Written by Lori Stefanac of Lola is 40
I’m sorry. He was taking KEYBOARD lessons.
You can’t mix those two things up…
because, as it turns out?
One is very very cool.
And the other is L-A-M-E!
His teacher was a nice, proper older woman in her early 60s.
Although NICE, she was also, in a word: dull.
Every week after his lessons I would ask my child if he was having fun.
Mostly because I knew that deep in my heart, if he were ME…
I would NOT be having fun with Mrs.Stickuptheass.
Every week he told me that that his lessons were “fine”.
“fine?” I’d repeat back. “Well, how do you feel about your teacher? Do you like her? Are you having FUN? This should be FUN!”
He would tell me that his teacher was “fine”.
Look, I’m not one of those moms who has my kids signed up for music lessons because it teaches them to work hard and exposes them to culture, blah, blah fucking blah.
I want my kid to ENJOY his classes.
This is a hobby.
I don’t expect him to be the next Chopin.
I don’t even expect him to be the next Alan Goldblatt.
You don’t know who that is?
Well, that’s kinda my point…
but he played a mean chopsticks at the last school recital.
Anyway, my goals are reasonable.
Eventually, I want my kids to be ROCK GODS so that they can support me and buy me fabulous shit.
And this isn’t going to happen if they aren’t enjoying their lessons.
So if his teacher isn’t making the class fun? Well then something’s got to give…
and that something is NOT me, giving HER even more of my money, if you know what I’m sayin’!
Anyway, seeing my kid’s lukewarm response to his lessons, I decide that perhaps I need to address his teacher’s choice of music.
I mean, personally if I had to listen to “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” more than once, much less practice it again and again, I might grab that teacher’s stupid metronome and gouge her eyes out with it.
But that’s just me.
That being said, I understand that learning piano,
I mean KEYBOARD,
requires one to learn specific skills in a certain order, and one can only play at a given level of difficulty until these skills are mastered.
It’s not like I expected my kid to sit at the keyboard and jam out “Bohemian Rhapsody” in one day.
It’s gotta take at least a week to learn that little ditty.
BUT there has to be a compromise, right?
So I set up a meeting with the piano teacher and ask if there’s a way to incorporate more “Rock” into the lesson.
She says she will try.
And she did.
She had my child playing “Rock Around the Clock” and “Blue Suede Shoes” and a few other simple songs that he could feel a little enthused about.
The problem was that she was still her.
After a few more lessons, my child decides that he doesn’t like his teacher after all.
He decides he wants a different teacher.
He wanted the young, cool, pierced and tattooed “rocker dude” of the music school to teach him.
Who doesn’t want a young, cool, rocker dude?
“He just seems more fun” my child tells me.
So I’m not simply dropping out of music.
I have to break up with his teacher and explain why we are switching to another teacher in the same music school.
Of course, my kid is right. This teacher DOES seem more fun. And a better fit.
But now I have to have a really awkward conversation.
And I hate awkward conversations.
After his music lesson I ask if the teacher can hang back to talk for a minute.
“sure” she says, “what’s up?”
I’m starting to sweat and shift my weight from foot to foot.
I’m finding it difficult to look her in the eye.
“I’m not sure how to tell you this…” I begin,
“I think we are going to see someone else.”
“Excuse me?” she asks.
Oh, don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about, Honey. It’s just going to make this thing all the more uncomfortable.
“Look I’ll just say it. We have to break up. It’s not YOU, it’s US. I just don’t think this is working out…”
Suddenly I feel very badly for every douchecanoe ex-boyfriend who ever dumped me.
Being a heartbreaking asshole isn’t as easy as it looks!
Well, I feel badly for all of them except the one from Chicago, who was going to call me back after he did his laundry.
He never called.
Which means that technically, we haven’t broken up.
20 years later, I wonder if perhaps there was really no laundry at all.
Either that, or he was doing laundry for all of Chicago…on a washboard…down by the Chicago River…in which case he may be almost finished.
He’d better call soon so I can free up my weekend.
She still looks puzzled.
“Look, you are a perfectly nice person. And I’m sure you are a perfect fit for…well for someone else. But I think we are just not on the same page. What we want and what you want…they seem to be very different things.”
Holy shit, Woman! Say you understand and let me off the hook all ready! But no. She is silent, allowing me to dig myself deeper and deeper.
“Um, what I mean is…Hey! You’re great! Really! You are. But…but…”
Still, blank stares.
“Ok. Now you are forcing me to say things I really didn’t want to get into…but the truth is, you are cramping our style. We’ve grown in different directions, plain and simple. We can’t breathe around you! You are STIFLING us!”
“Does this mean you need to change our time?” she asks.
“NO! It’s not about TIME! Wait. YES! It is about time. It’s about time-ING. BAD timing. We just have bad timing. Can you understand that?”
“So would Wednesdays be better?”
Her name is Gail.
“I see what you are trying to do. But let’s not make this more difficult than it has to be. You have to stop begging.”
“Um, so NOT Wednesday?”
“No. Not Wednesday. Not Thursday. How’s a week from never look to you. Sorry. That was sarcastic, and I can see that you are hurting. That was unfair.”
I bite the knuckles of my fist and turn away dramatically.
“I told myself I wouldn’t cry” I say as I gaze upward towards…well, nothing really. I was just trying to strike a remorseful pose.
Turns out, I don’t know how to do that.
“Uh, Lola? What are you looking at?” asks Gail.
Poor, pathetic Gail.
“Gail. Oh, Gail. We’ve had some good times, haven’t we?” I say as I graze her cheek gently with my finger.
“Sure. I guess…” she says as she backs away from my touch.
A touch that clearly electrifies her.
“Look” says Gail, “I have another student waiting in my office. Are we rescheduling or do you just want to let me know what works for you at another time?”
“That’s a grand idea, Gail” I say, feeling nostalgic for the good ole’ days.
“Let’s just say we’ll play it by ear. Perhaps another time. In another life. We’ll just say that. Okay?” my voice goes up a few octaves and cracks a little at the end.
It can’t be helped.
I’m emotional too.
“Yeah. Good. I gotta go” she says as she turns on her heels and heads back to her office.
I watch her go.
As I watch the sway of her hips I start to second guess my actions.
I’m about to scream out “GAIL WAIT!…
“Can I get some fries with that shake?”
but at the last moment I control myself.
For both of us.
And I learned a very important lesson during this very emotional “goodbye”.
The next time I have to break up with some instructor because one of my kids has decided that they are finished with a fleeting hobby?
I’m just going to drop a “Dear John text”.
SO much simpler:
BIN REAL. TTYN