Edward Kelsey Moore THE SUPREMES SING THE HAPPY HEARTACHE BLUES
Clarice Baker, one of the Plainview, Indiana Supremes, speaks of marriage and music.
Earlier today a reporter asked me why, with all the great piano music to choose from, I had become a Beethoven specialist. I told her it was because Beethoven had been my children’s favorite music when they were young.
At nap time, I would gather my kids and have them sit cross-legged around the piano. I’d grab their attention with something raucous and full of surprises like the opening of the “Appassionata” Sonata. Then I’d dial down the intensity with snippets of mellower and mellower Beethoven. By the time I’d get to “Für Elise,” you’d have thought I’d chloroformed them. But the next day they would beg for more of the same.
“Beethoven speaks to children.” I told the reporter, “No one will ever convince me otherwise.”
That story about my children was true, but I’d actually become devoted to Beethoven before the kids came along.
I was seven months pregnant with our first. My husband, Richmond, had left for work two days earlier and had yet to return. As always, he was polite enough to call both days and lie about why he wouldn’t be home. I returned his courtesy by pretending to believe him.
It was my habit to pace the floors when Richmond was gone. During one of my passes near the living room window, I stumbled over a piece of baseboard that had come loose. That was a chore Richmond had been promising to take care of for weeks.
Cursing my husband like no good Baptist woman should, I got a hammer and some tacks from the pantry to fix the baseboard myself. I was on my knees, pounding in the first tack when it came to me that the hammer could take care of another problem. I had a vision of Richmond’s handsome, lying face and his cheating grin. I saw that smile fading away as he caught sight of the hammer, clutched in my two fists for maximum impact, arching toward his head.
I started to grin.
Then I heard his car in the driveway. As was his post-adultery habit, he headed straight to the shower instead of coming to see me. While he showered, I hummed a tune and passed the hammer back and forth between my palms, weighing my options. I chose to go to the piano and attack the tune I’d been humming, Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata. By the time Richmond walked into the room, I was nearly finished. After the last chord, he sat next to me on the bench, kissed my forehead and said, “I’m the luckiest man in the world.”
Decades later, I sat on that same piano bench and told a reporter only part of the story about Beethoven and me. I didn’t tell her that I love Beethoven because Beethoven saved my husband’s life. No one will ever convince me otherwise.