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8 " Once she called to invite me to a concert of Liszt piano concertos. The soloist was a famous South American pianist. I cleared my schedule and went with her to the concert hall at Ueno Park. The performance was brilliant. The soloist's technique was outstanding, the music both delicate and deep, and the pianist's heated emotions were there for all to feel. Still, even with my eyes closed, the music didn't sweep me away. A thin curtain stood between myself and pianist, and no matter how much I might try, I couldn't get to the other side. When I told Shimamoto this after the concert, she agreed."But what was wrong with the performance?" she asked. "I thought it was wonderful.""Don't you remember?" I said. "The record we used to listen to, at the end of the second movement there was this tiny scratch you could hear. Putchi! Putchi! Somehow, without that scratch, I can't get into the music!"Shimamoto laughed. "I wouldn't exactly call that art appreciation.""This has nothing to do with art. Let a bald vulture eat that up, for all I care. I don't care what anybody says; I like that scratch!""Maybe you're right," she admitted. "But what's this about a bald vulture? Regular vultures I know about--they eat corpses. But bald vultures?"In the train on the way home, I explained the difference in great detail.The difference in where they are born, their call, their mating periods. "The bald vulture lives by devouring art. The regular vulture lives by devouring the corpses of unknown people. They're completely different.""You're a strange one!" She laughed. And there in the train seat, ever so slightly, she moved her shoulder to touch mine. The one and only time in the past two months our bodies touched. "

Haruki Murakami , South of the Border