Radio Diaries: Secret of Popularity

Sep 11, 2017

My mother puts the kitchen timer on the piano and sets it for 15 minutes.  I sit on the bench and open my practice book.  First I do scales and then the stupid little songs about snow flakes and rain drops and spring flowers.

When the buzzer goes off, I quit playing and bolt from the piano.  “You could at least finish the song,” my mother says in her disappointed voice.

“I hate practicing,” I say as I open the refrigerator.

“But playing the piano will make you popular,” my mother says.  Lord knows I want to be popular.  I want to be Cookie Jones because all the boys love her.  I wonder if she plays the piano but she never talks to me.

I ask my piano teacher if I can play the songs I hear on the radio.  Miss Wurzburg says I’m not ready.  Miss Wurzburg has dyed red hair under her little felt hat and rouge on her wrinkled cheeks.  She lives alone with four cats.

“If Miss Wurzburg was so popular, why didn’t she get married?” I ask my mother.

There is a long silence and she says, “If you want to stop at the end of this year, you can.”

And I do.