My Pianist

Late winter nights in Paris are cold. The tears running down my cheek made it even colder, with the wind blowing in my face as I was rushing down the street, hoping I’d still catch the last metro.

He was a successful jazz pianist. Jewish. One of the few who got my sense of humor and who knew modern classical music. To my delight, he also didn’t seem to care much about the fact that I was a model. (Others say things like: “So you’re anorexic, right?” “But you seem so smart!” or “Everybody knows models are drug addicts and sleep with photographers.”)

It was one of those moments in which every single second seems to last a painful eternity.

I loved the time we spent on spiritual and philosophical debates. We spoke of freedom and happiness for Mankind. There were so many things that matched my beliefs that I eventually blurted: “You sound like a Scientologist!

There was a silence.

“I’m a Scientologist. You sound like one!” I said.

It was one of those moments in which every single second seems to last a painful eternity. (In a movie, the images would have been shown in slow motion at this point, to the sound of the protagonist breathing in.)

My dear pianist looked at me in a way that was somewhat sad and angry at the same time. Then he did something I wish he hadn’t: he spoke.

His litany of sour insults ended with: “You know where the door is. Go.”

I stood there for a split second, paralyzed by disbelief. When I breathed out, the tears came. And I was in the cold street. Way past midnight. The metro and lipstick and all. Sobs echoing.

My pianist—I didn’t tell you, but he played with the greatest jazz musicians out there and had dinner with the royal leader of a country, and consorts with today’s finest intellectual circles. His very own people have been victims of decades-long religious discrimination and persecution.

Is history not teaching us anything?

What about open dialogue or, when all else fails, just human decency?

Even the city of lovers can be dangerous at night, but I returned safe and sound.

And the pianist? He wrote to me. Said he was worried he’d let an exceptional being go. Gave me the choice of him or my religion.

Gosh! I wish all choices in life were that simple!

Author

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