Show and Tell. Friday PM in Mrs. Quinn’s second grade class. It’s April and the warm breeze up from Lake Candlewood fans the childlike anticipation of twenty or so eager faces. They all want to be first. First to show a special individuality—not so much to share with great solemnity an achievement, but rather, exhibiting an awesome original talent or life experience. Sarah shows her doll collection. David plays "Fly Away" on the harmonica, and Jimmy displays his pet cockroach.

The list of responses winds down as Mrs. Quinn asks, "Anyone else?" and Albert raises his hand. He would like to play a piece on the piano.

"Fine," Mrs. Quinn says, and Albert walks through the rows of desks up to the big, brown upright and seats himself.

He begins. Ten fingers crash onto the keys. His right hand tinkles single notes down from high C to left hand thunder, then it seems every other note is struck near the middle. Albert leans into the chaos as if listening, fingers churning relentlessly up and down the keyboard, his whole small frame responding to the drama of his daring.

In a space of near silence, seizing the moment before another roar commences, Mrs. Quinn, standing by the piano, lifts her record book like a baton and Albert pauses, hands poised for another downward blitz on the keys.

Sensing its total impromptu expression, Mrs. Quinn comments gently.

"Albert, that’s quite awesome, but you must tell us the name of your piece and also who wrote it."

"Oh, I did," says Albert, and it’s called ‘Hot dawg’. I’ve already played up to where you put on the mustard." His fingers drop like confetti onto any notes they happen to hit, and he says, "And here comes the relish." He then lifts his hands high. "And now," he announces, hands poised, "is where I eat it," as his hands crash down on the keys.

The din fills the room. Albert rises from the bench, bows professionally to the clapping hands and appreciative faces.

Mrs. Quinn smiles and with a raised hand quiets the class and says, "We can learn two new words from Albert’s performance: imagination and spontaneity. Class, how many imagined a hot dog as he played? Raise your hands."

The hands went up affirmatively.

"And Albert," Mrs. Quinn notes, as she turns her attention to him. "Maybe someday, we’ll hear what you have to say about many things in a great symphony or opera!"

Albert, blushes with amazement, sensing what Mrs. Quinn, if not the class, already knew. "I made it up as I went along," he admits. "But it tasted good!"


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