The first square grand piano I saw was in an antique shop outside of NYC. They wanted $8,000 for it.
This is a price I now know is ridiculous, but at the time seemed a reasonable cost to fill the newly-discovered, piano-sized void in my soul.
I crawled up on top so that I could hug it properly… Then I chained myself to it, in protest of Paul’s refusal to be sensible, buy it immediately, and rush home to turn it into our kitchen island.
I wailed and rent my clothes as Paul dragged me out by my heels.
In last week’s post, I went right to the good part: GETTING THE PIANO. But I’ve been on this quest for a while.
Looking. Driving. Giving up. Finding something else that was old and giant but never quite as fancy. Returning to this idea. Reconsidering. Waffling. Deciding the whole thing was a terrible idea. Moving on. Coming back.
And ultimately deciding that all other options were unacceptably lacking when compared to a piano of gloriousness and impracticality.
If you are wondering why I did not share this epic quest before now, it’s because I was not at all sure that I would find what I was looking for… Even though these pianos show up frequently, finding the RIGHT one is more difficult than just going to pick it up.
Plus, the LAST thing I would ever do is give myself competition in the giant fancy instrument department… Sorry about that!
You should also know that on a desert island, I would be the one to eat all of the rations in the middle of the night and then claim it must have been bears.
Now. I do not know how to do the mathematical equation where you figure out how many possible combinations there are, dependent on five different elements… But let’s say it is close to 11 billion.
Out of those 11 billion:
I contacted 23 craigslist postings,
in a three-hour travel radius,
actually looked at seven pianos,
missed out on two other free ones,
passed over a free one that worked,
waffled on one too long and lost it to someone else,
agreed to buy one, only to have the guy call me right before to cancel, after Paul had spent 24 hours building sleds and special dollies and rounding up a crew.
The reason I looked at so many pianos is because there are five factors, and I have an opinion about all of them:
1. Wood/stain color
2. Body style
3. Leg style
5. Whether the back is finished***
***Many of these have a flat back panel – intended to go up against a wall, unfinished and undecorated, and without rounded corners.
Then, you have to factor in:
*Meaning both the proximity to your house/travel time… AND how many stairs you have to navigate– I looked at one piano that was in the guy’s basement… You can imagine what THAT video would have been like!
Condition was a twofold concern: first, I did NOT want a working piano.
My last post got some questions/hopeful positing that perhaps we would restore the piano… I absolutely understand this concern, and I APPRECIATE your thoughts about it… I am not sure if I’ll need to write an entire post about our decision, (already titled: Y’all! I don’t hate music! Or alternately: Y’all! I have Google too!)
Condition part-two is the condition of the exterior: box and legs… Every single piano I looked at was missing at least two chunks: the flared bits on the end of the feet are the first to go.
Amazingly, the piano we ended up with is missing NOTHING and the veneer is in (mostly) excellent condition.
Trying to combine all possible factors into my one ideal piano was even more unlikely because budget was a factor… I wanted to spend about $500.
This was my wish list:
1. Finished exterior all the way around — since ours is going to be freestanding in the kitchen, I REALLY wanted four sides of fanciness.
2. Non operable.
3. Dark wood.
4. Simple body, flat bottom.
5. No dragon legs.
6. Largest size.
Liking the simpler version of these pianos has come as a surprise to me… More than just preferring the flat-bottom design, I actively do not like the scallop design.
I have no explanation for this, other than The Piano Troll finds them offensive. She cannot verbalize why. Also, she told me that this leg looks like a dragon… And once you see the dragon, ALL you see is dragon.
I got about half my wish list, but it was the important half… and the fact that the piano was FREE and in excellent exterior condition, AND has the rare-ish aspect of being finished on all sides, makes the half I didn’t get sort of tolerable.
The factor I was/am most uncertain about is the size. This is the smaller end of a spectrum that runs about 7’ long, by 4’ wide, depending on the manufacturer.
It goes against all of my personality to choose the smaller version of any giant fancy thing… even if we are only talking about mere inches that no one else will notice or know about… It’s just who I am: someone who wants the giantest of all the giant fancy things.
It maddens me, that I have somehow, involuntarily, accidentally, not gotten the giantest available giant fancy thing.
Although. It turns out that this one is plenty big enough.
LOOK AT ME!!
I AM A PIANO IN THE KITCHEN!!
Personally, I like that sort of in-your-face greeting… But I also like a space to feel OPEN… so maybe less a few inches is fine for the room, if not for my mental health.
Plus we have been moving the piano a few inches this way and that way, and also moving some mock-cabinets, and it’s surprising just how much difference a few inches make— placing it right or left 6 inches does really change the feel of the aisle/space.
Why is this post so long? Why am I still writing? Why must I have SO MUCH TO SAY?
Anyway, between the scallops and the missing inches, I had a lot of anxiety that I was going to be disappointed… I actually wasn’t sure this was OUR piano: I’ve only looked at 23 pianos! MAYBE I SHOULD LOOK AT ANOTHER 23! Maybe I should widen my search radius to four hours. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Once I start into the indecision forest, I can rarely find my way out and I will overthink myself into a decision-coma… a catatonic state of rigid adherence to the belief that a few inches are PARAMOUNT TO MY VERY EXISTENCE.
Reason and compromise mean nothing to me in the face of minute detail.
Paul was the one who made this specific piano happen… He said – look, let’s go and get it. It’s free. We will set it up and get a feel for the size and the space. If you’re not happy? We will get another piano… and we will not STOP getting pianos until you say so… I will keep all of the skids and the dollies and the blankets and everything else in the van at all times so that as soon as you find another piano, I will run right out and start up the car.
This sounded reasonable to me, so I was able to proceed.
If any of you think for one second that there is a remote possibility that I will NOT find another piano, I think you have not been paying attention.
Let’s hope for Paul’s sake, he is not one of those people.