Usually, February is a dreary month, one that lasts for about nineteen years. I often find myself counting the minutes during the doldrums of February. Not this year. The days are flying by. I’m having a really, really good time, largely because:

1) Paco has decided he loves the Billy Joel song “Piano Man.” While that song has always rated moderately high on my cheeseball scale, I am now playing it for the lad on the piano fairly frequently–and in the process, I’m realizing what a great song it is. Paco even had to sit down next to me the other day on the piano bench and sing along. What’s more, Byron showed Paco videos of Billy Joel singing it in the 1970s and then singing it more recently. Time has not been kind to Mr. Joel’s voice. Between listening to Joel’s gravely choke and watching the charming Adele belt away in her triumphant post-polyp removal return to the stage, I am left missing my father, the opera singer, tremendously. My formative years were filled with his admonitions to voices on the radio that if they didn’t learn to sing right, they’d get nodes on the their vocal chords and lose their voices all together. He passed away nine years ago this month, but Dad is still right. He may be dead, but he wins.

So, anyhow, I’m playing a lot of “Piano Man,” occasionally leading a sing-along, and just loving that the third grader can usually be found making his Beyblades battle while humming that hit from the ’70s under his breath. A few days ago, when a few folks were in the kitchen, engaged in chat, they had to stop for a moment and listen to what was going on at the piano. Paco, fresh off his third-ever piano lesson, was figuring out the first few measures of “Piano Man” for himself.

It’s become a household phenomenon, this song. Now Girl is playing it on her clarinet. However, Byron took her aside and firmly forbade any more of that nonsense, telling her the song is called “Piano Man,” so she, a girl on a clarinet, violates its essence and intent every time she plays it. She will be grounded and cut off from allowance if she ever attempts playing it again.

2) We had a house full of visitors this last weekend; my cousins stayed with us when the extended family converged to celebrate my aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary. On Sunday morning, the seventeen-year-old cousin who’d slept in the living room on the chaise longue came to her parents and Byron, bright-eyed and grinning. “You have to hear this!” she exclaimed. Turns out she’d been eavesdropping on Paco and his nine-year-old cousin, E, as they streamed some robot-based show off Netflix and engaged in the intersecting monologues that constitute boy talk, and this is what she overheard:

Paco: “I’ve already seen this episode since I’ve been watching this show for a long time, like, for ten thousand years.”

E-Cousin: “You weren’t even alive ten thousand years ago.”

Paco: “It’s hyperbole, E-Cousin. Hyperbole.”

3) Although Byron and I vowed to protest Valentine’s Day by going on love strike for the day, he did delight me when he left me a drawing on the kitchen counter. See, the day before, one of my Facebook friends in Turkey had posted a picture that enchanted me. Seems restorers of the Sehzadebasi Mosque in Istanbul were having some difficulties until they discovered a letter that Sinan the Architect had left buried in one of the walls explaining how he created the mosque.

Immediately upon seeing the picture, I asserted that I want to find a copy of it, bigger, and print and frame it. However, there doesn’t seem to be a larger copy available online. Dang.

Byron assuaged my disappointment by leaving me this on the kitchen counter:

Turns out remodelers at the neighborhood hardware store coincidentally found design plans in the wall just behind pipe wrenches.


There you go. From “Piano Man” to hyperbole to lost architectural plans, I’m having a great February…although, admittedly, counting down the days until we can start some seeds out on the back porch and ready ourselves for gardening season.

In the interim, I’m going to work on mastering “We Didn’t Start the Fire” on piano. I might be able to cruise through March if Paco spends it singing

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray,

South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio,

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television

North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe,

Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom

Brando, ‘The King and I’ and ‘The Catcher in the Rye’




18 responses to “Delights”

  1. Kathryn Avatar

    I can tell you’re having a lovely time with the piano. I had one for a while, tinkled (or is it tickled – I don’t want you to think I peed on it) the ivories, and then gave it to a cousin to pay off a debt. Kind of regret it now…the giving away, I mean, not the tinkling.

  2. Lil Avatar

    Congrats on fun with the piano.

    As I have no pianos, hyperbole or architectural plans in my life, I am finding Feburary (and winter) interminable…


  3. Pearl Avatar

    You’re a freakin’ Upper Midwest jewel, Joce.

    And no. That’s not hyperbole.

    Rock on, girl.


  4. Secret Agent Woman Avatar

    I always liked that song. I think Billy Joel had a number of wonderful songs until he crossed over to the dark side by singing upbeat 50’s crap. Ugh.

  5. lime Avatar

    ok, can you please send paco my way? i have been trying to explain the concept of hyperbole to some adults who don’t seem to get it.

  6. Jenn @ Juggling Life Avatar

    I have always thought Billy Joel was underrated. I love New York State of Mind and Goodnight Saigon.

    Hearing your child say a really great word is magical.

  7. sweffing Avatar

    I don’t know about hyperbole, what about surrealistic? The only possible word for a post which manages to connect these images. Roll on Spring here too:)

  8. Monica Avatar

    You have a glorious February indeed, I can tell – as all the other months of the year ! You say you want my life – well I want yours! Can we do some hyperbole switching!!? I do speak Norwegian you know, so Byrons familie will certainly accept me in a jiffy… ;o)

  9. magpie Avatar

    Did he pronounce “hyperbole” right? Good word.

    And yes, mosque plans are way cool.

    (Piano Man = meh. I know, I know. Isn’t he from Long Island? I think I’m supposed to like him, but I don’t.)

  10. Murr Brewster Avatar

    Well, that’s motherly love for you. I think listening to Piano Man would be a test. It’s so…fraught. But I remember beginning to pick out the G maj fugue from the Well-Tempered Clavier and my mom, who was the pleasantest woman on earth, running screaming out of the kitchen and snatching the music off the rack. Evidently I was only the fourth child to play that one, and she wasn’t going to stick around to see if I massacred it too.

  11. Choochoo Avatar

    I do love me some Billy, but Piano Man was never my favorite, either.

  12. Mother Theresa Avatar

    That’s a very good strategy to get Girl to practice all the more…just tell a kid they “can’t” do something, and they’ll do everything they can to prove you wrong. 😉 I love the plan of the mosque, and I think it would look great in a frame. Can’t you have it enlarged somewhere?

  13. Green Girl in Wisconsin Avatar

    Two singers who always make me sing along: Billy Joel and Neil Diamond.
    Glad you got the mosque print, it’s the coolest thing I’ve seen since Downton Abbey. (hyperbole)

  14. Jess Avatar

    That’s so funny, because just recently Todd and I heard “We Didn’t Start the Fire” on the radio recently and had a conversation like this-

    Me: I love this song! I was in high school when it came out.

    Todd: I was six.

    Me: Shut up.

    Also, I recently got the song “My Life” stuck in my head (I don’t know how) and felt compelled to make up a little ditty based on the melody and actual biographical fact that went like this:

    “I don’t care what you say anymore this is my life. I can sleep with the babysitTER if I want! Doot doo doo dooo.”

    I sang it to Todd but he seemed unimpressed by either that or the fact that I once dated a guy who used to date a girl who used to babysit for Billy Joel. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t the one he was sleeping with.

  15. Bone Avatar

    Love “Piano Man.” “As a smile ran away from his face” and “when I wore a younger man’s clothes” are two lines I always wish I’d written.

    And I always thought “We Didn’t Start The Fire” would’ve made a fun little history class project.

  16. chlost Avatar

    Your support of the kids’ musical talents made me remember being forced to practice the trombone in the basement. “I didn’t choose the trombone….it was dad’s!”

    Also, my sister and my daughter-both operatic training-both in agreement with your father. I remember my sister gave voice lessons to singers who had already damaged their voices. She never understood how or why a singer would use their voice in a way which would do such damage to their most precious asset.

  17. Deborah Avatar

    Sitting here in my adult-quiet house and reading about your February, I feel a little bereft. For us it was In The Mood and The Entertainer – and I never thought I’d miss that. Well, it does still happen now and again, I admit, when a kid comes by and flips open the piano to bash out something from the old days.
    We Didn’t Start The Fire is one of my faves – when you’ve got that down pat how about a little vlog, hmm??
    And I love the back-and-forth between you and your Byron. It would take quite a guy to keep up with you and it seems he’s more than capable.

  18. Meg Avatar

    Time for Girl to master “Just the Way You Are” on the clarinet. Now that’d be pretty.

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