I’m learning that being musically inclined is often a matter of opinion.
“Honey,” I said to my wife, “where is my trumpet?”
“Hmm,” she said. “That’s odd. It must be around here somewhere.”
This example isn’t the first time my trumpet found itself missing in action.
With the agility of a practiced magician, she shifts gears, her words leading me down a different rabbit hole.
“By the way, what would you like for dinner?”
I conclude my missing-in-action trumpet is now no accident but rather a covert trumpet-napping. I expect to find a ransom note, complete with individual letters clipped from the newspaper, demanding I cease any further crimes against humanity’s ears.
After searching a handful of previous hiding places, I realize this time she was determined to succeed. I crawl under beds, explore behind the framed art hidden in the attic and thumb through the closets without success. My mood turns as blue as Miles Davis slowly walking through his take on “My Funny Valentine.”
This time she’s serious.
The first hint of my particular talent came when the children requested I not sing them to sleep, apparently their keen sense of musical taste awakened early on. Or when my wife and I were dating, she would continuously turn up the dashboard volume as “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” rang out. In retrospect, Steely Dan may never have sounded so bad as when I sat in with the band.
I found myself a talentless musician adrift in a sea of desire — and one without an instrument. But my luck changed. One day a neighbor called to see if we would like to buy her old piano. She was upgrading and thought maybe our children would like to learn or take lessons.
This child, the one with the driver’s license, jumped all over the opportunity. At last, an instrument in the house my wife couldn’t hide beneath the bed. And better yet, one I could promote the altruistic goals of the children learning to play.
The second one never happened; neither of our children showed interest beyond a casual curiosity.
For me, however, the piano became my next opportunity. I purchased and read books. I watched videos and took off-site lessons. The piano would be the stage where I would melt my family’s hearts with everything from Christmas songs to American blues.
I promised myself to graciously accept apologies from family members for questioning my desire to express myself through musical sounds.
But that didn’t last. My family quickly tired of the unskilled pecking at keys at all hours of the day and night.
A family meeting occurred. A curfew resulted, followed by further restrictions on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Today, my dreams of musical greatness remain unrealized. Even living the empty- nester lifestyle, I’m tethered to being considerate of the timing of my expressions. My playing may continue to bring more pain than joy into the world around my loved ones and me.
If only I had a trumpet.