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Tradeoffs

Walkin'

Before starting our bicycling trip alongthe Danube, we took a side trip from Vienna to Salzburg.
Tim, a classmate of Sabra’s from junior high school, settled there with his partner and husband, Heiner.
Tim is also semi-famous. At one time, he was the pianist for Florence Henderson, the self-titled celebrity of The Florence Henderson Show. Before hitting it big with Mrs. Brady, he played piano on cruise ships, where he met Heiner. Being from Salzburg, Heiner is friends with the Von Trapp family of Sound of Music fame. He worked in public relations and, at one time, was the head of the Salzburg Chamber of Commerce.
They met, fell in love at first sight and decided to move to Salzburg, mostly because it’s a beautiful world heritage city but also because it’s a cosmopolitan town, accepting of their lifestyle. They had the resources to buy a nice home but lived several years renting a modest apartment until they found something spectacular. It had to have a good view of the Alps and a place to feature Tim’s grand piano. A couple of years ago, they found their dream home and have since moved in and decorated it to the nines.
To be honest, I was leery of making the side trip.
“Who is this guy and how do you know him?” I remember asking Sabra.
But it all couldn’t have turned out better.
The train ride from Vienna was quick and scenic. We sat in the club car, drank beer and chatted up some college students from England on holiday. The topic turned to health care, and the youngsters questioned at great length how we managed without universal health care. They also expressed their bewilderment with our president’s move to take us out of the climate accord. Silly Europeans, believing scientists actually may know something.
Tim and Heiner proved to be excellent hosts, providing every comfort before we even asked. For entertainment, Tim invited a young American woman living in Salzburg and studying piano. She and her boyfriend couldn’t have been more pleasant and she played the piano like a virtuoso. We dined on a deck with a view of the mountains, then retired to the living room where Tim and the gal regaled us with classical pieces on the piano.
I know being “gay” or “transgender” is not the same but as we listened to a concerto by Mozart, I couldn’t help but think about President Trump’s recent announcement, via tweet, he would instruct our armed forces to kick trans soldiers out.
I could only think how rich and foolish our country is that we can afford to discriminate against people who could easily be our best and brightest.
And that ends my travelogue for our trip to Austria.
Another development in my life happened this summer, I finally resolved to get a hearing aid. I’ve been deaf in my right ear for at least a decade. It runs in the family. My mother is nearly deaf, as was my grandmother.
Sometimes, I considered my poor hearing as a handicap; other times, a super power: the ability to look someone square in the face and not hear a single word they are saying.
I made an appointment and was surprised to learn my condition could be repairable through an operation on my inner ear. So I had the procedure and voila, I can hear again. There are only two problems. One is my ability to taste food has drastically fallen off. The other is I don’t have an excuse for not paying attention to unpleasant conversations.
Not sure if I’m happy about the tradeoff.