Suitable Performance

photo prompt from Flashy Fiction


Carnegie Hall. How I got to this stage, still amazes me.

I was just like any other teenage boy. My interest was in girls, not piano lessons. I wanted to hang out behind the school, not within its walls. I wanted to stand out and be different, yet I wanted to blend in.

Mom and I had our battles – she let me dress in the “death clothes” as she described them (all black), as long as I continued piano lessons. I pushed the limits on skipping class, but always knew the important days to be there to not miss tests. Or movie days. Or field trips.

One particular day I will never forget – our class went to the zoo. We joined the crush of people making their way through the park. I wondered about the especially large crowd at one exhibit and the sparse, spread-out crowd around the next.

The larger crowd was oohing and ahhing over a single animal – the polar bear. It lumbered across the rocks and dove into the water. Children and adults were mesmerized watching this single bear.

The next exhibit was the penguins. I stood and watched them. Like the crowd in the zoo, they moved en masse. They all looked the same. Doing the same thing. Next to me, a little girl tugged at her mother’s sleeve and said, “They all look the same, Mommy. Can we go back to the polar bear?”

Standing in the wings, hearing my name being introduced and the ensuing applause, I chuckle at the irony of wearing a “penguin suit,” and marvel at the day my eyes were opened all those years ago.

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Written for the photo prompt at Flashy Fiction.



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