At work, I've been using my iPad to stream Pandora for background music. One can only listen to the same new-agey cd's so many times before you want to join a cult, shave off all your hair, and worship the great flying spaghetti monster in the sky. People expect new-agey spaghetti monster worshipping music during a massage, so I created a station based off of Enya. I know, I know. I'm embarrassed to admit that I went through an Enya stage in high school and lived in my own little candle-lit, incense-burning world. It does however create the sort of music vibe that people expect from a massage.
On a super-quick side note, I hope No Strings (that new Ashton Kutcher movie) goes away very fast. If there's anything worse than an ad coming on during a quiet massage, it's one that has dialogue like "we're going to go out tonight and GET LAID!!" and "We're sluts! Dirty dirty sluts!", and mentions the word "sex" a bajillion times. I've never tolerated the jokes about "massage" very well, and this is the LAST thing I want playing while I'm working on someone. When I go out to a bar or a club (when the moon rises in the house of cancer every 10 years), and a guy chats me up (every 20 years when Haley's comet goes by), I don't even tell them what I do for a living. I just say "I'm in physical therapy." Which isn't a lie, by the way. I don't do light, fluffy, full body massages at my job. I do "elbow in your back and laugh at you while you scream in pain" massage. I'm kidding, but only a little bit. What I do walks a very fine line between massage therapy and physical therapy. If I ever mention the fact that I'm a massage therapist, I get one of two responses.
Response #1: Oooooh, really? Can you work on my shoulders here for a minute? They're so tight! (or) I can be your new boyfriend/best friend and you can work on me ALL THE TIME!!
Response #2: Oh, REALLY!! *smarmy tone of voice* *nudge nudge wink wink*
Either response makes me want to get violent extremely quickly.
But I digress. While listening to the spaghetti monster worshipping woo-woo music, the occasional movie soundtrack song plays. Today, the main theme from Forrest Gump came on. I promptly started sweating, broke out in hives, and developed an acid hole in my stomach. Here's why.
I've been a musician my entire life. When I was 6, I started taking piano lessons after spending hours plunking around my grandparents' organ at their ranch in New Mexico. Grandmom thought I had a natural talent, so asked if I wanted to take lessons. I said yes. At 7, my elementary school forced us to choose an instrument to learn, and I vaguely remembered my Mom saying something about "wouldn't it be nice to have a cello around the house?"...although she doesn't remember ever saying such a thing. I took to the cello like a house on fire, and it remained my main instrument to this day. Junior high and high school added percussion and drumline, but that has nothing to do with this story. Piano was okay, but I HATED practicing. I'd get so angry at my Mom for forcing me to practice that I would purposely bang furiously and discordantly at the piano in the hopes that it tortured her. My rage was uncontainable. I was an angry child. But cello? I was very good, and a very natural talent (if I do say so myself). Cello and I were bff's.
My music teacher in Jr. High was convinced that I had perfect pitch and was a musical prodigy. He even gave me all the solos from Dances With Wolves that were written for violin, and had me transpose them into cello parts. It gave me a ginormous head. That carried over into high school, mainly because I was unbeatable and held first chair like my ass was welded to it. I think it was my sophomore year (maybe junior) that our director decided to do a movie program, which included the Forrest Gump suite. You know the one, super sappy, supposed to bring a tear to your eye. He asked me if I would be willing to take the piano solo that features throughout the entire piece. Hell yeah I would! I'm a god! I can do anything! Remember when I said I hated practicing more than anything? Yeeeaaahhh.....I didn't practice it.
Then, the concert came around. I was a little bit freaked out, but I don't remember obsessing about it too much and having every faith I'd be just fine. Everybody clapped as I laid my cello down on the stage next to the first chair position and took a seat at the keyboard. Mr. M raised his baton and we began. It started off okay, because the initial piano part isn't too difficult. Soon though, it splits off into fifths and more complicated parts, and I am NOT a good sight reader. I fumbled. Badly. Loudly. My face turned beet red, and there were a few titters from the audience. Mr. M shot me a look like "get your shit together!", and my face turned purple. I soldiered onward, with notes that were so wrong, they couldn't get any more wrong. More titters from the audience, worse dark looks from Mr. M. Oh dear. Soon, I gave up the left hand part altogether and tried my best to follow the right hand part. VERY badly. Mr. M didn't look at me anymore and his baton movements got markedly more sharp and abrupt. I think his face even got a bit red at that point. I felt like throwing up and wished the stage would randomly develop a trap door and swallow me whole. What the hell do you do? You can't run, you can't hide under your own concert dress, so I did the only thing I could do. I stopped. Just stopped playing and gave up. Mr. M started looking over at me again and gave sharp, jagged downbeat signals, thinking maybe I had just lost my place in the sheet music or something. Why am I not being eaten by a rabid tyrannosaurus? How am I still sitting here, enduring this complete and utter mortification? I think that was the final death of my pride. And it was my own damn fault. WHY had I not practiced more? WHY had I told Mr. M I would take this extremely featured solo?
At the end of the piece, I joined back in for the final few phrases, bravely pretending I'd been on top of it the whole time. Was my face glowing neon red/purple? It certainly felt like it. People clapped (probably thrilled this squirm-in-your-seat train wreck was over), and I think I stood and bowed like I was supposed to. Mr. M wouldn't look at me, but gestured his hand over in my direction like a conductor with a featured soloist is supposed to do. I think his neck veins were bulging and his jaw muscles were bunching.
I honestly can't remember what happened after that point. I must have blocked it out (like a bazillion other humiliating memories), but I still break out in a rash every time I hear the Forrest Gump suite. My stomach does that imploding, cringe thing and I visibly wince every. Single. Time. I'm so sorry, Mr. M. I have tons of wince-worthy, stomach-imploding memories that humiliate me anew every time I think of them (oooohhh, lordy, do I ever...) but that one definitely ranks in the top five. And so, dear reader, I share my embarrassment with you. I hope you get a bit of a chuckle, or a sympathy cringe from it.
Run, Forrest, run! *sigh*.......if only I could have........