Sherman Pitluck, meanwhile, got in touch to say that he was ready to sign me up with his management and had already created a flyer with his favorite quotes from the European reviews. I could hardly believe it. Nine years after the polio attack, I was a “pro” at last!
There was one problem, however: I had never told Sherman the story of my illness and years-long struggle to recover. I felt it should be done in person, and scheduled a trip to New York, explaining that I wanted to get together and talk about the future. We had a relaxed and positive discussion over dinner and some wine, and once we were nearing the end of our meal, I leaned forward and said, “Sherman, there is something I need to tell you.” My serious tone clearly alerted him. “I don’t want you to tell anyone,” I continued, “except perhaps Mark Bichurin, but you’d have to tell him to keep it to himself.” He nodded in consent.
Then I launched into the story of my polio attack and recovery years, complete with the true state of my neuromuscular condition. I knew it would be shocking and wanted to make sure he was aware of my disability before we signed a contract. I thought he might be wary or possibly concerned about my physical limitations in terms of carrying out further tours. If this worried him, I also wanted to give him a chance to back out of our contract.
But Sherman’s first response was not what I expected. “People should know about this!” he exclaimed. “There is no reason to keep it a secret!” I told him my fear that anyone who knew might suddenly notice some of my work-arounds and think of me as less of a pianist. Presenters might worry about my reliability.
But Sherman was on a roll of excitement. “What an inspiring story!” he kept saying. “I can’t wait to tell (so-and-so) about it!” Every time he thought of someone else in the business who “should know,” he would get excited all over again.