Over the course of one’s life it’s a given that one makes mistakes; some certainly bigger than others, a few medium ones and most small but lingering with stories to go with them to last a lifetime and bear signpost of warning to those who may follow. I myself have a dark mistake from my youthful teenage days that has haunted me these many years. It is something I am not proud of but it is at last time to confess and release myself from its hostage of my conscience. I hope you won’t think any the worse of me for this exposure of my human frailties.
In my Junior or Senior year of high school (I forget which it was just now) I did something that I later regretted and have since regretted, until last night. Though it isn’t out of character for me, it might indeed be an indicative characteristic of me and explains a whole lot of how I have developed to this point and why I am the way I am. Oh, the folly of youth. How green the leaves, how tightly woven the petals yet to be unfurled by age and wisdom. If it were but possible to venture back and change time…I would.
And so, dear friend, I, in my ignorant exuberance, found myself subject to the peer pressures of that age and did something I now find very embarrassing. I bought a harpsichord.
I know you are probably shocked by this confession but at the time I couldn’t resist the temptation to be the first on my block to own one and be placed in the same categories as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Lurch. I ventured into the antique shop and there, beneath the sheet coverlet, it was. I KNEW in an instant what it was and I had to have it. And so I bought it.
It was mine. MINE! I was drunk with excitement. High with joy. I owned my very own harpsichord….the glee…the bliss. Did I play it? No. Could I play it? No. Did I have plans to learn how to play it? No. So why did I get it? Because it was there! And so, it sat in my living room for the four years of college, a sure conversation piece if ever there was one. I spent many hours trying to research it, its age, its construction, its maker, to no avail. I tortured the librarian by ordering obscure books from far away libraries to find out what it was I bought on such a whim. I learned more about what it wasn’t than what it was. Not a Sabathil nor a Zuckerman. It’s walnut body lacked the sensuous curve of them. The Jacks and the plectrums were OLD with bird quills, yet the design wasn’t like any other. The soundboard was curved but it was supposed to be that way. Who in their right mind would make something like this? Who in their right mind would buy something like this?
When my job with the museum opened, the instrument was brought for display and has been used, on again off again, but mostly in the way since. By an offhand remark expressing my desire to be rid of this albatross from my dumber years, fortune stepped in with someone else looking for just such a creature to be theirs.
Huzza! Hooray! A chance to redeem myself and wipe clean the slate of my youthful mistake. A check was made out for $80 to me for something that cost me $75 and for which I was only expecting $50 and was willing to give freely for moving. And so dear friend….my burden is lifted. I stand before you a man without a harpsichord and no desire to own one again. A lesson learned and curiously profited from too, proving all true about one being born every minute.