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In my seat before a concert, chatting with a friend. A fellow in the seat in front of us turns around and says, to me, “You…you’re an organist, right?”

Odd question, that. No. The answer’s No. Can’t just say, “No,” though, sounds rude.… I’m married to an organist, I’ve stood next to many organ benches. Don’t be a wise guy…my eyebrows hover in that demilitarized zone between anticipation and awkwardness… must say something… “No, afraid not. I’m not an organist.” There, wasn’t so hard.

“No? But,” pointing his finger at the naughty boy who won’t fess up, “you’re on the radio, right? WRTI? I recognize your voice!”

Ah, a fan!…“Oh, yes.” Sit up. “Yes, I am.” Other people turn around. So this is what fame is like.

“I knew it!” He knew it. Yes. Glance at others, smile, make eye-contact. People like that. Give a friendly Ah What Can You Do, I’ve Been Found Out shrug.

“But you’re on Jill Pasternak’s show, that organ show!”

Smile freezes. “Peter Richard Conte.”


“Peter Richard Conte. He’s the organist with Jill. The Wanamaker Organ Show. It’s Jill Pasternak and Peter Richard Conte.” Look at floor for fallen crest.

Fellow’s wife leans in. “You’re Peter Richard Conte?”

“No, I’m…” Oh, don’t bother. ”No.” Smile is stuck.

Husband. “You’re not on that show with Jill?”

People start to turn away. “No.” Don’t explain. I haveI’m on another…” Stop. “It’s, um, it’s called the Fleisher… it’s with Jack Moore…” Oh, you sound great. Just terrific. “Discov…”

Wife. “But do you know Jill?”

Sigh. “…Yes.”

“We love her show.”

“Yes.” Be nice. “It’s a good show, isn’t it?”

Husband. “But I’ve heard you.” No you haven’t. “That’s a good show. You’re good.”

Okay, maybe. “Thank you.”

Wife. “So you do know Jill, though? Do you see her?”

“Well, sometimes I…”

“Tell her we came to this concert because of her. She interviewed some of the people and that made us want to hear it. Will you tell her?”

That’s her other show, and no, I won’t tell her. Oh, all right. “Yes, of course I will. I heard that interview.”

Husband. “But you’re good.” Smile, slightly less frozen.

He turns back in his seat. To wife, “He’s not the organist.”

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