The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.


Prague, travel

At the symphony, the tall woman loses focus during Strauss. When she returns from intermission, she seems determined to try again. A row of men who resemble retired diplomats watch her leave for the break, remaining in their seats to admiringly observe her return.

She comes back before the lights dim. A soloist brings sheet music onstage with him, apparently a nearly unheard of act of amateurism. She watches his hands as he prepares to play. People around the woman click and tsk quietly toward their neighbor, and listen for the soloist’s frequent errors with traded glances and patience.

Her companions try to get the distracted woman’s attention, set her straight, point out that there is no reason to gaze around so wistfully. Her first trip to the symphony and what a disaster. Yet, she doesn’t hear the mistakes. She’s lost in studying the curtains, the soloist’s shoes, the way the people in the crowd lean in or away from each other. She fails to notice the former diplomats still tracking the rise and fall of her shoulders.

Despite the pain of the performances, the crowd remains kind. Ovations and endless applause conclude the evening. Each audience member seems to take a cue from another, listening to the enthusiasm, trying to conquer it, clapping with growing levels of tempo and volume. They cheer on and on like people who had nowhere else to go. So there are three bows and three curtain calls, per composer, per director, per very surprised and very humbled soloist.

–Prague, Czech Republic.

Castle view Charles

13 comments on “Breathtaking

  1. Carl D'Agostino
    December 10, 2012

    I used to frequent the Czech Club here in North Miami. Ah, the struedal !

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      December 10, 2012

      Mmm, excellent! Perhaps the crowd at this symphony would feel that’s worth a standing ovation too. 🙂

  2. ApplePieAndNapalm
    December 10, 2012

    Lovely story and photos!

  3. journeyman1977
    December 10, 2012

    Paige, this one was a gem!!! an absolute gem!

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      December 10, 2012

      You’re making me blush, Journeyman! 🙂

      • journeyman1977
        December 10, 2012

        well it’s the truth!!! 🙂 huge hug

  4. ramblingsfromamum
    December 11, 2012

    No doubt a very relieved soloist! Nice post Paige and the photo of Prague 🙂

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      December 11, 2012

      Thanks so much! It’s been fun to re-trace my steps and to write about all the people I’ve watched along the way. 🙂

  5. Enchanted Seashells
    December 11, 2012

    beautiful story and pictures. with a cup of tea, reading it was very relaxing and peaceful.

  6. Marylin Warner
    December 11, 2012

    Wonderful photography, stunning details.

  7. Arindam
    December 12, 2012

    Great story with beautiful pictures.

  8. petit4chocolatier
    December 30, 2012

    Beautiful writing of the story and photos!!

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This entry was posted on December 10, 2012 by in Blogging, Europe, Happiness, Observed, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , .

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