Thursday, June 21, 2007

Trombone Trouble

Imagine that you're in line at the bank one day and a couple of people start making chit-chat with you.

It's a slow moving line, so in the course of exchanging banalities you cover a wide range of topics, e.g. the weather, kids today, the price of gas, pets, et cetera.

One thing leads to another and one of the chatterboxes asks, "If you could be any animal, which one would it be?"

"Oh, a horse, I guess," you answer.

"Ah, a horse," replies motor-mouth number two. "But if you couldn't be a horse, what would your second choice be?"

"Second choice?" you think to yourself. "Making a first choice wasn't stupid enough for these people?"

"Oh, I don't know," you reply after some deliberation. "A dolphin, I guess."

"A dolphin!" your new friends exclaim. "Yes! Excellent! Well the line's moving. It's been nice talking with you. Maybe our paths will cross again!"

"Not if I can help it," you reply under your breath while waving and smiling weakly.

Six months later, you're walking down the street, minding your own business, when a van pulls over and two hooded people emerge. You feel the dull thud of a lead pipe on the base of your skull and then all goes black as you are being dragged into the the van.

Several days later you awake, unsure of what has happened. As your eyes regain their focus you discover, to your horror, that your arms and legs have been amputated, a blow-hole has been drilled into your back and you're floating in a tank of water.

"What the..." you gasp, in between mouthfuls of salty water.

Looking up, you see the two people you vaguely remember from the conversation in the bank line glowering down at you from the rim of the enclosure.

"Well, you said you wanted to be a dolphin! Mwaaah Haaah Haaah!" The cry, in fiendish glee.

Now, afore ye conclude that I've just discovered the joys of smoking bowling-ball-sized rocks of crack, let me explain my little allegory.

Back in 1967, there was an assembly held in the "gymeteria" at Longfellow Elementary School which yours truly was compelled to attend.

The school's music teacher was there to give us third graders some sort of, I don't know, music test.

Without telling us the title, she played "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" on the piano and asked us to write down the name of the song.

She hit the lowest note on the piano keyboard and then the highest note on the keyboard. "Which one was higher, number one or number two?" she asked. We dutifully wrote down the answer.

Little did I realize the sinister turn this inquisition was about to take...

"If you could play any instrument in the orchestra, what would it be?" she asked, oh so nonchalantly.

"Huh. Well my Dad's a major Maynard Ferguson fan, so I'll write down 'trumpet,'" I reasoned.

"Now, what would your second choice be? Write that down as well," cooed the music instructor.

"Well, I guess a trombone is kinda like a trumpet," I reasoned, " so I'll put that down."

"Thank you, children. You may now hand in your answers and your teachers will take you back to your class rooms."


Well, time rolled along, idiotic music test or no idiotic music test. September of 1967 found me in Mrs. Lyng's fourth grade class at Washington Elementary School.

One day, early in the school year the intercom phone rang in the classroom. Frau Lynginheimer picked up the hand set and had a brief, hush conversation while the class read their Social Studies books.

"Craig," she rasped. "You're go go see Mrs. Hall in room 104."

"Who is Mrs. Hall and why does she want to see me?" I wondered as I trudged through the institutional-green hallway.

My knock on room 104's door was met with a chipper, "Come In!" so in I went.

"You must be Craig. I'm Mrs. Hall and I'm going to be your music teacher," a pleasingly young woman chirped.

Looking around, I noticed that room 104 is very large and it is full of musical instruments.

"Well, it says here that you want to play the trombone..."

Sing with me now:
They call him Flipper,
Lives in a world full of wonder.
Lying there under,
Under the sea!

To be continued...



Blogger whimsical brainpan said...

I'm guessing that they had a lot of trumpet players already.

We had something sort of like that at my elementary school. This guy went around and told us what instrument he thought we should play. When he told me that I should play the tuba I lost whatever interest I might of had in joining the band right there.

June 21, 2007 5:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

So did they beat you on the head to force you to play the trombone? That's just terrible. Terrible, I say.

So are you now an expert trombone player?

June 22, 2007 1:06 AM  
Blogger furiousBall said...

I had the same predicament, except I got the emasculating valve trombone. So I didn't ever get the gratification of sliding anything. I later moved to marimba and felt like a rock star...with a stupid Q tip hat on a football field

June 22, 2007 10:34 AM  
Blogger Allan said...

"Sometimes they speak in whispers
'He's a different sort of man'
Sometimes they call him Flipper
because he has no hands
His tongue is hooked to pulleys
He's got wheels instead of feet
Don't ask me how he steers his cart
Just pray before you peek"
-some song that this intriguing post reminds me of

Trombone is French for paperclip.


June 22, 2007 2:46 PM  
Blogger Bardouble29 said...

Love getting something shoved at you that you don't really know what you are asking for...

June 22, 2007 5:03 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

So... you eventually played TROMBONE in a folk-rock band in Buffalo??

June 22, 2007 8:07 PM  
Blogger Craig D said...

whim: Tuba, you say? Wow, they didn't even have tubas available in the 4th grade, otherwise I'm sure I, too, would've been so tagged.

dorky dad: Far from "expert" as I will detail later on in my self-absorbed saga!

furiousball: Valve trombone is 'way cooler than slide trombone. The Q-Tip hat sounds very familiar...

allan: Strangely enough, "glockenspiel" is French for "thumb tack!"

bardouble29: Some are born to greatness and others just have it thrust upon them!

wiz: Believe it or not, there was a strong anti-trombone bias rampant in the folk set back in the 'sixties! (Good to see you 'round these parts! Hope your back is feeling better.)

June 22, 2007 9:35 PM  
Blogger Lester Hunt said...

Craig, Gee, this is quite a coincidence. That is exactly how I became a philosophy professor. "Oh, a philosopher," I said, just to get them to shut up. Little did I know!

June 23, 2007 1:50 AM  
Blogger David said...

That intro was surreal. I joined marching band in high school because some cute girls at church told me they need a cymbals player and that there was no one willing to march cymbals. So I joined the band. I ended up marching cymbals and bass drum. I had the time of my life! It sounds like you got suckered into the trombone. I've got no problems with getting seduced into the cymbals!

June 23, 2007 10:59 AM  
Blogger Charlotta-love said...

I hate those "what animal would you be" questions. Um...I prefer having opposable thumbs. Not a hoof, a fin, a claw, a wing, or a paw. Or a tail. Thank you very much.

June 23, 2007 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, this seems to be a standard modus operandi for sneaky grade school music teachers. Craig, I actually ended up with your trumpet -with all of the musical subtlety of a sledge hammer on an anvil. (I'm no fan of Harry James) ... and it was to be my first introduction to saliva valves and well-worn and scratched up silvery mouthpieces. I would have been better suited to take the B flat clarinet but nobody took ten minutes to investigate my tastes in music. As I remember it, the music teacher from the Junior High School was brought in to survey our class for a total of about 12 minutes (He must have had some lunch plans!) No prior warning of his visit either -just a panicky ten second decision process when my name was called. For some reason that I can't remember, I must have blurted out "trumpet" and my musical fate was sealed for the following four years ...

Had I known, I would have HAPPILY given you my stinky smelling trumpet -with its dented bell and war-torn case ... Ugh, how I hate the trumpet! Artie Shaw would never have picked one up, I imagine.

June 24, 2007 2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


June 24, 2007 3:05 PM  
Blogger Gale said...

My dad was single and raised me the same way...childhood is so cruel. I was brought before an assembly of children to be taught how to sit like a lady. Evidently you could see my granny panties. Such a slut.

June 25, 2007 8:07 AM  
Blogger Craig D said...

lester: Huh! I thought to become a philosopher you just woke up one day as a giant cockroach. Live 'n' learn.

david: Cymbals & cheeleaders. Now, that's the way to do it!

charlotta: Hmmm... Yes, thumbs are good.

ianhouse: So that's how they do it in Canada! I'm kind of surprised at you vehement anti-trumpet stance, though. What do you think of cornets?

scott: I think that was "Merlin" in the "Sword In The Stone" rather than "Melvin!" I don't want to give too much away, here...

gale: Yes, you must keep your legs together! Oh, and the girls in the orchestra were forbidden to wear fish net stockings, as I recall.

June 25, 2007 11:11 AM  
Blogger CS said...

I got stuck with trumpet the very same way, only it was more like my fifth choice. Later I was able to switch to the French horn I wanted to play. Time marches on, and now my youngest son is about to switch from French horn to trombone.

June 25, 2007 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



June 25, 2007 2:50 PM  
Blogger Craig D said...

schtinky: Huh - my other blog should be set up the same way as this one. Choose the "other" option and have at it. Are you getting a specific error message, or what?

"Here - here's one that didn't break!"

June 25, 2007 3:33 PM  
Blogger Lester Hunt said...

"I thought to become a philosopher you just woke up one day as a giant cockroach."

No, that's how I became a blogger.

June 25, 2007 7:12 PM  
Blogger Craig D said...

lester: Oh, you too?

June 25, 2007 10:02 PM  
Blogger Beth said...


Philip Sheridan Elementary School (had to go there even though I lived *in* Kenmore)... forced to play the clarinet in the third grade.

I think I lasted a year.

July 10, 2007 10:41 PM  

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