Friday, September 5, 2008

When life throws you zucchinis


Make ratatouille. Zukes, tomatoes, herbs, hot peppers from my north forty inches. Eggplant and sweet peppers from Dervaes.

But wait, I have something to whine about. I see a piano moving truck in front of my new neighbor's house and it brings back memories of my sad, sad, sad childhood. No, I wasn't beaten nor was I verbally abused. We weren't poor. There was no madness in the family, at least not at that time. But yes, we had no piano.

In a family of tin ears, I could carry a tune. I had a bit of a talent, I could play by ear. But there was no way these easy-listening-radio-station-never-bought-a-record parents of mine were going to invest hard-earned lucre on a musical instrument. Every one of my friends had pianos, half of them complained bitterly about lessons. All I had was a bad case of piano envy.

Fast forward a couple years. In the fourth grade, our school offered "band", I think it was called. We were sent home with permission slips, a check mark next to the instrument we wanted to play, along with instructions on how to buy or rent said instrument.

I wanted to play the violin! Well, guess how much that cost. Instead, my mother found a bargain through a friend of a friend on a clarinet. Allegedly a clarinet. It was not made of wood, oh no. This clarinet was made on some kind of steel or iron, actually looked like one of my corroded sewer pipes with a mouthpiece welded on top. To this day I've never seen another like it. I think she got it for $5 -- or maybe the people paid my mom to haul it away.

So I would spend the next two years, looking like those illustrations of the north wind, puffing out my cheeks and blowing for all I was worth to get a noise out of this devil's instrument. Ever hear a goose try to honk out the Blue Danube? Oh, friends pretended sympathy, but I knew they snickered. Them with the pianos, the violins, and the wood clarinets in velvet-lined cases. I was hoping to annoy my parents so much, they'd spring for the real thing. But who was I kidding -- they didn't care. They just cranked up the volume on the Mantovani. http://www.mantovani-orchestra.com/

10 comments:

  1. Visit Pasadena Adjacent, wordpress is being a pill today

    My father had a fondness for zither music. The piano lessons went to my sister. Her hands are half the size of mine. I wanted to study and she hated studying. After six years of lessons she could play one song. The parents traded the piano in for a player piano. This is when our family entered it's musical theater phase. My sister loves musical theater. I'd rather eat glass.

    Maybe you had an oboe.

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  2. Your vegetables are beautiful!

    I wanted to play the flute in band, but my parents told me that we couldn't afford one.

    I finally got to take piano lessons in college. I thrived until the second semester when we added the second hand. I'm not coordinated and couldn't get the hang of it. I ended up lying about how much I practiced. I'd pound the keys for ten hours a week and then apologetically tell my teacher that I only had time to practice for four (instead of the required five). I didn't want her to know how bad I was after all that practice.

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  3. PA, yes, we'll enjoy that meal of glass with -- catsup? When my parents reached their 60's, for some inexplicable reason, they started buying cassette tapes of musicals. I remember visiting when Evita was on an endless loop. And Susan -- I KNOW. A boyfriend finally bought me a piano for my 21st birthday. I tried, but it was too late.

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  4. Yes! We have no piana.
    We have no piana today!


    That's why I have an accordion.

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  5. Oh, natter, natter. I was given a black, plastic tonette in 5th grade, looked over my sister’s shoulder to learn the piano, played mellophone in the HS band. I did the PaPa to the Oomp, graduated from University with a degree in Music, and was always 2nd/3rd tier. But ah luv’d it! Git ovah it!

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  6. I had four years of piano. I then gave it up because I was taking junior high clarinet (I wanted to play jazz saxophone or classical bassoon, and was told to start on clarinet). Clarinet was a smelly, spitty, hard-to-play instrument, and I never did too well in band because first chair always went to Steffan, the private student of our band teacher, no matter how I outplayed him. So band politics ended my woodwind career at a young age.

    I returned to piano when I joined explorer scouts (jazz combo), but we could never find a piano that was in tune and we ended up at Taco Bell instead, listening to our teacher tell about drunken nights playing in his combo at various bars.

    Later, I did take folk guitar lessons, and as an adult I took classical guitar lessons for a couple of years, but that ended after we had children and I lost my job. I can accompany reasonable well on piano and guitar these days, and break out my recorder during Christmas.

    My wife brought the piano she never plays into our marriage, and I brought the guitar. The guitar is worth more than the piano. I don't know what this means.

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  7. I don't know Tim, I don't know. I suspect half of us need an attitude adjustment, and the other half need therapy. I am, however, most interested in hearing about your career opportunities in the Mexican food industry. My resume is ready.

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  8. We always had pianos. My siblings and I learned on an antique stand-up grand, and later we had an antique square grand, too. At one time we even had an organ, purchased from a church that wanted to dump it. The house was filled with music, like it or not.

    Four kids: two without talent or interest. One with a lot of talent and some interest. Me: not enough of either to stick with it. There was one piece, though, a difficult Mendelssohn work, that I learned in my tenth (and last) year of lessons. I'd pound it out with glee and fury. It was the only time I truly loved playing.

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  9. I'd say that your parents got off easy. A few squeaks from a clarinet is not so very awful. I was a drummer, and to this day my mother maintains that her diminished hearing is a result of my relentless practice.

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  10. All right! Elvis in the house. Albert sez hey.

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