I have a terrible confession to make.
I play the flute.
I’ve copped to that a couple of times already in my other diary. But every time I do, including now, I feel the need to mea culpa.
I still don’t know what made me take up the flute in the first place. My dad, a concert accordionist (perhaps the only instrument more embarrassing for a male to play than the flute), insisted that each of his children start taking music lessons once they turned 9. So on my 9th birthday he handed me the list of instruments my school taught and said, “What’ll it be?” I looked over the list, said “Flute”, and handed it back. The next day he went out and bought me an Artley student model flute, and two weeks later I was belting out “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.
Why had I chosen flute? Why?
I suppose the actual answer is, “because I was 9”. When you’re 9 you don’t realize that one day your testicles will drop and girls will become more important to you than air, and appearing to be a badass motherfucker will be critical to your success with them. And that playing the flute will scuttle any chance you have of losing your virginity before…what day is today? In high school I sealed my fate by inexplicably opting to become a bandie. And as if that wasn’t humiliating enough, the band director chose me to play the piccolo. Why? Because – wait for it – my bottom lip was more plump than of any of the other (girl) flutists. Honest to god, that apparently was the determining factor. So I spent the next 4 years blowing into a tiny, tiny, phallic symbol in front of all my classmates at every school concert AND at every halftime show when we became the marching band during football season.
My best friend Dave, meanwhile, chose the guitar. In junior high he fronted a crappy garage band that played crappy Springsteen covers at crappy P.A.L. dances. He lost his virginity when he was 13. In a threesome. With two of my sisters.
So, yeah. I play the flute. And before you ask: I didn’t let NewWifey(tm) know until AFTER we were married. I knew she loved me, but…best not to take chances, y’know? Confessing my anal fixation was shock enough. I wasn’t gonna push it with something really unsavory.
Turns out I needent have worried, though. NewWifey(tm) had a shameful musical secret of her own she was hiding.
NewWifey(tm) plays the viola.
Not the violin. Not the cello. The thing in between. The thing people who aren’t good enough to play violin or cello but want to say “I play in an orchestra!” play. The life of a violist is: whole note…rest….whole note…rest…whole note….rest for 37 bars….rest 8 bars….whole note….rest…whole note…go home. If you own a viola you could be First Chair Violist of any symphony orchestra in the world even if you’ve never taken a lesson in your life. It’s that easy. You could have been born without arms. Doesn’t matter. You own a viola, you’re in. Sit down and get your ticket out, ’cause here comes the conductor.
So when after we got back from our honeymoon and I was pretty sure NewWifey(tm) was in it for the long haul since she hadn’t run screaming from my nocturnal projectile-sharting or mayo chugging contests, I broke the news. I told her I play the flute.
“So that’s why you’re so bad at sex” she said.
I looked down at the floor and waited for the hammer to fall. Instead…silence. When I looked up I saw she had HER eyes cast downward.
“I guess I should tell you, that…that….” she stopped.
“It’s ok baby, you can tell me” I said. “I mean, if it’s about the white zin thing, I’ve already gotten over it. Anyone can make a mistake.”
She stayed looking down at the floor. Finally she gave a big sigh and said simply, “Viola.”
“I play the viola” she said. Then “…please don’t leave me.”
Alright, that’s a bit over dramatic. But it’s true that neither of us knew the other played their instrument until she unpacked her stuff on moving into Dangerhouse and we saw each other’s respective telltale cases.
Once we did discover we could both more or less still follow along to sheet music though, we’ve been making music of varying degrees of beautiful together. Especially at Christmas. Every year after Thanksgiving we set up our music stands in a corner of the dining room and rock out with…well, we play Christmas tunes. But it’s silly and it’s fun and half the time we’re drunk off our asses so it sounds like somebody’s torturing a cat but we love it anyway.
And nobody else knows we do it. Nobody.
But then, two Christmases ago, disaster struck. The day after Thanksgiving I took my flute case down, rammed the pieces together, and played a C-scale to warm up. Except I didn’t play a C-scale. I played a C…then a D…then an E….then an E…then an E…then an E…then an E….
My flute would only play three notes. C, D and E. And after a few minutes it would only play C and D.
My keys were stuck.
Crud. As in, there was crud built up in the rods and springs and pins and pads in my flute, and it had to be serviced. It’s one of those things you expect in any machine filled with rods and springs and pins and pads that you’re constantly blowing spit into and running oily fingers over. The trouble is, it’s expensive to un-gunk. More expensive than we had. I had no other choice. I disassembled the flute, put it back in the case, and returned it to the shelf. We tried playing Christmas tunes that year with me playing the piccolo, but have you ever heard a piccolo? Up close, in an enclosed 10 x 15 wood paneled room, I mean? It’ll slough the skin off your face. NewWifey(tm) dropped her viola and clamped her hands over her ears as soon as I eased into the first note of “Silent Night”. I dragged out my old grammar school plastic recorder, but that sounded too much like an old grammar school plastic recorder so we bagged that too. Dejected, we just gave up.
All last year we didn’t have the several hundred free either, so this past Christmas was another music-less holiday. We still got drunk of course, but it just wasn’t the same without a hideously off key rendition of “Dominick the Donkey”.
Then, two days after Valentine’s Day just past, NewWifey(tm) gave me my flute back. It was wrapped up in Christmas paper with a big bow and an even bigger Christmas card attached, and a bottle of Maker’s Mark.
“It was supposed to be done in time for Christmas” she said, “but the repair guy had some personal crisis and couldn’t get to it, and…well, here it is now.”
I opened the case. There was my beautiful Gemeinhardt open hole flute with the solid silver head joint and silver keys, all shined up and sparkling like it was new. I put it together and played a C-scale: C..D..E..F..G..A..B..C. They all worked!
I looked at NewWifey(tm). “How…where did you get the money?” I said. “I know we don’t have that much just lying around.”
She smiled. “My company finally turned a profit last year. Not a lot, but enough to get your baby fixed.”
I stood up and folded her into a big hug. I knew she’d only just broken even the first two years her business was in business, and how hard she worked this past year to break that barrier. That she would spend any of her hard earned gain on something that really only meant anything to me was an act of love so pure I….
“Wanna fuck?” I said.
“Why do you think I had it fixed?” she said. “But only after ‘Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer’. And some of that Maker’s Mark.” And she unpacked her viola.
Christmas in February. Y’know, I think that might just be a new tradition here at Dangerhouse from now on. I’m pretty sure the drinking and fucking will be, anyway.
G’night kids. Try not to blow it.
Paragraph I wish I’d written, but the overly brilliant Raven72D beat me to it: “A couple of weeks ago, I saw three contenders for nomination to run for US President stand in public and actually argue with one another over which of them was most in favour of torture. Last night, one of the three actually tossed out with grinning approval a story whose moral was “gosh, war crimes are really cool”. This all has to be a ruse set up by the Jameson Distillery to keep me buying more and more Irish whiskey. It has to be. Really— that has to be the explanation…doesn’t it? Please tell me that’s the explanation. Please?”