Magical, Musical, Maleficent Mayhem

Hello, Peakers.

It is I, my mother’s nefarious, cupcake-baking daughter.

I have returned.

I know you missed me.

Even better: this is one of three guest blogs I’ll be writing over the next couple of months to give you a taste of our glorious summer adventures. I’m also subbing cause she’s been kinda busy with her book that will probably put an end to all sugar.



Still not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but regardless, you should buy it immediately because the only college care packages she has sent me this year have been socks.


(Shout out to my grandmother for secretly mailing me my massive stuffed rhinoceros pillow named James Franco when my mother scoffed at my childishness.)


The first installment of this epic adventure collection involves satanic worship, children in cults and good old fashioned family time. And it all began when my mother made the fatal mistake of agreeing to play the piano accompaniment for my grandmother’s music recital.

For those of you who didn’t grow up in a classical music cult, allow me to enlighten you about the Suzuki Mafia, or, What My Grandmother Does When She’s Not Gardening.


She runs an illicit ring comprised of small children whose parents willingly give their time and money in exchange for pint-sized violins and children that can imitate chicken noises on a musical instrument.

These children are called “Twinklers,” owing to the omnipresent, haunting theme of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” that is repeatedly drummed into their heads. I believe it has hypnotic power, and that whenever its dulcet tones are imitated, the kindergarten sleeper agents are summoned to serve their evil overlord. In our story, their commanding officer is my grandmother, who goes only by the code name “Mrs. W.” Probably for tax evasion purposes.

These Twinklers are disseminated throughout their hometowns, and with their persistent chicken scratching, day in and day out, slowly work to break down the mental stability of those around them, converting them to the cult under the guise of “musical education.” And then, once every season, the ring coalesces in a local church to perform mass rituals and provide sacrificial offerings to Mrs. W and their parental network. Then, over brownies and fruit punch, they all discuss their progress on the front of world domination.

I know all this because I was once a Twinkler.

250715twinkler (2)


I was one of the agents so deeply ensnared that it took me forever to escape. My childhood was a blur of itchy dresses, tightly braided hair, group bows, (“look at your toes and count to three!”) and broken strings. These mass rituals or “recitals” form some of my earliest memories, and so revisiting the scene to watch my mother play piano accompaniment for the tiny, unarmed yet powerful sleeper agents was quite the nostalgic experience.

The day before, my mother and I met Mrs. W in her underground fallout shelter (basement of the Music Emporium) to assess the readiness of the troops. Five of them, pigtailed and confused-looking, stood with their imitation Stradivariuses crammed under their arms, waiting by the piano for Mrs. W’s cue. On her mark, my mother sounded the first four chords that triggered the little ones to play.

As five bows collided simultaneously with five strings with the spirit and determination of invading Huns, I felt the earth open up beneath my feet and the welcoming satanic embrace of the underground climb up my chair. The little army of violin robots played on, sawing out their homage to Bach, Beethoven and Voldemort. Watching them rehearse, I felt the ability for and disposition to independent thought slip away, leaving me with the sole desire of joining their ranks and offering dissonant screeches to the evil overlord.


The next day was showtime. Parents crowded the pews of the commandeered church, their faces worn with visible exhaustion from corralling their mind-warping musical maestros. My brother sat, skulking in the back, his face hidden by the flowers I forced him to bring, likely illegally streaming movies. My mother was attending to Mrs. W, addressing last minute crises like the fact that Tommy may have just stepped on Sara’s violin and now it doesn’t quite sound the same.

I sat in the front, readying my best snarkastic face to distract my mother while she attempted to accompany. I was prepared for a full, glorious 90 minutes of the audible equivalent of having teeth pulled. I watched as one of the tiny cult members took the stage, readied his violin and tried to reposition his knee-length tie. He tucked his violin under his neck, took a shaky breath, and with the bow hovering over the strings, hesitated for a moment. I saw his round puppy eyes glance at my mom, waiting for that magical, motherly look that is a combination of recognition, approval, and assurance.


She smiled and nodded, and, with renewed vigor and purpose, he plunged into a hearty rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Gently Down the Rivers of Blood of our Enemies and Stage Mother Tears.” No matter if he forgot a note, or a measure, or an entire half of the song, she would follow his musical diversions and remain a safe place to fall.

The rest of the recital was a whirl of Mrs. W’s recruits acting like adorable tiny humans and stepping on each other’s expensive horse-haired bows. Yet I remembered that quiet, singular moment of connection between a nervous little one and my mother. In my hectic tornado of lab work, laundry and cooking for myself, sometimes, those little reassurances that the accompaniment will always be there remain the strongest glue holding me together.


That and Mrs. W’s magic Kool-Aid.

~Chloe (an ex-Twinkler)


Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.



55 thoughts on “Magical, Musical, Maleficent Mayhem

  1. It’s for certain you are your Mother’s daughter with prose like the above. Well done! I had an Aunt who started Suzuki lessons in her 60’s. She used to play at recitals right alongside her knee high cohorts. I wish I could have seen it, must have been a hoot. Thanks for the fun post! x

    • That is awesome. Props to your hella cool Aunt.

      And thanks for the additional reassurance that I’m not adopted. I’ll relay it to my brother. 😛

      • there’s a line from the movie ‘volunteers’ where the dad-figure tells his son (played by TomHanks) “ever since that day we brought you home from the orphanage you’ve been a constant source of embarrassment” — and we still tell our kids that!

    • Thank you! I think all little ones are twinklers on some level. One does not necessarily need a violin to cause mafia mischief.

    • Thanks! The humor is definitely a survival mechanism born out of the twinkling days. How else can you remain sane when convincing a three year old to NOT wear violins as wooden slippers?

  2. You have your mothers wit and wisdom in spades Chloe! I chuckled out loud and was moved by the ending – all I desire and have come to expect in a ‘Peak’ blog was here. And I swear I could HEAR the cacophony!!

  3. Chloe, I don’t know whether to thank you for an excellent blog or thank your mother for conscripting you. Shelley, there’s no doubt whose daughter she is. Lovely sense of humour Chloe, I wonder where you inherited that from?
    xxx Mega Hugs both xxx

    • Probably the hound dog. He has instructed me in the intricacies of comedic timing and delivery and pushed me over the years with witty banter and jokes.

      Also Mom.

  4. Chloe, I loved reading this. Your style is so different but you have the same wicked sense of humour as your mom. Hope to meet you some day if ever you are in this part of the world 🙂

  5. Oh so funny! I love Sundays….. it dosen’t matter if it’s chucking it down with rain outside, PP posts always make my day. Chloe, you are a chip off the old block. Brilliant. Looking forward to more.

  6. Are you the daughter that went away to college to now return home and be put to work as a guest-blogger? How cool/nerve-wracking is that?

    Love “seeing” the similarity between your mother’s style and yours, but also very much enjoy the fact that you have your own world and your own much-younger points-of reference, etc. I think we’re going to enjoy the next three weeks (do hope your mother is paying you a good wage for carrying her blog burden for her… the very least some rogue sugar in the cupboard should be allowed!)

  7. My dearest MIT Little C,

    Thank God you have finally cracked the code and shared the Suzuki Mafia secret with the rest of the ill-informed world. I too share your pathological demented remembrances of being forced to partake of lessons, practice sessions, group recitals and solo or mass performances on many stages.

    Oh to ashade and remiss the wonderment of Suzuki camp. T’was as if it was only yesterday. That, and the recall of the bright light in my bedroom being turned on with less than a gentle stroke to wake me and tell me at 5 am it was my turn to practice piano for thirty minutes, shower, dress and be ready for the bus by 7:10 am. The only thing we missed was the banging of a stick on a tin garbage can. (I belive someone out there understands that connection). I digress.

    You are SUCH a creative writer, just as your mother, God bless. I look forward to your next blog, and respectfully, thank you for giving your mom a break to sleep, she needs it.

    P.s. Let me know when you’ve booked a seat to Mars. We need to make sure that Rob, Calvin and Hobbes are abord for the ride too. I won’t travel without them.

    Much love and remember, give the proff’s at MIT a break. They might be slow but within a few years you will be running the place. I’m sure of it.

    Stoshu 🙂

  8. Chloe, don’t tell your mom, but I think you are even funnier than she is! (Shhhh….) Thank you so much for bringing back all my torturous memories of piano recitals, which I now realize were a pale shadow of the violin horde. I congratulate myself on my escape.

    Looking forward to seeing your future posts!

  9. It’s so lovely to make your acquaintance Miss Chloe and must say it’s not hard to see (or tell) who your mother is. How lovely that she can pass the reins over to your obviously competent hands while she’s so busy. I can see I’m going to really enjoy your posts. (From the mum of an Aussie Twinkler.)


  10. She sent you a care package with nothing but SOCKS?! Did she add extra SOCKS so you could share them with your friends?
    PS: I adore the sugar cubes in danger of caramelization 🙂

    • JUST SOCKS! Not as popular a bartering item on the dorm marketplace. Ah well.

      And yes, Rob is a friggin comic genius. 😀

  11. At last I can comment! (new phone troubles, hey ho) I really like this post – so funny and such a clear way of telling the story, as other have said you are very clearly your mother’s daughter and have a ready wit and way with words! Is it just my imagination or has Rob outdone himself this week with the anonymous twinkler and Miniolin?
    I love it all in any case and I’m glad you’re giving your Mum what must surely be a well-needed break – keep up the good work! 🙂

    • I have suspected for a long time that Rob is secretly King of the Minions. The miniolin comic confirmed my worst fears. Run for your lives, they’re coming.

  12. Finally the mysterious screeching behind closed doors every Tuesday and Friday in our primary school’s “music” closet room has been explained. Perhaps you could use the plethora of socks to store sweets before they’re forever banned. Best of luck to your mother as she finishes her diatribe against sugar and good luck with your future lab/laundry tornado.

    • Oh trust me, I have a fallout shelter prepared and ready. Cadberry’s didn’t cut ties with US imports, it just found a higher bidding customer.

    • Nah man, are you kidding? She’s got this down to a science. I’ll keep hiding sugar in the cupcakes and she can keep a’bloggin.

  13. I have never personally experienced Twinklers (and have every wish to remain that way) however, I have heard (herd may be better) a 12 yr old doing battle with an over-sized (seemingly) accordion. The sound fell somewhere between a herd of Angus cattle attempting close harmony, a squealing pig, and a rampant bagpipe. Fortunately for us, and our immediate world, he never made it to a concert as he discovered 10 yr old girls were equally demanding but much more fun! Great Post Chloe. 🙂

    • Thank you! It’s easy to get carried away with my Suzuki-era vitriol, but at the end of the day, those kiddos are precious and musical.

    • Thank you! No English teacher ever called my writing “refreshing” before – more along the lines of “disturbing” and “annoyingly unpoetic.” Lol.

  14. Chloe, you’re a terrific writer. What fun to read your words in place of your mom’s as she launches Dear Opl. This piece is clever and fun and touching and would make any mother proud. I hope you’re enjoying the break from college and that you find yourself reinvigorated for year two. All the best. Alys

  15. My grandpa played the violin like the old Jack Benny with jokes and interruptions of his own making. My grandson plays the bass. He finished 4th grade and his string concert was funny and sounded rather good, too. I liked “Hot Cross Buns.”
    No Twinklers, probably. One never knows if they once were. . . 🙂 I am a new visitor but loved your socks care pkg and your rhino named James Franco, I am doing this on a cell phone, age 59. So “give me a break” if letters suddenly morph into unreadable text. Take care as you head back to your dorm, I have 2 grown daughter’s eho evryomrbsaysbthry are like me. I feel awfully bad for them and usually say they are 10 times more interesting, better looking or intelligent than I am 🙂

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