Even now, decades later, it’s easy to visualize this. In eighth grade, I played second oboe in band – and yes, there were two of us. Mike Moxley played first. There I sat at 7 AM, bored out of my mind, probably daydreaming about the Youth Center Dance and idly twisting my music stand without realizing what I was doing.
It was neither my first nor my last mortification in band. I had no innate talent and no hope of developing any since I hated to practice. I’m not sure why I didn’t quit in 7th grade; perhaps Mr. Royer persuaded me to stick it out because Mike Moxley and I were the only two oboe players at Jefferson. I knew my tenure at second chair would terminate should another oboe player appear. This was hardly an imminent threat. Oboe wasn’t my first choice either but I was even more hopeless at flute.
The only song I recall from our limited repertoire was my favorite, The Green Leaves of Summer. I can still picture the sheet music and hear the melancholy chords.
“It was good to be young then – to be close to the earth”
At thirteen, mourning my lost youth brought tears to my eyes. Then again, it didn’t take much. I’m surprised I didn’t break down when I toppled the top of my music stand.