do you remember the summer i spent chasing my piano teacher around boston venues and record shops, trying to get him to fall in love with me?
yes, a classic story of unrequited love, years and years in the making.
in high school, i decided to go to college for music and it was clear i'd have to learn to play the piano. so, a friend of my aunt had a son a year or two older than me who was a great piano player and our mothers conspired to hire him to teach me.
as soon as i opened the front door and saw his 70s vintage fur trimmed tweed coat, i fell in love.
which meant it was impossible to sit next to him on the piano bench and say anything coherent, let alone anything flirty or smart. and i never practiced. which made him angry with me. like every other music teacher i ever had to let down on a weekly basis my whole life because i just HATE TO PRACTICE. i know i know i know that practicing is the ONLY way to get better and actually learn but i have always found it so boring and tedious and that's not me.
i like doing and playing NEW things. i like improvising, sight-reading, trying something new and falling into that flow state that only playing music with another person one on one can bring. there's a friendship and an intimacy achieved that you can't get any other way – but not like sex... not that i had any experience with that in high school... i just dreamed about it, and for sure i dreamed about having sex with chris. maybe if i had spent that time practicing instead, who knows, i might have had a better chance...
my lessons didn't last very long, but the next summer, i went to band camp with chris' best friend dan and a bunch of folks from our local private catholic school. it wasn't far from where i lived and me and my friend thommy kept in touch and hung out with them all the next year. i got to see chris, and for a bit, i played tenor sax in his band. you weren't born yet so you wouldn't remember, talula, but i do – we were playing "don't let me be misunderstood" by the animals and he had given us all the line to play and on the repeat, i played a harmony line, and after, he asked which of us did that and he smiled when i took my credit for it. right there, i knew he loved me back... of course! right? he SMILED at me = he loves me. duh, i know math...
his friend dan played bass and he was as sweet as chris was salty. he was always introducing me to new music, like ben folds five and belle and sebastian. chris didn't seem to like anyone but dan, but he let me hang with them. then chris and dan went away to college in boston together. and this was before facebook or cell phones and we still paid long distance phone service by the minute so we didn't keep in touch except during summers and it was only with lots of other people. so, i let my crush just rest at a natural smoldering place.
i had plenty else to distract me. i went to school to study music (without having learned to play piano), then i moved to boston to study math, got a job making websites, graduated and one day, i was in a record shop buying a jazz cd and there he was. there was chris.
that's when the chase begun. i had fallen in love with, dated and broken up with amy and was trying to get over this whole 'being gay thing' and here was my old crush. in a record store down the street from where i was working in harvard square, which meant "we were meant to be" and so i went there... a lot... i didn't even have a record player at the time, but everyone traded in used cds then (which i still do).
one night, my friend fraenzi and i met chris and a guy he worked with at the record store at a bar next door to the shop after their shift. this guy was so goddamned good looking and so is my friend fraenzi, so i thought for sure there'd be a spark there. i also assumed this was a double date. but, no matter how much we drank, there was nothing between them and nothing between chris and i.
then, one night a few weeks later, i finally decide that i was sick of this shit and i was just gonna talk to him, so i met him at a bar near his house. we started talking about that night and he told me that the other guy from the store came to that bar to see ME and had been asking him about ME. he said 'do you know how many girls come to the store just to see HIM?' to which i replied 'no, i don't. but i feel pretty stupid, as the one coming to the store just to see YOU...'
and that was the last time i saw him or dan.
when i used to hang out at their apartment in brighton, they introduced me to some great music. i'd go over to their place to try to make out with chris and instead, he'd make me listen to The Donnas, The Cramps and watch music documentaries.
we'd go to shows. one night i went with them to a show at the Lizard Lounge to see a local band they loved called helms. i didn't need to know anything else – i trusted their taste. and oh my god i was NOT let down. just 3 people but the sound of a thousand mighty horses. an octopus of a drummer, a master of hammers on guitar and sparsest of vocals, and tina helms on bass. fucking brilliant. i bought the album and listened to it at full volume every night to go to sleep. it was like having the day beaten off my face with a sledgehammer made of gold.
over the years, i've seen them again but they play so infrequently and mostly only in boston. but they are coming to williamsburg this weekend and i am going with khalil and i can't wait. the drummer dan is also an incredible visual artist and i follow him on instagram. he plays the drums and literally sounds like 2 people playing at once. i'm psyched to buy a special print he's making for this show that will be a map of williamsburg and cover the blocks near the venue, which is near where i used to work, play and live.
do you remember going to shows talula? i don't... this will be my first in two years thanks to the 'rona...