September 29, 2017:

"It was her way of discouraging my interest," I speculated yesterday. That would be the conspiratorial explanation. Equally plausible would be her perfect ineptitude.

On the advice of authority — the sales creeps at our neighborhood music store — she'd bought for me a two-thirds size Vox nylon-string acoustic with a fixed bridge and faulty intonation. It was not possible to tune that guitar. It's still not possible — I have it to this day, and I promise you it can't be tuned. I wanted to play "Twist and Shout", so she sent me to lessons at the same neighborhood music store where in a back room studio the teacher that was recommended to her had me sight-reading "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" from the first Mel Bay book. Yay.

So that in my discouragement and demoralization I failed to practice, failed to give a shit, and failed to fake my way through either tuning (destined to fail) or sight-reading (destined to fail), leading her to the incompetent adults-are-idiots conclusion that the faults were mine and inbuilt: that I'm tone-deaf (can't tune the guitar) and have no sense of rhythm (can't sight-read fluidly). Not that she'd ineptly chosen a broken guitar and an inappropriate teacher who never once asked what interested me but instead collected his fee weekly for a year or two without paying the simplest attention to who his student was or what his ambitions might be.

As a child without a vote I suffered through this demoralization silently, thinking, The grownups know best, internalizing the notions that I was tone deaf and had no sense of rhythm, and therefore would never play the music which all my instincts told me loud and clear was my one great love in life. Emphasis on loud.

It's her birthday today. I'm sixty-one years old and this is the way I'm remembering her.

Don't do this to your kids.