Well I’ll be. There it is. I knew it didn’t get thrown out. My old harmonica. I haven’t seen this since when? Since we moved here I think. Ten years. Doesn’t seem possible.
I have never ever been able to play a musical instrument and always wanted to. Drums were the instrument of choice, but my career never got off the ground. I thought my parents were being pretty narrow minded when they refused to let me, or even help me, get a drum set. Something about not upsetting the landlord who lived just one wall away. I did manage to acquire a set of sticks and spent a lot of time tapping on whatever was handy.
They did buy me a little plastic four string ukelele once. May dad showed me how to tune it, but being left handed, we had to restring it so I could strum it with my other hand. For those of you old enough to remember Arthur Godfrey, you will also remember that he played the ukelele. At one time he had an advertisement for the “Arthur Godfrey Cord Finder”. A little plastic thing that strapped on the strut of the ukelele and allowed you to hit cords just by pressing buttons. But of course, they did not offer an “Arthur Godfrey Left Handed Cord Finder”, so I had to install it backward and exercise some very weird hand positions. I loved that ukelele. A lot more it seems then did my wife. One day a friend of hers came over to visit with her little boy and my wife gave him the ukelele to play with. Bad move. When I came home, it was in two pieces. So much for that.
I finally settled on the harmonica which seemed to be a logical progression from the Ocarina which had been lovingly tolerated by the entire family. It didn’t appear to be too hard to learn to blow a recognizable tune, with some liberal interpretation. Hey, jazz isn’t necessarily musically correct. Just sayin. I got my first one when I was about fourteen. I had a lot of fun with it, frequently playing requests like, ‘would you please play that outside?’ But I didn’t mind. The more people that heard it, the sooner I would be famous.
After I married, my company moved me around a lot. We went from Maine to Indianapolis to Baltimore to Houston to Dallas to Kansas City to Louisville and finally back to Maine. And as strange as it may seem, every time we would move, the harmonica would disappear, only to surface again after extended absences in rather odd places within the house. Normally places I did not frequent. Strange how that would happen, especially considering that only my wife and I lived there. But upon each discovery, half of us were glad to see it. My wife would roll her eyes and offer me encouragement such as “you’re not going to play that while I am trying to watch TV are you”. When I would say “But you’re not watching TV”, she would say “I can”. I asked why she didn’t like it and she said “because everything you play sounds like ‘The Flight of the Bumblebee’, but yours doesn’t have a GPS. I thought that a tad cold, don’t you?
Well anyway, I found it again today. Still in the well worn box it came in. Tucked away in an amoire in a spare bedroom under a bunch of linens. Funny, I don’t remember putting it there, but, if not me, who? I can hardly wait to see the expression on her face tonight when I walk into the living room playing Beethoven’s Fifth, or Brahms Lullaby, or Yankee Doodle, or, well, whatever it sounds like to her.