2017 05 10
I took piano lessons for a LONG time when I was a kid. “The best” teacher available. I went twice a week. Once a week I gave up my lunch period to walk a half mile each way for my abuselession. I would sit there and play my lesson songs while hizzhonor would eat his lunchbreakfast. The great man. Always scrambled eggs. Eating with his mouth open. Like a cement mixer with yellow concrete. Me fasting through the once weekly torture. To this day I can’t look at anyone eating with their mouth open. EEEEWWWWWW!!!! GROSS!
The other weekly groupabuse was with six other sods every Wednesday evening. Ever notice how short a week can be?
Especially Wednesday evening.
He sat at a spinet and we sat in an arc to either side and behind him. Each positioned so our hands were readily accessible at just an arm’s length plus the three feet of a yardstick from his honor. Playing little half keyboard kid sized uprights. Six of us. We were in an arc with each keyboard forming a spoke out from his position as the hub. Ostensibly so he could see our hands. Looked like a half daisy flower from above, where the angels of mercy hid their faces from us. The real reason for the positioning was more sinister.
We “played” finger exercises. Over. And. Over. And. Over. And Over. Faster. And. Faster. And. Faster. He would lead. We had to keep up. 1-3-2-4-3-5 5-3-4-2-3-1 and again 1-3-2-4-3-5 5-3-4-2-3-1 each time moving up the keyboard one key. Then when at the end, moving down one key. Faster. Faster. Until the first one missed a key. I remember looking on in relief when it was someone else. Looking in fear at his eminence when it was me.
WHACK! You missed a key, he hit your hands with a yard stick. He held it up in the air as we played. Ready. So there was NO time to pull our hands off the keyboard after the errant key. Occasionally he would whack by mistake. Maybe a twitch. Maybe we were having a tiny bit of fun, not allowed. Maybe a twitch of a smile in the corner of some poor sod’s lips. The first one to make a mistake, WHACK, then start all over again. Over and over and over. NO songs. Just finger exercises.
And then when I went home, my dad would make me sit and play, over and over, an old song I hated. I remember it still. A waltz. I HATED IT! The Black Danube Waltz. I wanted to play, by any means, some adaptation of current top 40 radio hits. The much feared Rock and Roll! Wooooohhhhoooooo!!!!! (Spooky music in the background).
I wanted to play for my own happiness. The adults in my life took that away from me and made me play in a way that they thought I should play. In those days a kid couldn’t play for fun and enjoyment. It HAD to be for a reason, THEIR reason. Not fun. For LEARNING.
I never wanted to play the piano. I wanted a guitar. But my dad said “Learn the XXXX first and if you do well with that then maybe.” I understand now. Rock and Roll was to be feared as a degenerate influence. The church was certainly against it. Like they are nowadays with the T in LGBTQ. Each time they lose a battle against common sense and decency they reposition. So I was wanting a guitar meanwhile having to go through violin, clarinet, piano, and Hawaiian Guitar (which is like playing a country “music” slide ass guitar. Might as well destroy my musical ambitions with that image. All of the instrument choices were determined by what we could get for free. I would have told my kid, you want a guitar? OK here’s how you can get one. Start saving your money. Mow lawns. Shovel snow. Help extra around the house, more than your regular chores. When you get to half of the guitar cost, we will chip in half. So it would have been a lesson in how to earn what we want, saving, and sticking with it. And when I would have gotten that guitar, I would have had some skin in the game so I wouldn’t have lost interest.
But NO. It had to be circuitous. And as a kid, I soon realized that the goal my superiors had was entirely different from my goal. I just wanted to play for fun. That was out of my reach.
Eventually my parents caught on that I was having some kind of issue going to that guys house. Or the price was too high for the results, even though he was “a concert pianist”. WOO HOO. A license to hurt boys? So they sent me to a different teacher, an old matronly grandmother type. “Float your corks” she would admonish in a Mrs Doubtfire voice. She wanted me to play with my fingers vertical from the tip to the first knuckle. And I would be tortured to play crap like Mary Had a Little (goddammed fukin) Lamb and other inane crap. I wanted to play ROCK AND ROLL!!!! And those finger exercises. Geezzzeee!!!! Would I never see the end of them. Now without a yard stick. But with Mrs Doubtfire gently coaching “This is up, this is down, this is up n’ down.” Then switching to a masculine Mrs Doubfire and saying in a deep voice ‘This is down, this is up, this is down n’ up.” Over and over.
Damaged for life.
Anyway I finally was paroled, at twelve, after serving six years due to lack of funds and dismal results.
Back when all books were treasure, tightly piled layers of paper between cardboard covers and protected by colorful paper “jackets”. Expensive or from the library, where all of my reads came from. And I read voraciously. There was a Dr Seuss book from back then, in the dark ages. “The 5000 Fingers of DR T”
About an evil man who destroyed all the musical instruments in the world save for his 5000 key piano. He lured poor unsuspecting boys in to his lair and forced them to play. While each victim was wearing a hat with a rubber hand sticking up. I saw this as a movie when I was a kid. It lives with me in my core. It was my LIFE! Teen drugs? Drinking? No way! I was fucked UP by a DR Seuss story! And a yardstick.
CAUTION! Video contains images of graphic child abuse. Be advised that viewing may cause extreme mental anguish, sleep disorders, and adverse reactions to classical music!
People speculate all the reasons why someone ends up all fucked up. Let me tell you, there are LOTS of opportunities to screw up a kid. And given the freedom, people seem to find ways to take advantage of these opportunities. Eventually you have a crossdresser running around going EEEEKKKKK! whenever she is brought near a keyboard or even worse, a beanie with a rubber hand attached to the top! So my excuse for CDing is all down to keyboards, yardsticks, and beanies with rubber hands.
Stuck in the “this is up, this is down”.
Escalators are up, down, upNdown to me. A link to my troubled past? I think I find some kind of release by riding escalators. Up, Down, Up Down. I can’t tell for sure. Probably because my hands hurt around them. It is sort of a relief/pain dichotomy. Up. Down. Up n’ down.
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