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April 5, 2008
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I remember when we got our first piano. It was a black upright. Not exactly gorgeous, but definitely a nice instrument. I was really excited to get my hands on the thing, but dad wasn’t too, um, keen on the idea -- "Keen"? Really? I say things like that sometimes even though I know they sound lame. What can you do, though? I didn’t have my first piano lesson until a few days later. Sounds of tinkling piano keys filled the room. Bassy notes caused the whole foundation to shake. It was a thing of beauty. It really was. Best part: It was me. I was playing it. My hands couldn’t throw a ball with any sort of accuracy at all, and I was picked on for it bad, but damn could they play a piano! I mean really! Just… damn!

That was, what -- like, five years ago? Yeah, I was about eight at the time, so, like, five years ago. So here I am, five years after I started playing the thing, and I’m still going. In fact, I’ve got a recital tonight. That’s why I’m all dressed up, see. My instructor tells me I have to be presentable, you know? Seriously, though, like, when am I not presentable? I don’t make it a point to dirty myself up or anything. I think she means I should be more than presentable, you know what I mean? Like, gussied up or something. Damn, I’m lame to even say that. “Gussied up” of all things. I dunno, I just think when someone tells you something, they should say what they mean. I mean, if she tells me to look presentable, I’ll look presentable. Then again, my idea of “presentable” is undoubtedly different than hers. However, if she were to say to me, “My boy, you’ve a recital this evening. Dress for the occasion: coat and tie and all that, you know -- tuxedo, if you have it. You must look distinguished!” Conversations in my mind sound like that, by the way. Sometimes the speakers even have British accents. Not sure what that’s about. Anyway, I’d ask her, “Perhaps you mean ‘distinguishable’? In that case, I’ve a few ideas of my own!” You know, just to get a laugh or something… or just to be a jerk. You know, whatever I was feeling at the time. My instructor’s one of those old-timers, though -- “Old-timers,” wow… -- and isn’t afraid to hit a kid. I’ve never been too thrilled about getting smacked in the teeth, though, so in the end I’d probably just end up enacting the event in my mind. Face it, it’s funnier that way. You know, what with avoiding child abuse and all.

Despite having to look, um, “presentable,” I am allowed to wear my favorite hat. One of those knit little numbers -- “Little numbers”? Who am I? -- a beany, a skullcap, a toque. I’m sure you know what I mean. Anyway, that’s the one less-than-classy thing I’m allowed to wear. You know what? That really is fine with me. I have this nice blazer to wear to these sort of things. It’s black, and I hear that it’s quite indistinguishable from something fancier -- you know, if you have bad eyes or squint a little bit. You know, speaking of my hat, I’m on in less than twenty minutes and I have no idea where the damn thing is.

I guess what I didn’t mention is that I was wearing that hat when I first learned to play piano. Yeah, it was big on me, and yeah, it’s absolutely filthy now. Seriously, I’ve never washed the thing. The fact of the matter is, I need it to play. It must be covered in gnome dust or leprechaun dust or fairy dust or something. You know, whatever it is that has magic dust. My point being, the thing’s lucky. What really gets me is whenever I lose  the thing -- hell, I’ve never lost it, it just gets misplaced -- whenever I misplace the thing, mom gets on my case right away. “If it’s so lucky, then how’d you lose it in the first place?” Ha-ha, mom, you’re hilarious. Really. She gets a big kick out of it, too. Anyway, my point: I’ve got -- damn -- like, fifteen minutes to find the thing. Hell.

After about, like, fifteen hours, I finally run into my mom. She’s talking with the parents of some of the other kids that’re playing tonight. I think some of those piano moms really are just the worst sort of people. I mean, really. I’ve talked to a lot of the other kids, and most of them really don’t want to be here. Still, you know, their parents are really just trying to get their kids to do the things they never did themselves when they were young. It’s pretty awful, if you ask me. Then, to top it off, they’re always bragging about what pieces their kids are working on. I don’t know about everyone else, but it really doesn’t impress me that your little Johnny is learning a piece by Mozart. I mean, they really are the same pieces everyone else learns. It’s not as big a deal as they make it out to be. Besides, it’s not a contest. Sure, I guess that’s the kind of thing a loser would say, but I actually am pretty good. Not a loser at least.

So anyway, mom’s talking to one of those awful piano moms and she doesn’t pay any attention to me when I call her name. Basically what I do in situations like this is I kick at her feet a little bit. I imagine it’s annoying as hell, and that’s probably why it works. Eventually she excuses herself from the conversation to pay attention to me. She’s not happy about it and kinda yells at me, but you can only yell so loud at one of these functions without coming off as crazy -- you know, or abusive. “I can’t find my hat,” I tell her. She opens her mouth like she’s about to make her dumb joke, and I put my hand up and say, “No. Ten minutes until show time and I’m seriously hatless.” She gives me one of those looks, like “so what.” I don’t think she ever really grasped the concept of a magic hat. It’s simple, really. She didn’t get it, though. “C’mon, mom!” She just shrugs a little bit. “We must have left it at home. You’ll have to go without it because there’s no time to go home.”

So that’s it, then. I’m on in less than ten and my hat’s MIA. I wonder if it’s too late to call my performance off for the night -- or, like, go to Walla Walla. That sounds like a pleasant enough place. Also sounds like a place where they don’t make you play piano without your hat. “Is something wrong? Stand up straight,” my instructor says from behind me as she puts her hand on my shoulder. She’s this gangly old lady with creepy long fingers. They’re the kind of fingers that are good for playing piano but really get in the way of everything else. “I left my hat at home.” I’m pretty sure she never even realized that I wore the thing to every lesson and every recital prior to this one. She gives me the same damn “so what” look that my mom gave me. “I can’t play without it. Seriously.” Her head nods and she smiles, like she really knows what I mean. “Listen,” she says, “did Dumbo need that feather to fly? No. He was able to fly all on his own.” It’s a seriously lame thing to relate my situation to, but she doesn‘t let up so quickly once she gets going. “You don’t need your hat to play piano. You’ve got all the skills you need within yourself.” God, what a dumb thing to say. Still, she might be right. Maybe I really don’t need the hat. I mean, I took all the lessons. I’ve gotta know a thing or two. “Break a leg.”

So I get out on stage, sit on the bench, and open up my music. Suddenly, I feel like I really can do this! Confidence just flows through my body and I feel awesome! I position my hands, take a quick look over the music, and take a deep breath.

They say that when you get older you’ll look back on certain things and laugh. It’s been fifty years since that performance, and I’m still playing piano. I’m pretty sure I always will be. Still, I’ve never been able to look back on that night and have a laugh about it. Every time I think about it, I just shake my head a little bit. God, that night, I was damn awful.
I was in the car and thought, "Piano hat." I immediately asked myself, "What's a piano hat?"

It seems I've answered my question.


On a technical note, I may hop around tense-wise. It needs some editing, I'm sure.


EDIT: Huh. A daily thinger. Cool. I rather like the influx of messages in my inbox.

Um, so, thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, thanks for favoriting. Read some of my other stuff, if you feel like it. Most of it's better, I swear.

Thanks to :iconplatinus: for the feature. Also, thank you, April 1st, I'm pretty sure your arrival is what made this possible.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2009-04-01
Ask yourself, "What is a Piano Hat?"Piano Hat by ~Panzyo Explains what it is in a Catcher in the Rye type of way. A great narrative about how a security blanket isn't always a blanket. ( Featured by Platinus )
:iconshyvampiress1997:
shyvampiress1997 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2012  Student General Artist
I love this. I've lost a hat recently, my favorite sock hat, and we moved beforeI found it. I need a new one before winter. Anyway, love the story. :heart:
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:iconcolorfulharmony:
coLoRFuLhARmoNy Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011   Digital Artist
this is great!
this story actually made remember many things from past when i didn't like playing the piano.(although i love it now)
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:iconscarlet-pikachu:
scarlet-pikachu Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2010
This is a piano hat! :XD: Great idea though, so moving.
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:iconlepatriinu123:
Lepatriinu123 Featured By Owner May 18, 2010
I'm not usually very interested in the literature part of dA, but this really touched me. It is a very heartwarming story, especially because I know how it is when you are just about to get on the stage, but are worrying about something, but then it actually turns out well.
Also, I featured this here: [link]
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:iconlucascaps:
LucasCAPS Featured By Owner May 28, 2009   Writer
That was actually pretty good!

It really feels like a diary written by a thirteen-year-old, except for the correct grammar, hahaha.

And the end is, um... interesting. :D

You're gonna modify this? I mean, it's published. Oh, well, dA does give that opportunity of eternal editing. I only modify my deviations for corrections. It happened only once so far.
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:iconravenxwriter:
ravenxwriter Featured By Owner May 1, 2009
I want to eat this story, I kid you not. It would be a really wholesome, hardy thing to eat. Good job.
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:iconzefiraelrain:
zefiraelRain Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Hmm, that's pretty good. maybe the paragraphs could be a bit shorter though, those long ones... but nice work.
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:iconchocoboracer:
ChocoboRacer Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow, a truly amazing story. I loved every minute of it. :+fav:
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:iconxpalewingsx:
xpalewingsx Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009
I know that everybody's comparing this to Catcher in the Rye, but it really does relate. Although, your main character isn't as cynical as Holden...

I love this. Partially because I love my piano. Mostly because I like Dumbo.
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:iconaridax:
Aridax Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2009  Student Digital Artist
I just have to admit, I love this. xD

Not only can I relate to this as a piano student, but as a person, the train of thought really connects with the reader. Thanks for the awesome read!
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