(I will sooooo be dating myself in this post…)
I used to play with Dawn dolls when I was a little girl. These were dolls about half the size of Barbie dolls and just as glamorous. I had cases bulging full of these dolls along with all the clothes and accessories ever made to go with them.
My favorite scenarios to have my Dawn dolls in was to have them finding true love on “The Love Boat” (sigh…Dr. Bricker…) or discovering that unicorns are really real on “Fantasy Island”. The cabins on the ship and the bungalows on the island were always played in the “cubbies” under our Steinway and Sons baby grand piano. I would sit there for hours, all my doll stuff scattered under the piano in little piles.
Another one of my father’s many talents was playing that beautiful, shiny black instrument. His long, graceful fingers danced on the keys, putting together the notes with as much precision and love as Chopin and Mozart, Liszt and Beethoven and all the other Masters had probably shown. The passionate sounds of his music lulled me to sleep every night.
On the ledge above the keys, above the roll-down cover, are three sets of bite marks. Bite marks made by MY teeth.
Dad tried desperately to teach me how to play. He showed me the proper finger and wrists positions, tried to teach me about timing and how to read music. Those bite marks are proof of my utter frustration at my failure. The only piece of music I ever mastered was “The Windmills of Your Mind” from the movie “The Thomas Crown Affair”, (I have no idea where I even got the music for that – it certainly was NOT something my father would have played).
So, my father did the next best thing – he hired me a private piano teacher – Mr. F. Surely I would learn from him.
Mr. F was an elderly man in his mid-90’s. He would greet me warmly at the door to his brownstone – where my parents would drop me off every Tuesday at 6pm – dressed in his signature burgundy velvet smoking jacket.
Leading me to an enormous side room where his spectacular concert grand Steinway took center stage, he would settle his frail body into an over-stuffed, high-back chair while I nervously sat at the very edge of the hard wooden bench in front of the ivory keys. All the while, the lectures regarding hand positions chanted through my brain as the metronome clicked away to it’s measured beat – ticking away the minutes until I could go home and use our Steinway for what it was intended to really be – a cruise ship.
After going over my progress from the week before (generally none to minimal), Mr. F would show me something a bit more complicated, both of us knowing that the only reason I was there was because of my parents and no real progress would be occurring that evening or the upcoming week.
It was usually around this time that Mr. F’s housekeeper would gently knock on the door and bring in a silver tray with a cup of steaming tea and a shot of something amber colored. He would drink both and, like clockwork, fall asleep. Sometimes I would even stop playing and pull out a Judy Blume book from my bag to read instead.
Often times, so soundly did he sleep that he never even knew our lesson was over and I had left.
And so our Tuesday evening ritual continued, that is, until the class when he died on me. Just fell asleep after his tea and shot of whatever and never woke up. There I sat with a dead body, reading, “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret”.
The piano will stay at my Mom’s until we find our PERFECT house in Myrtle Beach, it’s too much of a pain to move it over and over. I don’t suspect it will be TOOOO long before we find that house, though. Randi and Mike’s date to the wine-tasting fund-raiser didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked. Apparently they are better off as business friends than romantic friends. At least this will give her more time to help me find a house.
Today I have been playing nurse to four out of my five daughters, and since we homeschool…there’s no such thing as a day off. Ever. And I LOVE it that way. Although I could deal with the girls being just a little less cranky…
So, while the girls are ALL sleeping soundly for the moment, I am going to take a sanity break with some zinfandel and maybe even treat myself to a hot bubble bath. And pretend I’m on the Love Boat…with Dr. Bricker….with “The Windmills of Your Mind” playing in my mind.