Deaf, Dumb & Blind Kid

My beautiful pictureI wanted to be a musician. Dad had other plans.

It’d be helpful to find some diary entry, a comment in a letter, or anything that would back up that assertion. There isn’t, so you’re gonna have to take my word.

Dad just wasn’t musical. He had a tin ear when singing hymns in church, evincing only a croak or mutter. Although he’d brought back a ukelele from his Army service in Korea, I don’t recall him ever playing it. And Mom—she really threw herself into learning to play the piano and organ, and encouraged me and baby brother to take up music.

So in February 1978, when I committed to a performance slot in the high school talent show the week after Sno-Daze (our annual mid-winter celebrations), I remember catching a pique of disdain from Dad at the dinner table.

The show was set for Saturday, Feb. 25—just over ten days before I’d be getting on a jet with my fellow exchange students bound for Frankfurt, West Germany. I spent my free mods practicing Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Jeremy Bender” on the upright piano in the Music Resource Center’s Practice Room #4. The plan was to have Skeeze accompany me on drums and sing (my vocal range is similar to Dad’s—a croaky bass) while I played some licks on a Moog synthesizer we’d planned to rent.

Back in school on Monday, Feb. 13, I noted an awkward moment with Karen when I stopped to talk to her in the hall—“something didn’t click and I really felt dumb—even embarrassed. I didn’t talk to her for the remainder of the day.”  It was Valentine’s Day eve and the pressure was on. Kim was still seeing Jon and I’d broken up with Stephanie. It was a tough place to be.

I’d still been writing letters to Lisa and, while feeling “pretty pissed off and depressed,” I admitted Lisa’s exhortation that a more psychologically purging word like “disappointed” was preferable to “depressed.” I was glad she was around, even at a distance.

Thursday brought “Boys-Don’t-Talk-to-Girls Day.” Guys wore nametags and if the girls got them to talk, they collected the nametag for a prize at the end of the school day. Instead of my name, I dubbed myself: Tommy: Deaf, Dumb and Blind Kid. And not for long: I responded to Janet Olson’s sly “Hi” in the hall. She nabbed it.

That night Mike Elyea, Steve and I drove to Golden Valley where we picked up the Moog we’d rented for the talent show. After bringing it to Skeeze’s, I was appalled to learn he was coming down with the ’flu. He wasn’t sure, but I might have to go on that night solo. My stomach was flip-flopping like a freshly caught sunfish.Trumpet1960

Saturday, Feb. 18, fellow senior Barry Royce stopped by to pick me up for our AFS Program seminar at Fridley High School. We met the program leaders, John Caine and Connie Huckaby and, as the diary reports, “a lot of cute Fridley girls [who are] going and talk has already started…”

That night was also the big Sno-Daze dance at Grandview Junior High. I rode shotgun with Harvey only after we’d stopped at his Mom’s house to secretly mix some cocktails. Our poison of choice was super-strong Manhattans with maraschino cherries. At the school, Kim showed up with Jon, but I got to dance with her to “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” and gave her a post-birthday kiss. Thank you, Elton John!

Monday was a no-school day, so I shuttled Brian and three of his friends in the Dartillac to Hyland Hills for a day of skiing. After dropping them off, I looked in at Eden Prairie mall and bought an ice cream cone.

Driving home alone after another stop at the McDonald’s on Highway 7, the 4:15 p.m. setting sun glaring through the windshield, I ran through the red light at the intersection with Highway 101—

—and straight into a red, low-bed pickup.

~ by completelyinthedark on December 1, 2012.

2 Responses to “Deaf, Dumb & Blind Kid”

  1. I save all of these, you know!! hugs!

    ……………………………………………………………………………..   a r t i s t m n . c o m ……………………………………………………………………………..


    Liked by 1 person

  2. can’t ya hear me knockin?

    Liked by 1 person

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