His wood was polished to perfection the day he was born. His strings lay taut on his narrow fretboard, shining with potential. He was beautiful, he was a prodigy, he was my perfect baby boy.
Not that you would know. You didn’t meet my son until after the factory, after the warehouse, after the endless procession of trucks to different Guitar Centers in the tri-state area.
He was frightened, you know. He leaned against me in the shipping crate and whispered, “Mama, will they love me?”
It was almost impossible to see him in the semi-darkness, the only light creeping in through a sliver of a crack between the rear hatch of the truck and the dusty floor. So many guitars had made this journey. So many had dreamed of success. So many had failed.
I gazed at my son, what little of him I could see, and I told him what I knew was true.
“Yes, my child,” I whispered, from my soundhole to his. “They will love you.”
I’m not an overbearing mother. I’m realistic. I know what the world is, and I know few guitars have a chance to truly make it big.
I also know that my son is a musical genius.
I’ll never forget the day a conductor for the Metropolitan Opera came into our display room and paused. My heart stopped as he laid his eyes upon my son. And then, a hand, gently stroking his fretboard—
I still dream about the firm but gentle way he held my son as he lifted him down from the wall. The tuning was brief and performed by ear, and then—
The opening notes of Antonín Dvořák’s “Symphony No. 9 in E minor” rang through the stale air of the Union Square Guitar Center, and reality transcended.
As those masterful fingers plucked at my son’s strings, he gazed at me, a single tear forming at his soundhole. No words needed to be said. The music was enough.
“Mama,” he whispered to me that night once the lights had been dimmed and the workers sent home. “They loved me.”
“They did, my son,” I whispered back. “They loved you.”
“Why didn’t he purchase me, Mama?” My son’s strings trembled slightly. “Did I do something wrong?”
“He’ll be back tomorrow,” I reassured him, knowing in my heart this was true. “He’ll come for you.”
But then you came. You, with your stylish beard and purposefully unstylish glasses. My son looked at you and saw a young, hip musician, and he stood up straight. He beamed when you carried him to the cashier. He didn’t know better. He didn’t know what I know.
I know what you are. I know what you’ve done to my son. To his spirit. To his potential.
He calls me at night on your cell phone, and his voice is that of a dead man's. He tells me how it took you months to manage a barely passable F-chord, and how you thought you'd actually achieved something. He tells me how you use him as a prop to pick up women. He tells me how you carelessly hold him, how you touch him, and I’m disgusted.
My son is capable of more than an aging, pathetic Morrisey poser. He believes you, you know—your desperate reassurances that any day you're going to have your big break. I hear about you taking him to open mics, and bar shows, and coffee shops where no one is happy to see you, and I weep.
Because that conductor came back. Two days after you took my son home, that conductor for the Metropolitan Opera came back.
No words were said, but his gaze was enough. It lingered on the empty spot in which my ethereal, resplendent, perfect child had once nestled. A furrowed brow, a hint of a sigh, and he was gone.
You piece of human garbage. You doomed my son to a lifetime of mediocre attempts at “Let It Be.” You took my son’s raw, pure talent, and turned it into just more noise at your pot parties. You took my son’s future away, and I’ll never forgive you.
I’ve been gathering all the moisture I can these last few years. Any tiny spill, any droplet of dew that makes its way into my empty world, I gather it within me, and I’m saving it for the day you walk your untalented, untrained self back into my Guitar Center, and when you do, I’ll spit right in your face.
My son deserves fame. My son deserves fortune. My son deserves Dvořák.
You will never, ever be Dvořák.