Today is April 24, the day after Shakespeare’s birth and death day. I’m still catching up – so close – with Discover Prompts. For day 21, the word is Instrument.
In the previous post, you learned that I play the piano and that it’s one of the great joys of my life. I’m not very good, but I can read and I can practice until I can make a passable show at it, for my ears. I still play with far too many errors to really play for anyone, even people I’m very close to They’ll be polite, but I really don’t play well. But once I had another instrument in my house – a saxophone.
I’ve been married twice before. Wife #2 thrived on music. She loved Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street band, especially Clarence Clemons and his saxophone. After we bought a money-pit house in Kansas, we were quite poor. Springsteen was making his way through the U.S. on The Rising tour and stopping in Kansas City, so I scrapped together enough to get tickets and just enough more to buy souvenirs at the show. We barely had anything for the toll roads to get there.
Our seats were alllll the way in the back of the stadium against the wall, the furthest possible from the stage that you could get. And no one was sitting around us The arena was only 3/4 full at most. While I was off buying surprise souvenirs, I came back to find some strange men talking to my wife. They said they were with the band and wished to move us closer to the stage. It sounded……hokey, unreal. But we moved and got good seats about 10 rows from the stage on the left. People down front were smoking pot. My wife had developed one of her famous stress headaches, but the pot smell wafting in the air cured it.
It was a magical concert, not quite the 4-hour legendary concerts of his youth, but it was longer than most concerts I had ever been to.
Inspired by the events, I decided to rent a saxophone for my wife for Christmas and pay for lessons. We were really struggling financially, but I made some changes to the budget to accommodate the rental and the lessons. We already had an electric piano, and there was no reason she couldn’t learn to play an instrument if she wanted.
I was so excited. I told my family about it, and they were thrilled with the idea as well. Music was a part of our lives. Christmas came and my wife was overjoyed to the point of tears. She didn’t really know what to make of it. I had arranged for some starting lessons, and the guy was an old jazz musician who went over the basic with her.
My wife told her dad about the saxophone. She had recently borrowed money from him because of our financial straits, and I didn’t know about that. He scolded her. “How do you have money for saxophone lessons but can’t pay your bills?” She was devastated, but he held great sway over her and often interfered with her pursuits of happiness.
I tried to help her learn, since I could read music, but she got frustrated at my help. So I back off and let her deal with it on her own. Within a month, with tears in her eyes, she took the saxophone back. It was one of the saddest pre-divorce days in my life.
She had always dreamed of playing the saxophone. And she gave up on this dream for good.