Monday Morning Mark • 86
I Need A Hobby • Laziness • Pierre Finds Fame
One Minute Wit
I Need A Hobby
I need a hobby.
Do you think zeppelins are hard to build?
Two Old Guys On A Park Bench
I am a card-carrying member.
Pierre Finds Fame
On the streets of Paris
It was summer in Paris. The city of light. A city that had become a breeding ground for both the arts and science. Great masters painted alongside inventors and scientists in the Lourve. Epic debates were held daily in cafés by great thinkers of the day.
Pierre was neither an artist nor a scientist, and certainly not a great thinker. He lived in the slums of Paris. During the day, Pierre hauled fish from the docks to several restaurants and cafés. In the evening, he would wash the stink of fish off in the Seine river and return to his shack to sleep. Pierre dreamed of living the life of an aristocrat. Like the ones who dined in the restaurants he brought fish to.
At the end of a particularly hard day, Pierre noticed a stack of music manuscript paper and a quill laying in the road. He looked around and then picked it up. Maybe I can sell these at a music store, he thought. Perhaps it will turn out to be a good day after all.
When Pierre got home, he sat at his battered table and started eating a crust of bread. He got a strange sensation he couldn’t understand. It was like he was being compelled to do something. He took the quill, inked it, and started writing notes on the paper. He had no idea what he was doing. Pierre had no musical training, but he felt like he was possessed by a great composer. He wrote feverishly, and by morning Pierre had written a sonata.
Then Pierre collapsed and fell asleep. He missed his morning deliveries and cursed the folly of the night before. Still, Pierre stuffed the pages into his jacket and went to work. As he passed a music shop, he stopped in and asked the store owner if he would look at his music.
The owner, Rueben Dupont, took a quick glance and said, “You don’t look like a composer.”
“I’m not. I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout music.”
“And you say you wrote this?”
“Don’t know. Is it any good?
The shop owner walked over to the wall and took down a violin. He played for a few moments and stopped. “I must show this to my friend, Ruben. He is a conductor. May I keep these for a couple of days?”
“Yes. I will stop back Thursday.”
Thursday came, and Pierre returned to the music shop. The shop owner and Ruben Legrand, the famous conductor, were waiting for him.
“What is your name, Sir?” Legrand asked Pierre.
“And you wrote this sonata?”
“I must have it. I will pay you 300 francs for it and debut it on the first of the month.”
Pierre almost fainted. That was more money than he would earn in a lifetime delivering fish.
“I accept,” Pierre replied.
“Excellent. You must attend the concert and be the guest of honor. Take this money and buy some proper clothes.”
Pierre took the money and smiled. “I will. Thank you, Monsieur Legrand.”
“It is nothing. Although I will expect you to write me another piece. Perhaps a symphony.”
“I would be happy to,” Pierre replied.
“Bien,” Legrand said with a smug smile.
“I will need some more manuscript paper,” Pierre said to the shop owner.
“Indeed, you will,” Dupont replied.
Pierre didn’t go back to work and didn’t go back to the slums. Instead, he rented an apartment in a posh section of town.
Pierre set the manuscript paper on the table, which had a beautiful view of the city. He stared at the paper. Tentatively, Pierre took the quill and tried to write some music. He couldn’t do it. He wrote some notes, but it wasn’t flowing like the last time. He decided he would try again tomorrow.
The next day came, and the next, and the next, and Pierre still couldn’t write music. He started to panic.
Finally, the first of the month came around. Pierre attended the concert and was introduced as the composer of the sonata. Which Legrand had taken the liberty of naming Paris Morning. At the conclusion of the performance, there was thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Pierre instantly became the toast of the town. He was famous. He spent the next week being entertained by several members of the aristocracy.
At the end of the week, Legrand pressed him for a progress report on his symphony. Pierre admitted that he could no longer write music.
“You cad! You charlatan! I have no other recourse but to believe you stole the sonata from another composer. Leave my house immediately!”
News traveled quickly, and Pierre became a villain. He was ridiculed in the streets. There was talk of arresting him for fraud and theft of the sonata. Pierre had no choice but to leave Paris. In fact, he had to leave France.
Fortunately, Pierre had enough money to sail to England, and settled in London. Once again, he took a job at the docks while he learned English and made a new home for himself. One hard day’s night, Pierre noticed a stack of blank paper and a quill laying in the middle of the road. He stopped and picked it up. He took the stack of paper home to his flat and set it on his table.
That evening, Pierre had a strange sensation. Very much like the one he had while writing his sonata. Only this time, he was compelled to write fiction. Although he had not learned to write English, his hand flew over the pages, filling them with a marvelous story. He couldn’t stop. By morning he had written a novel. Then he fell asleep.
The following day he took the papers to a bookstore and showed them to the shop owner, William Willingham.
“The owner read the first couple of pages and said, “You don’t look like a writer, your clothes are too new.”
“I am not. In fact, I can’t write English at all.”
“And yet, you want me to believe you wrote this novel.”
“It is the truth.”
“Well, I don’t believe you cannot write English, because this is the best story I have ever read, and I have only read two pages. I need to show it to my friend, Harold. He is a publisher. May I keep it for a few days?”
“Of course. I will return Friday.”
Maybe I can get lucky a second time, Pierre thought.
Friday came, and Pierre returned to the bookstore. Willingham and Harold Clifton, a successful publisher, were waiting for him.
“Mr. Dupuis. Your novel is exceptional. I would like to offer you a three-book deal, with an advance of 1000 pounds.”
“Deal!” Pierre said. Everyone shook hands, and Pierre took the check to the bank.
A month later, the book was released to great acclaim. The first printing sold out in days. Pierre became the talk of the town. He spent his evening being entertained by royalty and the wealthy of London.
Then a few weeks later, Mr. Clifton pressed Pierre for a sample of his work-in-progress. Pierre didn’t have one. After that magical night, he couldn’t write at all. Ironically, he saw the writing on the wall and knew it was time to leave London — on the sly.
Pierre headed to the Netherlands and settled in Amsterdam. He took work at the docks while he learned to speak Dutch.
One evening, Pierre was heading home when he saw a canvas and paint set laying in the middle of the road. He picked it up.
The next day, Pierre had an uncontrollable urge to paint. He went to the canal outside his room and started painting. He painted like a madman. Soon the painting was complete.
A woman walked by and noticed the painting.
“Your painting is breathtaking. You, Sir, are a great painter. I am the curator of the Amsterdam Museum of Art. Would you consider selling your painting?”
Pierre grabbed the painting, walked over to the bridge, and tossed the painting into the canal.
“Why did you do that?!” The woman asked incredulously.
“Being great is a curse,” Pierre replied and walked away.