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Monday, February 9, 2015

Tom Lehrer on BuzzFeed

I stumbled upon this BuzzFeed article about the great Tom Lehrer and thought I'd pass it along.

I worked for many years in the classical department of a CD store in Harvard Square where Lehrer was a semi-regular. He was most friendly with one employee, an older Harvard man himself, but was always genial and good for a laugh or two. Once, when buying an album of light opera and show-tunes by a famously inarticulate opera singer he remarked "Eight of these songs are in French, but one is in English. The party game is to guess which one."

We all knew who he was and knew he didn't like to be bothered about it, and I think he knew that and appreciated it. The store manager, however, when she found out he was a regular, let it be known she wanted to be introduced to him. I refused to go along with that, but one day another co-worker relented. We had a counter with two registers. I was at one, and the manager usurped my co-worker's place at the other. When Lehrer approached the counter, the manager started with fan-girl admiration "Hi, Mr. Lehrer. I'm the store manager, and just want to..." Lehrer said, "Oh I'm sorry," and turned and presented his items to me, instead. He wasn't rude, but clearly showed he had no interest in the star treatment.

My closest transgression (aside from this blogpost) came when we were having a campaign where there were some titles on sale at 2 for $25 and some at 3 for $25.1 These titles were identified with maddeningly similar stickers. Lehrer came up with one of each, and since there were two items I charged him $25, overcharging him by two or three dollars. When he pointed out my mistake I said, in mock frustration, "dammit, you math professors get me every time!" He paused for a moment before giving a chuckle.

And lastly, I don't want to brag, but about a year or so ago I found a copy of the 10" Songs of Tom Lehrer at Goodwill. I accept your envy.

1 One of these items was the DVD of Weird Al Yankovic's movie UHF.

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