Don't worry, this post will not contain any pictures of Harvey Keitel's penis.
Several people have asked about the piano featured in this week's Owen Wednesday. And while I do intend to answer all the questions you posed here to help me out of this rut, most of them involve talking in some sort of theoretically meaningful way about myself, which I am not in the mood to do lately, which makes for lousy blogging, hence the rut, so instead I will tell you about my piano.
The piano was originally purchased by my maternal grandparents as a way to honor the time-honored tradition of inflicting pain and woe upon their two children via forcing them to participate in piano lessons. My mother retaliated by actually learning how to play the piano. When I was a kid, she would occasionally sit at the piano and play through whatever sheet music was at hand, sometimes classical but more often the popular pop music of the time. I always loved it when my mom played the piano. I have a very clear memory of running downstairs one day while she was playing and asking if she would play tomorrow. Mom got sort of annoyed at me, feeling I suppose that it was her house and she could play the piano whenever she damned well pleased. However, what I wanted was for her to play the song "Tomorrow" from Annie, which she did and peace was restored to the family. I'm trying to remember the last time I heard my mom play the piano, and I think it was when I was around ten or so, although I don't know why she stopped. (Hey Mom, why did you stop?)
Several years ago, my parents undertook a major renovation to their house (they still live in the house where I grew up). This renovation involved removing most of the walls on the main floor, leaving nowhere for the piano, and they began looking for a nice farm out in the country where it could spend its golden years. My brother was faster out of the gate in declining to take the piano, so it arrived at my house one day and was ensconced in the basement. (This was at our old house, which had a walk-out, and I could do an entire post about watching the piano delivery guys try to roll the thing down the incredibly steep mud pit that was our backyard without breaking it our themselves.)
I took piano lessons as a kid, first from an old guy who came to the house and had a rather frightening mustache and then from a woman who was married to a guy on the Washington Redskins. I never got very good at it, likely because I didn't like to practice. When I was younger I always had to practice for half an hour right after dinner and I had a kitchen timer on the piano to tell me when I was done. I would set it for 30 minutes, play a song, and then reset it to shave a minute or two off the time remaining. I think I got away with it at first, but then I got greedy and my parents began to remind me that they were in fact able to tell time and that unless there was a time warp between the kitchen and the living room seven minutes of playing did not equal half an hour of practice. When I was older, I would just say that I practiced after school before my mom got home, but I never did.
So while technically I can play the piano, in that I read music and know how the keyboard corresponds to notation, it is no real surprise that I can't play the piano. When we first got the piano I tried to teach myself again and went down dutifully after dinner every night to work my way through a lesson book, but it was cold in the basement and then Mia was born and so now I sometimes play the five or six songs I know by heart or play songs from one of Mia's children's songbooks, but I don't play the piano. Chris actually plays pretty well. He is one of those people who can just sit down and hit keys at random and it sounds good, while when I do that it sounds like cats are fighting on the keyboard. He also plays by ear, but since he doesn't read music he also doesn't play the piano. (How can someone who is so invested in music not read music? I don't understand it. I have offered to teach him many times over the past 16 years and he won't do it. This may be the single largest disagreement in our entire relationship - he thinks he doesn't need to know how, I think he does.)
The piano is a spinet. When we moved, I chose which movers to hire strictly on the basis of which estimator correctly identified it as a spinet rather than an upright. It must be approaching sixty years old. It is missing two of the knobs that open and close the cover and the stain at the feet is badly chipped. It holds its tune like you wouldn't believe. In fact, it hasn't been tuned since we moved and should by all rights be a discordant mess, but instead it sounds pretty good. The last time it was tuned, the piano tuner disconnected the internal humidifier, which made me sad. Watering the piano was one of my favorite chores as a child.
Both of my kids adore the piano. It has always been in Mia's playroom and she has spent many happy hours banging away on it, and Owen seems especially drawn to it (as he is to anything that makes noise). I like having a memento of my childhood and my mother's childhood ensconced in the playroom, and I am looking forward to forcing my children to learn to play it.
Now, tell me about your piano/cello/flute/trumpet/recorder/maracas.