I played the oboe in middle school. I wasn't particularly good at it. Maybe I didn't do much worse than most kids learning to play an instrument in band, but that's not saying much.
Nevertheless, driving me home after one of our school concerts, my mother showered me with effusive praise about how well I'd done.
"Are you sure you could hear me playing?" I asked.
Oh yes, she said. She could definitely hear me above all those other instruments. She felt very confident about it.
That's when I told her I hadn't played at all. A friend had accidentally wrecked my reed while we were waiting to go on. More accurately, I had been holding my oboe in such a way that anyone brushing past my seat would destroy said reed. Oops. Annoying, but not a major tragedy. I didn't have any solos. I could easily fake my way through the concert. No one would notice.
And no one did. I hadn't counted on fooling my mom quite so thoroughly, though.
She was horribly embarrassed when she learned the truth. I thought it was kind of amusing. And of course, I never let her live it down.
The funny thing is, she wasn't lying. With every fiber of her being, she believed she could pick my notes out of the crowd. And they sounded beautiful. Beautiful, dammit!
Fast forward almost three decades later. My parents are flying into town tonight and staying for a week, which means they'll catch one of our gigs. We're playing a Humane Society benefit at Casas Adobes Plaza on Saturday, March 6, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
I hope to treat my parents to a better performance than the one from seventh or eighth grade. Luckily, both my voice and keyboard have been working just fine. With just Ron the Drummer and me playing, sitting out the set would be a lot more conspicuous.