An ode to Mr. Lonely

A blonde, bushy ponytail pulls his mop straight, revealing a pale forehead – a billboard endorsement for white-bread. His round glasses belong on the nose of a pre-Confederation country doctor. His hillbilly sideburns do not.

His name is Mr. Lonely and he plays a tinny piano for northern Ontario's most accomplished glam rock-star – an organist in a canuck-cabaret.

When he plays, it is as two parts.

His head is all-stoic. Far from the bawdy majesty centre stage, it sways and nods softly, channelling the two-dimensional spirit of Schroeder. But his concentration is no cartoon; his eardrums, his eyes, his throat – all go together as though joined with copper.

That part of him is as spiritually solid as a maple; as a tree whose crooked twigs skip and quiver with every rising wind.

Ten crooked twigs: tapping and sliding, stabbing and soaring. Their little frenzy powers the outward spectacle.

And then, when the encores are over and the bathrooms get busy, Mr. Lonely is often found near the door, fingers, hands, head, hair – all hopelessly lost amongst the glittery groupies.

-- Mr. Lonely, aka, Todd Lumley, is a Canadian pianist best known for his work with Hawksley Workman. In December 2001, I passed him on a street in Paris, but did not introduce myself. I wrote this in 2006.