The Splinter

I’ve had a case of writer’s block since Christmas. Between that, the natural down of January, and the juggle-ation of work, students and gigs, I have left the upkeep of my beloved blog to my sweet Terpsichore. Alas. However, the poor girl has been musing alone long enough, and she has requested a specific kind of work. That always helps; an assignment. So my writing prompt for the near future is this.

Oh, Thalia, do please tell me some funny stories from your gigs!

I have plenty of funny stories. Terpsichore is right, they should be written down.

You have the title of this saga above. Refer to it if you get confused.

Era uma vez, our muse, Thalia, agreed to play a show at a local high school. They paid, and none of the nights conflicted with anything, so it seemed like a good idea. Thoroughly Modern Millie is an adorable show, after all. With lively, jazzy, simple music, and a cast of talented young singers, what could go wrong? After all, they’d been working on things since the summer time, and the sitzprobe went so swimmingly (albeit in two installments) that we got out early. That NEVER happens… clearly the augurs missed something, for the prognostication of a peaceful production petered out.
Ask me again.
What can go wrong, Thalia?
In February? Let’s start with the weather. It started snowing on Wednesday of tech week and it just didn’t stop for two weeks. Every night was a treacherous voyage of valour. With a British ‘u’. If it had snowed only, that might have been better too, but there was enough freezing rain to freeze my marrow. I’m chicken as a winter driver. Ask anyone about the time…. but that is a tale for another day.
Now ask me again.
What can go wrong, Thalia, my Thalia?
It’s a high school. Don’t forget that. The show must go on, but where the show goes on… has not been renovated in many many years. Oh, they have the project in hand. But remember, this is a plan, and one with no current semblance to fruition. The stage is creaky and the curtains are stained. The seats are considerably, and possibly even measurably more discomfortable than narrow, ancient pews. After all, pews are flat. These make a pretense at being…butt-shaped. I’m not sure whose bottom is like that…but the seats have pretensions.
Oh, and there is no pit. So the orchestra fans out in a long line on the floor in front of the audience. So great for acoustics… (ohhh…sarcasm!).
To prevent the whole world from seeing our feet, the high school powers that be put up a hip-high divider. We sat on one side, and the audience sat on the other. At least there was a visible barrier, I guess.
These dividers are plywood.
On Friday at intermission, I touched one. Never do that. Don’t touch things that shouldn’t exist. I touched it, and I walked forward, and my hand surrounded and engulfed the most gigantic splinter in the universe. Straight into my left palm, buried deep.
Backstage, a ‘helpful’ trumpet player offered me the use of a dull, unsterilized hack saw. Well, it was a massive leatherman knife. But I declined politely to dig, one handed at my palm in the middle of a show. So I played the second half, and Saturday’s show with a plank in my hand.
Millie closed, and I bade a painful, festering adieu to the show. It was fun, and I would do it again, except the log in my palm. But I didn’t know how I was going to get the thing out. I am not good at blood.
Sunday evening, I had another gig. This time, with a community orchestra hilariously by the acronym WACO. I’ve known the conductor and some of the orchestra members since I was 13 years old. They said “gas money” and I said “sure!” So we showed up, violin, bow, splinter and I.
I was staring at my hand, deep in ponderation when an old friend leaned over and yelled “That’s gotta come out! My sister is a nurse!”
And I thought… Why couldn’t you use her name? I’ve had you two confused for over a decade. Why couldn’t you have used her name, and solved the problem once and for all.
I said “Your sister is a nurse? Well, where is your sister!” because I didn’t know which sister I was talking to.
Sister Nurse amputated, and the removal required
1) scissorettes from a tiny swiss army knife courtesy of back row 1st violin
2) tweezers from a bassonist. heaven knows why
3) hand sanitzer from the first sister’s purse
4) 10 minutes of rehearsal time while the conductor watched the proceedings from the podium and gave wholly unheeded directions. as per usual.

That vindictive splinter gave me splinters as it came forth. I thanked both sisters, by both names, dividing my loving smile equally but vaguely between them.

And I survive to gig another day.



6 thoughts on “The Splinter

  1. “prognostication of a peaceful production petered out.” Excellent alliteration! You are my hero, just for that. And also for some of the best advice I have ever heard:
    “Don’t touch things that shouldn’t exist.”

    All growing up, I dreaded the gleeful smile that would come over my father’s face when he picked up an exacto knife for splinter-removal. He was good at it, and it rarely hurt, but that smile was scary. 😉

    • That sounds scary! Mel’s dad is a doctor who enjoys sewing people up…and tells tales of grue and thread after dinner on Fridays. It is… a different kind of tale telling than I am generally accustomed to…

      • yeah… two of my closest friends have become a Midwife and an EMT-soon-to-be-Paramedic. Their dinner conversations, especially when they are together, get pretty scary.

  2. “Don’t touch things that shouldn’t exist” sounds like advice from Mr. Weasley, right up there with “Don’t trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”

    (which prompts the question “How do you KNOW that it keeps its brain where you think it keeps it?” But I digress)

    Admittedly there may be an exception proving the rule where, say, mouldering fridge-food is concerned. Touch it JUST LONG ENOUGH to hurl it far from thee etc.

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