My Father Plays Piano in a Whorehouse

by John Delach

I recently thought about this classic, silly and yet satisfyingly funny yarn:


Ms. Jones called on her third grade students individually to stand and tell what their mothers or fathers did for a living. Invariably, she came to little Johnny who stood and proudly proclaimed, “My father plays piano in a whorehouse!”


“What did you say!” gasped Ms. Jones.


Encouraged by what he took to be profound interests, Johnny repeated: “My father plays piano in a whorehouse!”


This led to a trip the office where Johnny repeated his bold statement to Ms Doyle, the principal. A suspension followed together with a letter to his parents requiring they provide an explanation in person before the suspension could be lifted.


Mr. and Mrs. Ford duly complied meeting with Ms. Jones and Ms Doyle. Mr. Ford apologized explaining that it wasn’t Johnny’s fault. “You see, he was only repeating what I told him each time he asked me where I worked.”


“Oh dear,” replied Principal Doyle. “Do you really play piano in a house of ill repute?”


“No, no, of course not, I only told Johnny that so he wouldn’t know I’m a lawyer.”


As Kurt Vonnegut once explained it: “We are who we pretend to be and that’s why we should be very careful who we pretend to be.”


Sometimes we don’t even realize who we are pretending to be especially when we ignore children’s presence when conversing with other adults. When my son, Michael was about to start first grade in a new school, Mary Ann told him that his big sister, Beth would show him the ropes. After his first day Mary Ann asked, “How was it?’


Michael replied, “All right, but I never saw the ropes.”


But the classic response happened when Michael was old enough to be part of our Port Washington version of little league, Diane, another boy’s mother picked up her son, Mark and Michael from baseball practice one afternoon. As Diane drove with the two boys in the back seat she witnessed the following exchange:


Mark: “Your father travels a lot, what does he do?”


Michael: “I don’t really know, but he goes to lots of places, tells people what to do and, when they do it, he comes home.”


If only it had been that simple!