My musical ability had pleased my folks. It was just another way of bringing smiles to one’s parents…no harm in that. I assured myself that I could move on. If I played it right (no pun intended), I could put those accordion days behind me and, all things being equal, live a quality life. Finding myself was simply a matter of mind over matter. Another session was a good investment (seeking therapy was very “in”; all the women’s periodicals said so).
How nice to see you again, Annette. Please, make yourself comfortable.
Thank you, Doctor; it’s a pleasure to see you again as well.
I thought we might begin by using one of psychiatry’s oldest tools: some inkblots.
OH! You are talking about a Rorschach test! I’ve always been fascinated by its purpose. I love artsy stuff. This is very exciting!
Great! Then let’s begin, shall we? Here is the first inkblot. Just respond with your first thoughts….
(Long pause) Actually, I was hoping to see a butterfly or an angel.
What do you see, Annette?
Myron Floren’s hairline.
Let’s try another one. Tell me the first thing that comes to your mind…
Bubbles…like champagne… floating among notes and swirls…I see the letter L and one more…looks like a V…NO-wait…a W. Yes, it’s a W! The letters are L and W, entwined swirls, just like the Lawrence Welk logo!
I see…let’s try one more. Again, respond without over thinking it.
I see a left hand folding bellows on the return toward the keyboard; see, you can tell by the kink in the pleated pattern along the top, directly above the center bottom curve…
She put the inkblots away; obviously, this wasn’t going as she had hoped. We chatted a bit about favorite things that bring us smiles; I even shared my favorite accordionist joke – Which came first, Dick Contino or Myron Floren? She only smiled politely; I could tell she didn’t know the answer. (Note to myself: don’t quit my day job).
Thirty minutes later, the therapist pulled a paper from a rather dusty manila file, folded it into an envelope and sealed it. Handing it to me, she encouraged me to find an artistic outlet for self-expression, and then, after promising that I’d review the envelope’s contents, she wished me well. I thanked her for her time, and left for home deep in thought. When I spotted a Fenton’s ice cream parlor, I entered the drive thru and ordered my favorite Black and White Sundae to go, with lots of black candy buttons sprinkled over the top.
Once at home, I opened the envelope and began to read:
Fisarmonica Molto Scordatura (Italian)
Fisarmonica; Italian name for accordion; comes from the Greek word Harmonikus.
Molto; literally “very” (adjective; combined with music techniques on sheet music)
Scordatura; meaning “mistuning” or “alternate tuning” (adverb; originally describing a stringed instrument, adapted for non-reed instruments tuned apart from the standard)
Layman’s translation: a skilled accordionist, somewhat out of tune with his/her peers; an amicable, often amusing individual; in some social circles, this personality type is referred to as “one note short of an octave”.
This syndrome manifested itself after the last Golden Age of the Accordion, 1900 to 1960. Affected were descendants of European immigrants (i.e. Slavic, Italian, German, French and Basque) in whose families the accordion was held in high esteem. The nostalgic fixation on old world, squeezebox harmony was clearly present in the first groups studied, (circa 1970s). Psychiatrists remain divided as to whether the underlying causes are environmental or genetic, though multi-generational patterns suggest the latter. At this writing, the syndrome offers no public health threat.
Okay. There I was, reduced to a caricature in black and white. I’d need a safer haven than the west coast. So, I reached for one of my AA travel books; the one that included four Midwestern states. An uncle I very much admired had once remarked, “If you can’t beat them, join them”. Washington, Missouri was a small town situated on the Missouri river, at the gateway of wine country. Among the holidays and festivals celebrated were Harry Truman’s birthday and October Fest.
Time to find that artistic outlet for self-expression…