Note: this is a re-post from my old blog Lone Star Concerto
When I was studying music in college, I practically lived in practice rooms. I practiced the piano several hours a day - - while also balancing a frenzy of rehearsals with orchestras, chamber groups, and soloists. As if this wasn't enough, I was also a student piano teacher for several semesters. To say that my musical life was full would be an understatement.
One of my piano teachers was a former Julliard professor named Raymond Jones. His wife also taught at the college. My practice room was adjacent to her classroom and she would often chide me for practicing too loudly. Bursting into the practice room in a breathless fluster, she'd demand me to "play quietly" and admonish me for "seriously disrupting" her class.
On good days Mrs. Jones always acted a bit peculiar. On bad days she was downright bizarre. Eventually it was discovered that she had a brain tumor, which she succumbed to within a year.
Fortunately, my playing didn't annoy everyone. Curious people often stopped by the practice room to hear me play. One of these music aficionados was a young woman named Linda, who was the niece of actor Tyrone Power. She would share stories about her famous uncle and show me family photos. Linda had a small baby who contracted pneumonia and she dropped out of college to care for him. I never saw her again.
Another admirer who frequented my practice room was an attractive "girl" named Janice. She was studying singing and had a decent voice. I knew that Janice was smitten by my irresistible charm (hey, what can I say?) but I didn't initially realize just how serious she was.
One afternoon I drove her to her tennis lesson. She assumed that this innocuous gesture meant I was interested. Despite the fact that I gave no encouragement, her admiration for me increased.
A short time later, a fluke of fate tossed us together again. Janice was giving a solo singing recital at the college. At nearly the very last minute, her accompanist cancelled for some emergency that I can't recall. Major panic ensued and a very flustered professor accosted me, asking (begging) me to take over as pianist.
I (reluctantly) acquiesced and was immediately handed a pile of music manuscripts. The concert was to start in less than half an hour. I had never seen any of the music before and had never previously accompanied Janice anywhere except to the damn tennis lesson.
The only preparation that I had came from a bottle of whiskey that I kept stashed under the front seat of my car. I took several generous swigs for courage.
I made my way to the stage and sat at the grand piano. Janice began singing. I began sight-reading and faking my way through the likes of Purcell, Brahms, and Vaughn Williams. Incredibly, the concert went off without a noticeable hitch. I was lauded for involuntarily saving the day. In a surge of effusive romanticism, Janice assumed I was her hero. She was enamored. We'd made beautiful music together!
After our haphazard musical debut she began following me everywhere like a homeless puppy. Constantly calling me, sending scented notes, eventually sending daily letters of endearment (this was before the advent of email). Her enthrallment escalated into stalking the living hell out of me.
I was admittedly sweet and charming back then (you'd never know it now, would you?). And I was not only congenial, but also easy. To some extent I might have possibly slightly encouraged the girl's rapture. Inadvertently, of course.
Fortunately, I didn't have to worry about being stalked for long. It all came to a surprisingly abrupt end one afternoon at the college.
It happened in the main auditorium. During a rehearsal with the college chamber orchestra. I was the harpsichordist for a performance of Handel's oratorio Samson. We were in the middle of the overture.
Suddenly one of the auditorium doors burst open. A burly-looking guy in Army fatigues stormed in and strutted right up to the harpsichord. I could hardly believe what was happening but I could definitely smell his wrath.
His shouting reverberated throughout the room with perfect acoustics and his message was like a venomous bite.
"You better stop screwing with my wife!" he shouted at me. He didn't actually say "screwing". He was a little more graphic.
"What?" I was in the advanced stages of shock.
"Janice is my wife, you bastard! If you go near her again I'll kill you! I mean it!"
I believed him.
I'm actually politely paraphrasing what he said. I can't remember the exact words, but the killing part was permanently etched in my mind.
As the irate Army dude haughtily huffed out of the room, I could hear a collective gasp from the orchestra. Nobody knew what to do. I tried to gather my shredded wits.
"Next time we rehearse, I'll wear a bullet-proof vest."
It was all I could think of saying. It didn't generate much laughter.
I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that Janice was married. She sure as hell never bothered to tell me. I later learned that her husband had been stationed in Georgia and was home on leave. I have no clue how he found out about me.
So, you're all asking the Big Question: did Janice and I ever have sex?
Hey, I seldom kiss and tell.....and why the hell should I spill it all for free in a public blog? Wait until I publish my memoirs. You'll get your money's worth.
I will say that in those glorious days of my California youth I often attracted drama and generated sexual tension. I'm not bragging or being "self-absorbed" (as my blog critics enjoy pointing out). I'm merely telling the truth.
I was always an equal-opportunity offender.
One time, at the L.A. Music Center, two gay guys had a horrendous very public fight over me during the intermission at a performance of Carmen. No lie. But that's another story for another time.
Maybe some day I'll get soused and be in a generous enough mood to tell it.
Sweet youth......sweeter memories.....