It was when I was about 17. My aunt and uncle were visiting from Ohio. This was the trip where they rented a minivan so the five of us could all travel in one vehicle. The glove compartment had a three digit combination lock on it (by which I mean a permutation lock) and I spent the week trying to guess the code. After some days of this, I said “right ha ha I’ll try this” and scrolled in 666. It opened. Ha ha ha! True story. This minivan also came with a cassette of Achtung! Baby in the tape deck, which some previous renters had left behind and to which I gave a loving home.
So one day we drove up to Spokane to visit St. John the Evangelist, which is, for out west, a pretty swank cathedral. We were nosing around, and my aunt said to one of the vergers, “Oh you have a pipe organ! My niece plays the piano” and before I knew it, I found myself sitting on the organ stool. “Play something!” they encouraged.
Now, I had taken a few years of piano lessons when I was younger, but I’d never built a repertoire, and I certainly couldn’t remember anything. But pause to consider the situation laid out before me: I’m seventeen. I’m sitting in front of a beautiful keyboard. The keyboard of a pipe organ. In a big, vaulted building. In a church! What an opportunity.
So off I go, with gusto:
I made it through one pass of the next section before the verger made me stop.
We weren’t thrown out, but I did get quite a telling off. I can’t remember now the particulars of what was said. Something something “inappropriate”, something something “disrespectful”, I don’t know. He was pretty angry.
In hindsight, I wish I’d been able to Michigan J. Frog it with a solid round of Hello! Ma Baby. But hey, that’s the nature of impromptu situations. You have to work with what you’ve got at the time.