Wednesday, August 4, 2010

5. Music

A rare compliment: C.W. informed me this morning that he had formed a deep appreciation for several of our accomplishments. He had found our universal crown of glory. You could have knocked me over with a limp metaphor.

“Your music, art, and literature are the best things about you,” He announced from nowhere. I had come upon him sitting in one of his favorite spots—a grassy spot overlooking the Arkansas River. He had assumed the shape and dress of a country and western singer, complete with a coat adorned with musical notes and an oversized cowboy hat that would have made a real cowhand wet his chaps laughing.

“How did such an otherwise unremarkable species manage it? I am particularly liking or having an affection for your music.”

“Do you mean to say you are fond of it?”

“Isn’t that what I said?”


“So tell me about your music. Earlier, I heard three little girls singing a song that consisted of the same line in offset sequences while maintaining harmonic equilibrium and stabilizing the musical impulses. Was music created to teach interpersonal cooperation and mathematical sequencing technology?”

“Uh, not really.”

“Oh. Then what for?”

“It’s just something folks do to express emotion and entertain. It’s more complicated than that but I’m no expert.”

“So can anyone produce or create these wonderful sounds?”

“Some better than others.”

With that, he let loose a Falloovian squeal that had a few recognizable notes of Love Me Tender scattered through it. When he finished, he raised the brim of his hat and managed a smile and “Thankee.”

People were stopping to stare from the path above where we were. I waved at them, pointed toward C.W., and shrugged as if to say we were rehearsing an act. They stared a few seconds more and moved on.

“So?” he looked at me as sincerely as any earthling could have.

“You may be one of the ones that don’t do it very well.”

He dropped his hat back down upon his forehead and appeared about ready to cry.

“Don’t feel badly,” I told him. “I don’t do it well either.”

This didn’t seem to cheer him much. I don’t think he had found anything that I did well so far. I was damning him which faint empathy.

“If I were a true member of your people,” he asked in a quiet voice, “Would I have been able to advance my capabilities by means of public education?”

“Once, perhaps,” I said trying to encourage him. Then honesty overtook me. “Nowadays they are starting to omit musical education in our schools. Costs too much, they say.”

He slammed his hat on the ground and growled at me. “Partner, do you mean to tell me that the state won’t train young people to do one of the few things you people excel in?

“Come on Tex,” I said. “Let’s go get us a beer.”

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