The Definition of Irony

Saturday marked my twelfth student recital, which means I've been teaching piano for six years.  Yikes!  It was also the first time all of the students in my studio (currently 15) were able to attend.  Everyone performed well, and I enjoyed listening to and cheering for them in addition to meeting the "other side" of the families -- the ones who don't come to lessons.  One boy brought, I believe, nine guests!

For this recital, I decided to move from a free venue to a non-free, but nicer, venue: a church with a huge, airy sanctuary and a well-tuned Baldwin grand.  The facility charge was one dollar per person, so I put out a basket and asked for donations, and everyone happily complied.  (It helped that I had two giant plates of Monster Cookies next to the donation basket.  Woo-hoo!  Monster Cookies!)

As I was helping my students get settled (I ask them to arrive early to "try out" the piano, which helps calm their nerves and ensures they will be on time -- a good policy to have) an older woman approached me, concerned.  "I understand you're using the room across the hall?"  Yes, I told her, we were just going to have cookies and punch there after the recital.  "Well, we're supposed to have that room at 2:00," she said.  "I guess no one told you."  No, no one had.  I assured her we would be out by 2:00, and told her if she needed to set anything up now, she was welcome to do so.

When I entered the room after the recital, I found myself regretting those words.  She had set up a large circle of chairs in the center of the room, so that no one could cross the room directly to access the food, and every available surface -- chairs, couches, tables -- was covered with stacks of handouts, pamphlets and brochures.

I deliberated for a moment before deciding that if I didn't move everything, my students and their families would, and they would not be as careful.  So I began piling up papers into a stack, trying to separate by color and size, and moving the chairs to more strategic locations at the perimeter of the room.  Trying not to be annoyed with the woman, I wondered who in the world would have a meeting that required this much paperwork at 2 PM on a Saturday?

I looked down at the brochure in my hand.  Oh.

Clutterers Anonymous.