Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Piano Lessons

Like a lot of kids from my generation, I took piano lessons while growing up. My mom was a big fan of Liberace, and since he was a popular pianist, she thought I would benefit from seeing his performance at the Warwick Musical Theatre, a theater in the round. We were in the balcony, but the stage revolved, and every one of Lee's outfits either sparkled, shined or lit up. My parents were lucky that I didn't turn gay due to my early exposure to Liberace, but -- as we all know -- being gay isn't a choice. Just like those who believe it is an option, have no choice but to believe the way the do.

As I have stated before, even though I grew up on a farm, I was not much of a farm boy. I didn't enjoy fishing or hunting. I preferred to fill sketchbooks and watch movies. I was inherently shy, and I didn't get my driver's license until I was twenty-one. That's four years as an airman in North Dakota without ever having to drive a maintenance truck in subzero weather. When I had first joined the air force, I had to be cleared for a top secret clearance. They really did send someone out to interview my neighbors and people that knew me. One of my dad's tenants told the investigator that she thought I was gay. I guess -- like Billy Bibbit -- I should have been out "bird-doggin' chicks and bangin' beaver!" Instead, I went steady with Rosie Palm and her five sisters until I was out of the service. 

I may not have been a farm boy, but I was and am a nature boy to my core. Most days growing up, I would spend at least two hours every day in the fields and woods behind our farm. I would enter the woods through the Great Cedar Swamp and purposely get lost, so I could have some adventure finding my way out again. Often times I was happy finding a stand of beech trees with their bark like young elephant skin, or a pine grove with it's cozy shaded interior. 

I was quiet, introspective and unable to find my way in this world more suited for the loud and the crass. I've always felt that there was less of that edgy atmosphere out here on the west coast, particularly up here in Cascadia. That laid-back outlook is changing here too. We're not immune to the increasing overall malaise and sense of aimlessness that is infecting the world at large. I feel for that young boy, wandering through the woods, trying to find some purpose to his existence. He's still trying to find purchase on these cliffs of insanity. 


Brad Dourif as Billy Bibbit and Liberace as himself

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