My summers as a child were filled with so many happy memories. I played the piano and had to practice every day for ½ hour in front or the picture window that faced the park that taunted me from across the street. Not that I was put on display, but that was where the upright fit in our house.
The egg timer was set for the interminable 30 minutes and ticked off time as I watched everyone else compete in a game of pick and choose sand lot baseball. I could hear the crack of the ball against the bat and the “I got it, I got it,” that taunted me through the glass. Why had I decided I wanted to play the piano?
I had no real talent but I was better than good; so good in fact I placed second in the Assumption Catholic Grade School, school wide piano completion. The prize was for second place was to be chosen to wear a silken Tuxedo, climb off the carriage which carried the prince and princess and welcome a gym full of dotting parents to the recital…parents who were sure that their child was to be the next virtuoso on their way to Carnegie Hall and worldwide fame. So began my deep seeded fear of public speaking.
Except for tugging at the sides of my Tux pants-legs I pulled it off in nervous third grader style and did out shine my older brother in our duet of “The Banjo Picker.” I had the added flair of flipping the tails of the Tux when we sat down to play…but I was so lucky I wasn’t considered the best pianist at the school because I would have had to play the part of the prince and kiss a fifth grade girl who was so beautiful in my eyes as a third grader that I would undoubtedly have fainted at the mere nearness of our lips; and I would have been forever unable to stand in front of a number greater than myself in the mirror and give a speech.
But…getting back to baseball…it was destine to bring an end to my piano playing (and yes mom I do regret it) and spur forth the never realized, every boy’s, boyhood dream of striking out the last batter to win the Little League World Series…a feat I so often accomplished as I threw a tennis ball against the wall during the waning hours of a warm summer night.
I don’t regret having the dreams or realizing later that they were actually only dreams. I did go on to play baseball until I graduated from high school even continued to play where ever I was stationed in the Navy. I would still dream of making the winning play to secure the victory for my team, but was realistic enough to know that my playing days would end as my body wore down and that I would still be playing the piano to the sold out crowd at the Carnegie Hall of my mind if only my mother would have had the foresight to close the drapes on the window to the park.