The Name is "Maestro"

There comes a time in a man’s life when he needs to take on new challenges, to stretch himself, to spread his wings, even though, if history is any guide, they will be wings of mediocrity. As one who proudly uses the term “above average” in his résumé, who becomes swollen with misplaced pride after accomplishing the simplest of tasks, such as flossing, I nonetheless wanted to try something completely different. Plus, there was nothing good on TV.

For a middle-aged man looking for new pursuits, the choices are unlimited. The interests of my youth were still tempting, of course, but I didn’t want to settle too quickly on becoming a cowboy or astronaut. Nuclear science sounded like a good hobby, but it would probably require some remedial study. Likewise, weekend fishmonger carries a certain cachet, what with the cool rubber apron. But in the end, I settled on the violin.

I mean, how hard could it be? Several of my friends have young children who take lessons, and they don’t have half the life skills I could apply to learning the instrument. (I’m an excellent typist, for example, giving me the dexterity one needs to play in, like, the New York Philharmonica, or whatever.) Plus, attending weekly beginners classes with 5- to 8-year-olds would mean that, finally, I’d be the big kid in school. (Oh, yes ... it’s payback time.) Unfortunately, a person my age is not welcome in that class, so my mother won’t experience the joy of attending a concert and whispering to a friend, “That’s my son, the tall one in the back.”

So I settled for a private teacher, a respected soloist who was a child prodigy at age 12 and, unlike most prodigies, grew up to be the size of an offensive lineman. This is definitely NOT a guy whose motorcycle you want to mess with, if he has one, which he doesn’t, although he sure looks like he does.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2007
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