Justin has been tickling the ivories since he was five years old, and not ONCE has any piano or keyboard ever laughed as a result. Almost two score years later, his determination remains entirely undiminished. He has no memory of what early childhood experience somehow brought him to the firm conclusion that obtaining a piano was non-negotiable. He does, however, remember the successful tactic he used to get what he wanted: a bold-faced threat. Specifically, a threat cloaked in the form of a delightful poem that he wrote out and delivered straight-faced to his well-meaning but easily manipulable parents. He is not sure if the original manuscript of this, his first true artistic oeuvre, still exists somewhere, but still he remembers it quite well as going like this:
“I want a piano.
I really really do.
And if I do not get one,
I’ll cry the whole day blue.”
Needless to say, his parents at this point had no choice but to comply. Shortly thereafter, Justin remembers well looking out through the open front door of his house and seeing the piano being unloaded from a truck. It had a pale cloth covering, but Justin quickly deduced what it must be: not only from the shape of it, but from a secure confidence that his ploy could only have succeeded. His parents’ behaviors made clear, however, that they wanted the unveiling itself to be the moment of surprise, so Justin gave them what they wanted; it was the least he could do. For their sake, he played the part of the fool, pretended not to be able to put two and two together and deduce that the piano-shaped object under the sheet was, indeed, a piano. Once the instrument was revealed, he gave the best thespian portrayal of five-year old astonishment that he could pull off. He then thanked them both profusely, of course.
Flash forward through the many years to the present, and you will now find Justin up on a stage of all places, a full fledged member of the one and only Sandy Connolly Band, sharing and spreading the surreal joy of music, hoping that the muses do not abandon him during his solos, and enjoying every minute of it. Of course, he could not and did not foresee any of this at the age of five, but he had a clear intuition at the time that the road to where he wanted to go was paved with ebony and ivory. To start down this road, yes, it was necessary to issue a hollow threat, and perhaps sacrifice a small bit of his dignity, but clearly his gambit has paid off.