Public Displays of Talent

by M. Lizabeth Currain

or PDT’s as they will be referred to henceforth, I hate them. PDT’s should probably be filed under pet peeves, but since I was subjected to one today, I figured I would share it with you all. As most of you know, I work in a thrift store, where all the items are donated. Occasionally we get musical instruments, like guitars or PIANOS. First of all, pianos are loud; there’s not really a way to test them out quietly–I wish there was, because second point, pianos are obnoxious. I used to play the piano, but I gave it up. I wish I had some heart wrenching story about how I gave up playing piano because of long departed lover who taught me how to play and now every time I go near a piano it is too much for me to bear–but I don’t. I quit because I hated my piano teacher. She was a wench who spent most of her time hocking Melaleuca (also; melaleuca) products to my family. These products all smelled like tea tree oil, a lot of it. She also had enormous bunions. She always made me uncomfortable when she took off her shoes, yet grateful, because my feet did/do not look like that. To make a long story short, I don’t like it when people play piano, unless they are performing in a recital, because then it is appropriate.

So today; and pretty much every time we have a piano(s) in the store; people are constantly testing it out. There are probably four different categories that I can put these people in. The first is the person who can’t play at all. They just come in, tap a few keys to see what it sounds like and goes on their way. They don’t produce any melody, just a few notes. I like these people, because they know when to stop.

The second; and you’ll notice that as the categories progress, my hatred grows; are what I like to call “chopsticks”…because that is all they play. They think it’s amusing, entertaining, and/or cute. It’s not. It’s annoying. Chopsticks is only funny if you are Tom Hanks at FAO Schwartz (oddly enough, FAO is not as magical in person as it is in that movie) playing on a giant floor keyboard, in the movie BIG. You are not impressing anyone. You are not making anyone laugh. And you are not making anyone, i.e. me, like you. At all.

The third are the people that have no musical talent, but insist that they do, by forging through some piece of music that they can’t play. The song ruiner. This happens countless times a day. It’s almost kind of sad. You can tell they are trying really hard, and really want to impress us with their musical know-how, but it’s not working. Because they don’t know how to play–and what they are playing isn’t real music. One man once butchered a song to the point that one of my coworkers said, “I used to really like that song, until he started trying to play it.” This is probably what category I would fit into, if I was stupid enough to play a piano in public. But I’m not.

The fourth and final, and frankly the most frustrating and annoying, are the people that have talent, and play the piano like they are performing at Carnegie Hall. Also, I don’t want to stereotype and generalize here, but it’s almost always people of Asian decent. And for some reason Asian children. They are good at a lot of things; for example and also, and this (I love gymnastics! It’s another thing I quit. I also love quiting things, but that’s a whole other story) too. I think it’s most annoying when it’s children playing the piano at a freakishly high skill level. It’s like their parents are forcing them to play, to put on a show, and let people know how good they are. Stage parents are creepy–and so are their children (ed. note: HA!). However, when a teenager, or an adult comes in, and starts playing Mozart’s Piano Sonata no. 14 in C minor, and a crowd starts forming, and then they start clapping! It makes me want to be like, “Oh, Really?! Are You Serious?!” Are these people so starved for attention that they have to come into a thrift store to SHOW OFF? It’s like the people who post pictures on MySpace or Facebook and have captions like, “OMG, I am so ugly! Why am I so ugly?”, so people will leave comments like, “you are so not ugly, I wish I looked like you! Seriously, you are so pretty, I wish I had your hair. I hate you! J/K! I love you. But seriously, I wish I had your hair.” They want people to go up to them and tell them how good they are so they can be modest (false modesty by the way) and keep receiving accolades. It makes my blood boil. It happens a lot where I work and it always irritates me. I’ve always been this irritated by it. We had a piano in our house, and when people would come over, they couldn’t resist playing it. Starved for attention. This is why, when people start playing the piano at work, I say, “You bought it.” It makes them stop. If they bought it, that would mean they would have to take it home and the general public wouldn’t be able to awestruck with how talented they are.

This PDT also includes dancing. Three college aged kids came into the store one day, and I am not sure what music was playing, but they started showing each other dance moves in the back–like they were the coolest people ever. It was one girl with a couple of guys, so of course she was trying extra hard to be cool in front of them, by making herself look like a jackass.

These people don’t get it. No one is thinking about how cool or talented they are. We; i.e. me; are only thinking about how lame they are, and how much we want a lighting fixture to fall on their stupid face.