How to Shine
As soon as I woke, maybe three seconds before my mother burst in and announced that it was six PM, waking me from a three-hour plus nap, I heard a piano on TV... and as I stretched out of the bed, groggily wondering what significance 6 o'clock could possibly have, it turned into orchestra and back again. I had to wait a moment, not sure if I'd imagined that part, decided I didn't.
I thought, My parents must be watching PBS, where they run Cats or Riverdance and other classy things.
I used to play the piano, Suzuki Method. I wasn't as good as this guy on TV, whoever it was, and I thought, Maybe I'll go see who that is...what makes him so good.
There was a boy on TV...He must've been my age, about 20...pounding the keys, demanding their sound, pouring sweat and possibly crying. Not seeing me at all.
How'd he get so good? Dad asked.
He's a savant, I explained.
It didn't mean a lot to Dad, but at least he got quiet so I could listen again to this kid who was so much better than me without ever straining to memorize dots and flags on a page's worth of lines and clefs.
Though I could manage seven pages in two or three weeks time, I thought as I set the table, Even if I tried going back to playing, my fat fingers would refuse to ever let me be that good.
And as he fell into the wall, which looked a lot like the floor and maybe was, in a seizure induced by extreme exhaustion, or passion, I myself fell into jealousy.
Because even though my brain may be in perfect working order and my body in perfect health, (if a little thick around the midsection) no matter how long or how many years I put into reading and remembering those lines and dots and clefs and flags I will never have the ability to play like that boy; perfectly.
Crescendo, descrescendo, fermata, accente, trill, largo, allegro, quarter and eighth rests... they took me years to learn. Years. Twelve. My perfect pitch is nothing in comparison to playing entire 4-movement sonatas by just looking at the pages once.
Why wasn't I the savant? I thought.
You played that one didn't you? Mom asked.
I quietly said, No, went back to setting the table, listening to the TV with both wonder and hate for the kid who got to be special, reminding me that I was not.