My first (terrifying) piano lesson

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So I like the idea of trying new things; of challenging myself; of breaking down barriers.

This year, I’m tackling two.

First, I bought some goggles about four months back, and have been regularly doing laps at the nearby pool. Which sucks and is no fun whatsoever—but the fitness benefits are huge.

Second, I’m taking piano lessons.

This is something I’ve thought about—off and on—for a while. When I was a kid I never played an instrument, but as an adult I’ve watched my daughter study piano for the past six or seven years. I’ve always loved listening to her lessons; attending her little recitals. I’m an enormous children-playing-an-instrument guy; far more than I’m a children-playing-organized-sports guy. There are just endless benefits, without any drawbacks.

Anyhow, I finally had my first lesson yesterday. The teacher is a woman in her 30s. She instructs my daughter every week, and I’m always struck by her upbeat disposition and perkiness. So she entered our house at 5:30, and we sat down at the piano. She began to talk and show me some finger placements, when … when … I started sweating. And sweating. And sweating. It was weird and disconcerting. Her lips were moving, but what I heard was “Mwah mwah mwah mwah.” She said something about D, E and F—and I couldn’t grasp it.

More sweat.

More sweat.

More sweat.

I’m pretty sure I was experiencing a panic attack. Which is peculiar, because I don’t think I’ve ever had one.

Actually, scratch that. I have had panic attacks. Or, at least, panicked moments. When I’m lost and late, I tend to freak out. There was also that time, two decades back, when I thought I was about to die while rafting. Sometimes on a particularly bumpy airplane …

I digress.

The teacher spoke, and I was unable to listen. I felt the ears of my family members in the other room. Were they laughing at me? Pitying me? Inside my head I was ruthlessly hard on myself—”What the fuck is wrong with you?” Gradually, I calmed down a bit, but it was mortifying.

When she left, I took a sip of water, sat down at the piano and played everything she taught me sans a moment of struggle.