“We’re going to be so late!” I cried to Andrea, after she had purposely tried to sleep through our appointment at the Bayernhof Music Museum last week. She was against this part of the Pittsburgh itinerary from the get-go, especially after I had Wendy call and make us a tour appointment when we were hanging out two days prior, since Wendy enjoys talking to people and I do not enjoy talking to people and Andrea just flat out wanted no part of it. Wendy got reamed out by the curator for having the audacity to try and schedule a same-day tour. That’s what we in the biz call a tourism foul.
“Of course he’s going to be a dick,” Andrea said when Wendy got off the phone. “He’s into music boxes. He’s a music box dick.”
But I had been trying to tour this place for years and years, ever since I saw a billboard for it. IT HAS SECRET PASSAGEWAYS. My friend Kara and I tried to go back in 2007 but didn’t realize we needed to call ahead, so we ended up going to look at glass shit at Phipps Conservatory instead. Now that Wendy had secured me an appointment for that Wednesday at 2:30, there was no way I was letting Andrea off the hook. I kept hoping she would choke so I could save her life and then she’d owe me. But since the words, “I don’t want to do that” never actually came out of her mouth, I considered her locked in without the aid of any of my usual manipulation tools other than puppy eyes and pouty lip. I’d say that’s an unfailing combination, but there’s still no ring on my finger. So…
After whining about how she tried to sabotage my music box dreams by sleeping in so late, I rushed her out of the hotel room. In my car, the roller skating mix CD had restarted from the beginning, so Andrea got to re-enjoy Billy Ocean, and by that I mean she texted all her friends about how Mean Erin in Pittsburgh had been aurally torturing her all week.
Halfway to Sharpsburg, I looked at the clock and said, “Oh my god, we’re going to be really early.”
“I tried to tell you!” Andrea yelled, sighing with frustration. And right as we reached our destination, one of many Jonny Craig joints came on the radio just as it began snowing. “Son of a bitch,” Andrea muttered, scowling out the window. And this is how I learned that the trifecta of Jonny Craig, snow-tinged frondescence, and music boxes is enough to morph the pupils of Andrea’s eyes into red undulating “FML”s. I took great joy in this and was nearly in tears from all the laughing. Torturing my friends is one of my greatest pleasures.
Since we were so early, we parked on a cul-de-sac across from the gated Bayernhof estate, like the most conspicuous burglers of all time. I was all but bouncing in my seat with excitement and anticipation while Andrea wondered what she had done wrong in her life to deserve this. I kept saying things like, “This is going to be fantastic” to which she would emphatically counter with things like, “No, this is totally going to suck and I hate it already. Fuck music boxes.”
But again, not once did she say, “I want to go home.” (Not that I would have obliged anyway.)
“I hope this tour is at least 2 hours,” I said all dreamily. I could not wait to get inside that house and surround myself with Germanic opulence.
“I hope it’s less than 5 minutes,” Andrea countered.
After a few minutes, another carful of early birds arrived, but they were braver than we and drove past the gates and onto the driveway. I followed their lead, throwing the car into drive and officially entering Babylon. Out of the car emerged a couple who appeared to be in their 50s and an even older lady who I assume was the mother to one of them. She walked all hunched over, slow, and with the aid of a cane.
“See? Old people. I knew it,” Andrea mumbled, after claiming the broad with the cane gave her an angry look.
The curator of the house came out and summoned us inside. I caught the eye of the old lady and she smiled at me. I took this as a small victory in my secret war against Andrea.
Inside the foyer, the curator introduced himself. At least, I imagine that’s what was going on when I completely LOST MY SHIT and began laughing so profusely that I had to turn and practically stuff my face into the corner so no one would notice. Because my shuddering body wasn’t a giveaway or anything. Little squeaks kept sneaking their way past my lips, my face had to have been beet red, and tears were starting to stream down my cheeks. I turned slightly and made eye contact with Andrea; she did not look amused.
It was totally like being a child again, being struck by a laughing fit in the middle of church.
The curator, I’ll just call him Dick because I’m sure that’s what Andrea was calling him in her head, came around and took all of our coats from us, so I had to collect myself quickly, which I did mostly by biting the inside of my cheeks and digging my fingernails into my palms.
Dick said he was expecting more people, and led us into a sitting room, where he left us alone with CNN while he went and made phone calls.
“I hate you,” Andrea said for the first of 100 times that afternoon. I continued to have giggle fits while sitting on a couch and tweeting furiously about how it felt like I had landed in Munich. German knick knacks and processions of beer steins all over the room, a large bar in one corner, and the signature stench of the 70’s circulating in nostalgic wafts to tickle our nostrils.
Andrea would have rather thrown herself off the balcony than be forced to hear the current affair opinions of the elders of our group. She texted me, “I’m praying to Saint Lucy to have my eyeballs poked out” and “Crying on the inside.” This just made me start laughing all again.
“But think of the secret passageways!” I whispered. She just scowled and went back to texting SOS’s to her friends, far far away in California.
Another “older couple + old mom” combo arrived and Dick decided he was going to just go ahead and start the tour, but not without first drilling some ground rules into us, such us:
- No talking to your “neighbors” during the tour, because it’s hard for him to talk over stage whispers (literally, he said stage whispers). I felt like I was in grade school again.
- ABSOLUTELY NO TOUCHING ANYTHING.
I broke both rules in the second room when I turned around to say something mocking to Andrea and my giant ass banged against a pedestal holding some stupid German figurine, which proceeded to teeter precariously.
I will get to the tour in the next post, so you better come back.