Many years ago we had a family reunion with all my aunts and uncles and their families in San Francisco. The granchildren gave performances every evening in honor of my grandparents, who had flown all the way from Korea to be with their sons and daughters. My cousins are an accomplished lot, and like most Korean children, they were given music lessons from the moment they became zygotes. In nightly talent shows our cousins would perform for my grandparents. One cousin played alto sax like Charlie Parker. His sister played Chopin études with a sensitivity and understanding that belied her youth. Cousin after cousin displayed their brilliance at the piano. The youngest cousin, a mere toddler at the time, sang a lovely song with admirable poise and considerable charm.
My siblings and I were the only ones who were apparently devoid of any talent. As my sister explained, she and my other sister had in fact received piano instruction when they were little girls. They received exactly one lesson before they were fired by their teacher, who proclaimed it a hopeless cause. That teacher was our mother.
So at the family reunion, night after night my siblings and I sat, politely clapping for our cousins as they gave one virtuoso performance after another. One night, some of the cousins pushed my brother Teddy forward. Finally, our family’s talent was going to be showcased for our venerable grandparents! All week Teddy had been regaling the cousins with Eddie Murphy routines. Now, Teddy gamely stood up and performed a completely inappropriate routine for my grandparents. While I can’t remember the exact details, I’m sure there were penises involved. My grandparents probably didn’t understand a word he was saying, but tears were rolling down their cheeks as they laughed hysterically.
We were so very proud.
My siblings and I may never have had any talent, but our kids did their best to redeem us:
For the finale, the kids performed In My Life, by the Beatles. My son had arranged a version for the three of them to play and he had cracked the whip like a martinet all month long trying to get them to do it right…
We were all glad when that was over and it was time for cake!
Tomorrow: Teddy’s speech and Sibling Love