Posts Tagged ‘same’
I know a man-child. I had never met one before I joined the veteran’s band, but I did as soon as I started showing up to practice. He stood out. He stands out a lot.
He stands up a lot, too, up in front of the whole band. Though he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket if it were welded inside, he’s our lead vocalist.
He isn’t that bad of a singer, I suppose, though his voice warbles out of tune with alarming frequency. He’s American Idol material, if with only this caveat — he’d only be popular in the first half of the season.
At our concerts, he’s introduced as a featured vocal soloist for the Chicago Symphony for “many, many years.” That’s his story he tells. We know that he was in a ridiculously large chorus performing beside the Chicago Symphony for a few performances, and hasn’t been back since. Maybe the director over there got as sick of his one-upmanship and unjustified self-centered diva personality as we should be.
We daren’t kick him out. He has a place here.
At the very least, he qualifies for our veteran’s band, as a former Navy SEAL. We ignore that he was kicked out of the Navy SEALs for getting his Navy SEALs tattoo before he finished training. He tries so hard to do some good, but just when you think he has something between the ears, he goes off and does some fool thing.
Especially on pieces when he’s in the back of the band playing percussion instead of the front singing or narrating, he’ll purposefully say something inane — “I can’t play the cymbal. My music says ‘suspended.’” We”ll look in his general direction to soothe his ego, and we’ll roll our eyes afterward. Our director is the picture of patience. He’s also the picture of subtly wry humor our soloist never picks up on.
He plays every instrument in the band better than the musicians who played professionally, if you believe what he says. You won’t: He can’t quite get a grip even on his bass drum and cymbal.
He is famous for his generosity, and is even more famous for how his generosity is a misguided attempt to purchase our friendship to him. He thinks it’s working because, in spite of it all, we consider him a friend.
He’s a loud, boorish cad, and the band just wouldn’t be the same without him. He’s our loud, boorish cad. That makes all the difference.
Politics is universal, and a sham. So much of what we see is theatre put on for our benefit, as demonstrated by a British series from the 1980s called Yes, Minister.
Yes, Minister — and, eventually, Yes, Prime Minister — is a show about the internal workings of the British Department of Administrative Affairs, analogous to our Department of the Interior. As a satiric sitcom, this television show has to be a thousand times more realistic than the bunk you see on The West Wing.
Although Great Britain’s constitutional monarchy is an odd beast, and although its parliament is just different enough to warrant brushing up on comparative government before watching an episode or two, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of deja vu as I breeze through the 38 or so episodes. I’ve seen all this intrigue somewhere before.
One of the great tropes of the series is when one of the characters gets into a monologue about how government really works, patiently explaining that the job of the civil service is to prevent the elected officials from messing up the government. The best official, the civil service frequently says, is a puppet. Later that episode, when main character and career puppet Jim Hacker is coerced into making an ultimately successful mid-term campaign for Prime Minister, his advisers tell him exactly what he has to do.
If asked if he wants to be Prime Minister, the generally acceptable answer for a politician is that while he does not seek the office, he has pledged himself to the service of his country, and that should his colleagues persuade him that that is the best way he can serve, he might reluctantly have to accept the responsibility, whatever his personal wishes might be.
Hacker does this.
Hacker: The next Prime Minister would have to be someone you could trust. An old friend.
Duncan: Do you mean you?
Hacker: I have absolutely no ambition in that direction.
Duncan: You do mean you.
Eric: So Duncan would get No. 10. My God.
Hacker: Not if I can help it. [takes a drink] Cheers.
Eric: You don’t mean you?
Hacker: Me? My children are at the age where my wife and I would like to spend much more time with each other.
Eric: You do mean you.
I don’t know about you, but I saw more than a little bit of Fred Thompson, whose campaign peaked just before he announced his candidacy. Before that, he had no ambition. He wanted to spend time with his family.
He wanted to be the head of government, no doubt about it.
The eeriest scene involved what turns out to be Jim Hacker’s campaign speech. It’s full of melodrama, patriotism, triviality and overdone pomp. In other words, though him crying out against repressed British sausage will sound foreign to our ears, his rhetoric will remain very, very familiar.
Why is it that British shows always seem so American?
Old and young aren’t as different as I had thought, as recent personal observation attests.
Some members of a local veteran band cool down with some late-night eating after each weekly practice. Because I just joined the band this week, they didn’t know me well enough to not invite me — ha, ha — but invited me they did.
At least a full quarter of this band voted against Wendell Wilkie in 1944, another third has seen more than three times my 21 years and most of the rest hit puberty before my parents met. In other words, the band skews between relatively old and hellaold. Yet had their conversations been transcribed and rearranged, tonight’s dinner could have been credibly performed by a representative mix of teenagers.
The subject of the evening: We were kicked out of our rehearsal hall when the President of some association with control over it walked calmly in during practice and told our director that we had been reminded several times that we were not allowed to park in the alley because of the potential fire hazard.
As with teenagers, there was unrealistic whining bolstered by insight into the band that only a band member would have.
Why did Mr. President approach our director? He isn’t the head of our organization.
As with teenagers, there was fallacy.
This doesn’t make any sense. We aren’t the only ones who park in that alley.
As with teenagers, there was cattiness.
Well, actually, he didn’t yell at us. He kept his voice down, and I could tell by the way he announced that he was in AUSA, also, that it was all he could do not to cry.
As with teenagers, there was gossip.
I heard that in the letter they gave us, it says that someone asked one of our members had been asked to move his car, and that person said back, “Tow me.”
As with teenagers, there was implausible denial.
“Tow me?” That doesn’t sound like any of our people.
By my count, and from one practice, I could tell that “Tow me,” is the exactly the statement that at least four band members — one first trumpet, two clarinet, one tenor sax — in that band room would have said.
More over, getting kicked out of the veteran’s hall was a convoluted situation, and nobody really understood it, but they would only admit to it in their dramatic and accusatory tones of voice. Just like teenagers.
However much perspective changes over time, and whatever it is that experience adds to the human equation, just about everyone past adolescence has a teenage personality.