I’ve routinely annoyed my wife over the past few years by reminding her that, if she ever finds herself at a loss for Christmas or birthday gift ideas, I will gladly accept a gift certificate for lessons for either Marimba or Taiko drums. Kinda’ joking, but kinda’ serious. Like when I make fun of other guys wearing tank tops (when really I wish that I could wear them too).Little did I know that my mother-in-law caught wind of my secret desire to learn how to pound wooden planks with big mallets. On my last birthday, she surprised me with two lessons with a marimba teacher.
At first I smiled, and said “thank you”.
Then, realizing how ridiculous marimbas and their players are, I guffawed and laughed. Maybe even chortled.
Then I thought about the possibility that I could actually unabashedly pursue a lifelong dream, eschewing the fear of appearing like a total dork.
So I did it! And I think my life may have changed.
Christian, have you ever pursued such a lifelong dream?
Christian: The other week I had a dream where I could instantaneously spawn a taco in my hand whenever I wanted to but then I was suddenly in my second grade teacher Mrs. Lawrence’s classroom, but was still an adult. She kept calling on me to spell “Guggenheim” which I couldn’t get right but then I woke up so I went and looked it up and figured out how to spell it.
Is this what you’re talking about?
Pat: No. Not at all. Are you on that anxiety medication again? If so, let me know if there’s anything I can do.
No...a dream, like when you want to do something with your life more than what you’re doing. ‘Cause you feel...inadequate, I guess. THAT kind of dream.
Christian: Oh. No, the only dream I had to fulfill to make myself feel adequate with my life - as you put it - is giving up on all those other kind of dreams that you’re talking about. And I think I’m almost to the point of fully accepting that none of my life dreams are going to come true which makes me feel alot better about things. That and alcohol.
But tell me more about these marimba dreams of yours. How many lessons have you had?
Pat: Well, I had exactly two. And in those two lessons I learned that I, apparently, possess super marimba skills. So, really, those two lessons for me were like twenty three lessons for a common marimba player like you.
Y’ know, when you’re good at something, you just gotta’ hop on that horse and see where it takes you, whether to the pasture or to greener fields. I think I got lost in an analogy there.
Anyway...I like it. I haven’t invested in a dashiki yet, or taken a traditional Shona name, but I won’t rule either of those out.
Christian: Two huh? How is it that you know you have super marimba skills? Are you just assuming you have super marimba skills or has someone told you that you have super marimba skills?
For example, I have always felt that I have tremendous teeth brushing skills but no one has ever told me that so how do I know I’m right? Actually, I have never had a cavity so that’s how I know I’m right. So maybe that’s not a good example but you understand what I’m saying.
Pat: Well, that’s easy. My teacher told me. His name was Kite, and he was really tall and REALLY skinny and kind of pale. And he wore sandals with his khakis, so you could really see his long toenails. And he had long thinning hair around the sides of his head, accentuating his balding dome. Kinda’ like Gallagher...remember him? And those crazy watermelons? That was funny.
So yeah...Kite said I was really good. And he would know. He’s like a marimba expert.
Christian: Kite sounds like an upstanding fellow and I guess he would know. So were the lessons at some professional studio? Were there other marimba prodigys taking lessons with you or did you take individual lessons?
Pat: So many questions. Umm, no there were no other prodigies in the room. I was the only one. There were some lesbian women (not an assumption, by the way--they told me right off the bat) and a young kid. He really sucked. And the younger lesbian was better than the older lesbian.
In terms of the practice space, define “professional”. It was in Kite’s basement. I had to walk through a dark door, cross through the dark and damp basement, and enter a room on the other side.
Re-reading that last paragraph, I’m not sure I would recommend such lessons to my kids. Or take another one myself.
Still...in that dark basement room, surrounded by Kite, lesbians and untalented youth, I felt like I came alive. Like Frampton.