Ever since he was a little boy, Thomas had a dream. One day he would learn to play the accordion. He would practice on trains, in buses, street corner cafes, until eventually he would play for the tourists at the Kinderdijk windmill farm. He knew that many people dreamed of becoming great creators: painters, sculptors, writers, roller coaster designers… but very few dreamed of practicing these arts and this, Thomas knew, made him quite different from all the other accordion dreaming boys.
Because he wanted to be a truly great accordion player, he learned all the latest Dutch folk songs, Zydeco tunes, and Polish dancing jigs. Since he could not wait to save enough money to buy an instrument, he learned to practice in his dreams: pushing his arms back and forth and bellowing out the words in the lowest register he could register while his nimble fingers tapped tapped tapped over the keys.
Thomas’ mother did not approve of his dream and thus she never bought him the accordion that he really, truly desired with all his heart.
“You should be a dentist,” she said. “Learn to extract a dozen molars while standing on your head–now that would impress all the girls.”
But Thomas, like many other young boys his age, did not listen to his mother. He packed his bags and set off on his own. He would buy his own accordion, any one would do: a Beccaresci, a second hand Fistalia, or even a run-down, beat up plastic sack of air and sticks if that was what he could afford. He meandered over the countryside, jumping trains and busking for change outside the street corner cafes in which he’d yearned to play. He skimped and he saved, tucking away all the loose euros and coins passed his way by such selfless, unwitting patrons.
Alas, even the cheapest, the lowest, the most beat up, unmusical accordion in the back-alley flea markets was beyond his grasp. But, because Thomas was a true dreamer, and not a fly-by-night, ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ dilettante, Thomas eventually made his way Kinderdijk where he spent each day watching the tourists and windmills. He may not have had the Yves Gaubert of his dreams, but sometimes, when one of the musicians set his instrument down for just a moment, Thomas inched as close as he dared to the black and white keys. In their looming shadow Thomas admitted to himself, very quietly, that perhaps he should have listened to his mother and gone to dental school instead.