Palouse by vwl


Chapter 4




Another Boy, Another Place – Fall 1986






            A now 11-year-old David Stirling sat outside the Spokane music studio in his father’s Jeep Cherokee while his parents talked to his cello teacher. On the seat next to him was a musical instrument that was half as big as he was. It had been two years since he had started on the cello, and his parents had asked to confer with his instructor, Ivan Raminski. The Navajo decal that he had stuck on the outside of the instrument’s case was getting a bit shabby from wear, but he had left it on because it reminded him of his family’s trip to the Navajo reservation and the half-Navajo friend he had met on the airplane back.




            David Stirling, Sr., sat next to his wife, Elizabeth, on the loveseat across the den from Mr. Raminski. David, Sr., looked the epitome of the lean, handsome, well-dressed, highly competent attorney that he was. His wife was dressed in a gray-tweed pants suit, her auburn hair cut to shoulder length. David, Jr., obviously had inherited her hair color.




            “Our son has been taking lessons from you for a couple of years now,” David’s father said. “We need a candid progress report from you without David present. We know David’s been diligent in his practicing, and to our untrained ears, what he’s doing sounds fine. But we don’t want him to be disappointed if he doesn’t have enough talent to go much farther with his training. We have a strong reason to ask for a frank assessment, which we’ll tell you about in a moment.” 




            Mr. Raminski smiled warmly at his visitors. “Let me assure you, first, that David is quite talented – and dedicated. He’s not a Yo Yo Ma, but there aren’t many cellists who are. However, he has talent and a good work ethic; he plays exceptionally well for his age. You have nothing to worry about in encouraging him to continue playing.”




            “The reason we’re asking,” Elizabeth said, picking up where her husband had left off, “is that we’ve been asked to join the board of the Spokane Youth Symphony.”




            “I know.” Mr. Raminski smiled. “I recommended you.”




            “Oh. Then, you must feel that David is good enough to play for them.”




            “I do.”




            “Whew,” Elizabeth sighed. “It makes it much easier to be on the board if our son is playing in the orchestra – legitimately – as you can imagine. But we didn’t want to have our son chosen for the orchestra just because his parents were on the board.”




            “I assure you. David has the talent to be in the Youth Symphony. Rest easy, and go tend to your son.”




            David, Sr., and Elizabeth smiled at each other and linked arms as they walked down the sidewalk to the car.