Life, Living and Loving: Mrs. Fever’s September Song Project 2022: “Moon River”

03 Sep

My girlfriend’s father was an imposing man. Shorter than I was but built tough from years working at a local company and messing with concrete. His hands looked like he had hams attached to them and every time he said something to me, like, “Boy, don’t you have a home to go to?” my flight-or-fight instincts would try to kick in.

He clearly didn’t like me seeing (or screwing) his daughter. He wasn’t shy about telling me about it, either. She had told me that her father had chased off all other guys who were trying to get with her and that was fine, but we truly loved each other, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop us from being together… but this man scared the shit out of me. Her mom was openly hostile toward me from the moment I met her but she didn’t bother me all that much because she wasn’t always telling me that she was going to punch me in the face.

One day, I showed up at her house so she could take my braids out and redo them. I spoke to her mom, who gave me yet another evil eye and overhead, I could hear her dad leaving his bedroom and heading for the stairs and when he reminded me that I didn’t live there – and I said that I’d just arrived – he balled his fists up and I thought, “This is it – I’m gonna have to fight him to keep my woman!”

But he sat down in his favorite chair which had the misfortune of being right next to the piano bench I was sitting on while my love was messing with my hair. He’s grumbling and cutting his eyes at me then says, “I hear you can play that goddamned thing…” pointing to the piano.

“Yes, sir, I can,” I said, wondering what this was about.

“I’ll tell you what,” he said with a sly grin on his face that made me want to pee on myself, “If you can play “Moon River” on that motherfucker, I’ll allow you to keep seeing my daughter.”

Here’s the musical problem I’ve always had to deal with: People thinking that because I’m a musician, I can play any instrument and any song that was ever written and regardless to whether or not I’ve ever heard the song, knew who performed it, stuff like that. True enough, at the time, I could play four instruments (and in the order I learned them): Organ, trumpet, piano, drums. Indeed, I had met my soon-to-be girlfriend at church and before a choir rehearsal having been invited by my best friend. I was at the organ and playing my rendition of “Over the Rainbow” and she came over and started talking to me and, well, it was love at first sight for us which led to this moment where I have a few seconds to think about two things:

Do I remember the song… and could I really play it? I’d heard it before and several times, but it was one of those songs that you hear and you… just hear it. I knew my father’s father loved the song and apparently my girlfriend’s father liked it, too.

“Well? What the fuck are you waiting for?” he asked, his voice becoming even more menacing. “Get to tinkling the ivory or get the hell out of my house and never come back!”

Shit. The only thing I had going for me was that I had played this piano a few times before despite it being in need of retuning. I’m racking my brain thinking about this fucking song and with her dad literally standing over me and breathing down my neck, I started playing. I glance up and over at her and she looks… worried. To this very day, I’m still not sure how I pulled that off but, again, that damned thing that has some people believing that if you hear a song, you can play it.

Which is true if you can remember ever hearing the damned song and I knew I hadn’t heard it in over a year. My hands are shaking and it was like I’d never laid my fingers on a keyboard before as I make my way through the song. It didn’t help when I heard him kinda whisper, “You’d better play it with feeling, too, you sumbitch!”

No pressure at all, right? In that moment, the song just… landed in my mind and I played like my life depended on it because it did; I loved her. I knew she was The One and we were already talking about having kids and getting married and knew we were… fated to be together. Being in that moment also reminded me to get some… revenge on my friend because he had admitted that he had set me up to get fixed up with her and I have never forgiven him for it, and I never will… but we laughed about it even though I have never meant something as much as I did this.

No, don’t ask.

I finish playing “Moon River.” The final notes and chords are fading away and I knew that this was now one of those defining moments of my life because if he didn’t like my performance, I had no idea how we were going to keep seeing each other and I was so frustrated that I wanted to cry while I awaited his verdict. Indeed, my girlfriend has tears running down her cheek and I turn to face her father, who is giving me his “death stare” and he’s clenching his hands.

“Not bad,” he finally says after staring at me for one hundred years. “Just as I remember it, too. You must’ve played this a lot of times, right?”

“No, sir – first time,” I said.

“Hmm. Okay, you can keep seeing her… but you’d better keep your motherfucking dick out of her or else!” he said with a growl… and a bit of a smile.

I asked to be excused and if I could use the bathroom… because I had never needed to go so bad as I did in this moment. As I’m running up the steps, I can hear him saying something to her and I hear her laughing at whatever he said to her and, no, I never found out what he had said.

Not long after we were married, we were visiting her parents. Her mom hated me even more because we’d already had a child together before we got married and it just got worse after we got married. Her dad and I got along fabulously after I finally stood up to him when he said he was going to kick my ass because I had knocked her up and I’ll say that I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking about when I got back in his face and pretty much cussed him out while professing my deep love for her and even told him that I was going to kick his old ass – and, yeah, I was fairly sure that I could, at the least, let him know he was in a fight – but I did that and he said, “Oh. Okay.” And we were cool ever since.

On this occasion, we’re talking football and how his Minnesota Viking “weren’t worth shit” when he stops talking, smiles, and says, “You know I was fucking with you that day, don’t you?”

For a moment, I had no idea what day he was talking about since there wasn’t a day in those early days of our relationship where he wasn’t fucking with me. “What day are you talking about, Dad?”

“Moon River,” he said. “I really didn’t care if you could play it or not, but I wanted – I needed – to see if you really loved her or you just loved fucking her.” Yeah, this dude was about as blunt as they came. “But you proved to me that you were willing to do something I knew you weren’t sure you could do because you did love her that much… and the pussy had to be that good, too.”

I was caught up between being a bit ticked off and being embarrassed about the “good pussy” thing (which was true but, still) and he sat in his favorite chair and told me about every time he tested my resolve and why he didn’t give me any shit the day I formally came to him and asked if I could marry his daughter; I had expected to fight for that and he tripped me out when he had just looked at me and said, “Sure. Go ahead. About goddamned time, too.”

“Play it for me one more time?” he asked.

I went to the piano which, by now, was very badly out of tune. The song came back to me, and I played it for him and with a lot of feeling. I kinda looked over my shoulder to see him sitting behind me with his eyes closed and kinda swaying to the music and was he smiling? As I played, her mom came into the room and I saw her roll her eyes at me and heard her mutter, “Damned heathen…” and, yeah, that’s yet another musical story I might share tomorrow.

I finish playing it and turn to him with my “how did I do” look. He nods, smiles even more and said, “Wasn’t that worth being able to keep getting in that pussy?”

Yeah. That man. I had gained so much respect for him even though he had gamed the shit out of me and made me prove that I really did love his daughter (and not just that good pussy). The day he died was a really dark day for me and to this very day, I can’t think about “Moon River” without thinking and remembering how me made me prove to him how much I loved his daughter.


Posted by on 3 September 2022 in Life, Living and Loving


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2 responses to “Life, Living and Loving: Mrs. Fever’s September Song Project 2022: “Moon River”

  1. Mrs Fever

    3 September 2022 at 23:08

    I cannot play by ear. I used to be a decent sight reader, but never by ear. So I’m impressed. And I totally get how other people just don’t understand that knowing how to play an instrument does NOT mean, “hearing a song once means you can play it.” As though reading a book once imbues you with the ability to recite it aloud word for word from memory. Grrr — !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • kdaddy23

      3 September 2022 at 23:12

      Being able to play by ear and memory served me well that day!



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