Auld Lang Syne

Our boy walked around the house everyday playing his accordion. It wasn’t that he played badly, or improperly, it was merely an annoyance and would leave my wife with headaches at the end of the day. If you’ve heard the sound an accordion makes, you understand; it’s like a penguin being pushed through a meat grinder.

The accordion was found in our garage when we moved in three years ago. It was an old Bunvicini. The back of the accordion read, “Made in Italy,” the front had an embossing that read, “Denver, Colo.” We were never really sure where it was actually from and never really bothered to figure it out. There was a gold sticker on the top with the number 309 written in red marker, a sign that perhaps this had once had a residence in a school.

We began to punish the boy because he refused to stop playing outside of his allotted practice hour. We would send him to his room, refuse him dessert or deny him television because that is how parents discipline their children these days. Once I had him locked in his room for an entire day, denied him food and television, but he would still run out and play. School was about to start, his first year, and my wife wouldn’t allow for me to lock him in his room any longer. So I started removing a key off of the accordion each time he played it. I would grab my pliers and rip it off the left hand side, leaving nothing but a blank wood plank. I would crush the ivory keys and make sure the boy was there to watch. But the boy continued to play.

We began to call him “Autonomy.”

After I’d removed the 23 natural keys the boy would just play the sharps and flats. The music became off key, but the boy didn’t seem to mind. I began to pluck out each of the 16 black keys until the boy was left with nothing except the chords and bass notes on the right. But the boy continued to play.

He would play until the wee hours of the night. He would move his left hand across the wooden paneling that remained and close his eyes, as if trying to remember the sound the keys made. He would hit the bass keys, even though they no longer made noise and stretch his arms widely, as far as the squeezebox would let him. He’d close them quickly; the box would make nothing but a slight wheezing sound.

I came home from work one afternoon and my wife was crying. The boy refused to go to school that day. When I walked up to his room I found that he had completely dismantled the accordion with a hatchet. Pieces were laying everywhere, bits of the metal and plastic casing were scattered across his bed. The leather arm straps were wrapped tightly around the boys’ arms and back, tiny pieces of the accordion still remained attached to the leather tips. The boy looked up at me and smiled and continued to play. His right and left arms miming the motions that would be made had he actually had his accordion, his eyes and mouth were closed as he hummed Auld Lang Syne out of tune.

The next day I stopped at the music store by our house and bought the boy a new accordion. I decided that it was okay for the accordion to be played in our house; furthermore, I determined it was okay to have played the accordion in the past. I learned to sit with the boy as he played. When he was finished for the night we would go climb the mountain behind our house and roll rocks into trees, cracking them in half. Sometimes the rocks would roll all the way to our house and slam into the siding with a heavy shout.