I stopped playing piano before most people started lessons, so it hardly counts. My fingers span ten keys: an octave and two. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told I’m wasting my hands.
The first instrument I definitely didn’t play was flute. I spent years pretending I was a flautist. In fifth grade band there was a choosing day, as solemn as any overseen by a Sorting Hat. I walked into the room with my hands carefully cupped around my air flute. When I left, I was a euphonium player; turns out you have to pay to play the flute.
In high school, I didn’t play guitar. I asked my dad to teach me once or twice, carefully, too prickly-teen to say I just want to spend time with you or I miss fishing. He told me I could practice on the guitar he didn’t care about and handed me a book of Beatles tunes and sent my to my room alone. I came home from college a few years later, guitar in hand, and he was showing my sister how to make chords, play notes, do innovative things. I sat in the corner of the room until they told me I couldn’t play with them because I only knew one strum pattern and it was boring.
My career not playing bassoon is almost too brief to mention: I wanted to play Grieg and the symphony director pulled out Holst. Holst loves a euphonium. So did I.
I didn’t sing all through high school and college. There was a bit of a barbershop quartet for the kids who waited for the Late Bus; since I got a ride from my mother I was there at the same time they were. They all got into a capella and jazz choir; I accompanied their tryouts.
There’s a red Fender Jazz Bass upstairs, leaning against a little cube amp. It’s old enough that I could have picked out the bass line to Zombie, if I played bass. I’m finicky about the balance on my stereos. I want more bass, always. Sometimes my fingers try to make shapes on the steering wheel, span frets that aren’t there.
“She loves baritone,” my sister said, while my niece wasn’t looking. “Can we borrow yours?”
I mean. It’s not like I play.