May 8, 2011

Miss Jessup, my alluring piano teacher

Miss Jessup's hair on Molly Sugden.
In my early teens, I took piano lessons. There was a storefront, fly-by-night "music school" a few doors down from the luncheonette my stepfather owned, and that's where I went to learn how to play the piano. I went weekly and enjoyed the heck out of it -- but I never learned a thing about music. I was too distracted.

The object of my attention was my teacher, an amazing woman named Miss Jessup. That's a photo of Mrs. Slocombe on the left, Molly Sugden's character from "Are You Being Served". Mind you, Miss Jessup was no Mrs. Slocombe. She was a hot mamma of the first order. I only want to point to Molly's hair -- paint it white-blonde and you've got Miss Jessup's hair. Well, if you pooch it up a bit higher, you do.

Miss Jessup was in her 20s and was attractive in the way starlets are attractive: noticeably, and as the result of much effort. She dressed like a starlet too. She had a big bust like Mae West, what appeared to be an 18-inch waist and wore skintight dresses every day. She was like a blonde Betty Boop. Her hair was, as I've said, higher than Mrs. Slocombe's and bleached almost white. She wore it arranged in ringlets that towered over her head, and the whole thing was lacquered into place. You would not see a hair move on Miss Jessup's head. There was never any doubt about this.

She wore very high heels, and rightly so. She must have been about 5 feet tall, if that. And she existed within a ball of perfume. I was too young to know what scent it was, but it was there. You couldn't possibly miss it.

She'd take me into her tiny piano room, a little closet, actually, with a white stand-up piano against the far wall, and we would go over my lesson. I didn't play well, had no talent at all, in fact. But I could read music and could brute-practice my way into being able to play a tune -- much to the horror of those who had to listen for months as I learned it.

She would ask me to play the lesson she'd assigned me, and after I did, she'd show me how to play it correctly. That was the Miss Jessup Moment. I would sit close by her right side, breathing in her cloud of perfume as I marveled at her white-painted nails, clicking madly over the keys. Miss Jessup's nails provided her own percussion as she played.

That's all I remember from our lessons: the Miss Jessup Moments when I would float in a ball of her perfume, staring at her make-up and nails and hair and clothes, and pay absolutely no attention to the music. I never learned a thing from Miss Jessup but I enjoyed my lessons thoroughly. I wonder if she's still out there.

Yoo hoo, Miss Jessup! Are you still among us? And more importantly, do you still dress like you live in a movie?


Artichoke Annie said...

That would be funny if Miss Jessup was still around and saw this and commented. I would fall off my piano stool.

I'm watching a bit of the Red Sox game, Cubs off tonight, then maybe I'll dig up a worthwhile movie.

writenow said...

Miss Jessup at 73. I guess that's what she would be today. I cannot imagine this. Enjoy your game!