.  Officer behind the counter told me that they normally took two working days to certify a document, but she added that I could wait around and see what happens after the crowd leaves.  She told me the cost of the service, and I bent over and reached down to my bag (which was on the floor) to take my wallet.  As I did that, my butt pushed back into the person behind me.  "What is he doing so close?" I screamed in my head.  I turned back and glared at him, returned my gaze to the officer who was smiling timidly, paid my money, and went to look for a seat.  Soon after, that guy who invaded my personal space sat right next to me, and started fiddling around with his documents.  He then asked for a pen, then asked if he could share the power plug (that I was using to charge my phone) to charge his phone.  I lent him a pen, and I shared the power plug with him.  Soon, the officer called out my name, and I collected my passport.  I went back to my seat to retrieve my belongings, and my pen, and the guy whom I backed into asked if I knew place X.  I looked at the address, checked it on google maps, and told him, "Yes, I know where that is, and I'll walk you there."

Some other minor events over the weekend:
1.  Attended a participative play of the Wizard of Oz.  I was one of the many Tinmans.   It was at the British Club House.  Half the audience, and even the hosts were not British.

2.  First meal at Dean and Deluca.  They messed up my order.  Saw Gummy Bears and thought of buying it for a friend, but then checked the price: 150 Baht.  I might as well go to 7-Eleven and get a 10-Baht pack of gummy bears.  Otherwise, food was quite good.

3.  Chatuchak with Mom and her girlfriends, also met with friends visiting from Sabah.  As usual, it was hot, muggy, crowded, hot, did I say hot?

4.  For those who want to buy Guesstures in Bangkok, forget it.  Buy it online from somewhere.  They don't sell it.  I wandered around the malls in Siam and rang up Toys-R-Us.  Mai mee.

5.  MBK does not have the latest version of SPSS (currently only at version 21, with the latest version being 22).