Okay, when I was a kid in the fourth grade, I’m pretty sure it was the fourth grade. I was a reasonably good student. And when I was in the fourth grade, I always sat in the back of the class.
I was a smart kid, but I sat in the back row of the classroom because I didn’t want to bring any attention to myself. Bullies were beating down the smart kids. I just didn’t want to bring any unnecessary attention to the fact that I enjoyed learning!
Anyway, the teacher, whose name I have forgotten, asked me and maybe two other kids up to the front of the class, and I was startled thinking, “Jesus, I don’t remember doing anything unsavory.” And she asked us all up to the front of the class, and she said, “Hey, would you three like to play music?”, “Yes, I want to play music!” I belt out! And the other two said the same. So she said, “Okay, a gentleman is going to come up soon, and he’s going to walk you three down to the music room, to the band room.”
So this guy came up, and he walked us all down to the band room. And when we get there, he sat us down, all these instruments all around, and stuff. And he asked us one at a time, “What do you want to play? What do you want to play? What do you want to play?” And when he gets to me, I say, “I want to play the curvy one.”
Now they’re all curved, all of the wind instrument curves. What is the straightest musical instrument? The flute, I would say. And we’ll get to that. But I said, “the curvy one,” and the young woman who stood next to the gentleman says, “The saxophone.” I go, “Okay, whatever you call it.” And she says, “All right, good. You’re going to play the saxophone. Go home and tell your parents to get you a mouthpiece because we can’t give you the mouthpiece. We can get you the saxophone, but we can’t get you the mouthpiece, you got to get your mouthpiece yourself.” I was like, “Great.” I was psyched.
I go home. I tell my mom, “Mom, they picked me out of the class, me and two other kids, just us. And they asked us if we wanted to play music. I said, yeah, and I told them I wanted to play the saxophone, and they said okay. And then they said I need to get a mouthpiece because they can’t give me the mouthpiece, so they told me to come home, ask my parents for a mouthpiece.” So my mom says, “Ask your dad. He used to play the saxophone.”
I had no idea that he played any musical instrument. So I told the teacher, “I’ll get that mouthpiece.” And she said, “Cool, don’t worry. Soon as you get the mouthpiece, you can play the horn. We know these things take time. We need the mouthpiece, just let us know, and you’ll be playing the saxophone.”
So, I went to see my dad, and it was difficult trying to figure out how to get this out of him. My dad had his moments of when he was listening and when he wasn’t. And most of the time, he wasn’t listening to me. So I talked to my cousins about it, and they were like, “Try to get him when he’s just kind of distracted, like when he’s playing his card games. If you get him in a good mood, when he’s playing a card game, he might do it.” “Okay,” I said. That’s what my cousin Steve, my favorite cousin, at the time, told me to do.
So I see dad playing cards, “Okay, he’s playing cards at my cousin Steve’s house!” I say to myself, and I went up to him and said, “Dad, they in school, asked me if I wanted to play music, and I said yeah. And they said what? And I said the saxophone. And then they said you got to get your parents to buy you a mouthpiece. So Mom said, come to you because you can buy me a mouthpiece.” And dad said, he turned around, stopped looking at his cards, he looked down at me, and said, “I used to play the saxophone,” and then he kept playing the cards, kept playing the game, and he didn’t say anything else. And I said, “Well, Dad, I need a mouthpiece.” And he looked at me he turned his head quickly. I’ll never forget it. He turned his head quickly, and he gave me a look, which was I’m playing cards, son, and don’t bother me when I’m playing cards. And I knew right then I picked the wrong time.
And I couldn’t say another word to him, and I didn’t say another word to him. And then I waited until after the card game was over and we went home, and he had lost. And I knew that it was over, that I could not ask him because he lost, and he didn’t have the money, and he didn’t want to talk about it. He just didn’t even want to talk about it.
So I didn’t even ask him again because I knew that it wasn’t going to work. So I went back to school, and I told them that I couldn’t get the mouthpiece, and they said, “Well, you can’t play the saxophone because we can’t give you the mouthpiece. The mouthpiece is the special part of the instrument.” And I said, “Fine, okay.”
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