Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Broken Mallet of Doom

It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Yesterday found me in deep meditation about how to fix what didn’t work in the Spring Concert rehearsal with the kids— with a two-hour deadline before performance that night! I hit upon the three things I needed— a fake beard, a pig nose and new vibraphone mallets. Just what you were thinking, yes?

First stop at Cliff’s Hardware yielded one and a half out of three— got the fake beard, but had to settle for a pig pacifier. Then to Haight Ashbury Music Center and as my cynical self suspected, they didn’t have the precise mallets I needed. But I tried out a few pair and found something I thought even better. Things were looking up! And then a couple of doors down, I popped into Mendell’s and voila! just the pig nose I needed! The skies parted, the trumpets sounded, celestial light flooded over me— I was a happy man.

Turns out that indeed, the pig nose and fake beard helped save the day for 2nd grade and the new vibraphone mallets helped as well with 4th. My colleagues’ work with 1st, 3rd, and 5th was simply breathtaking and the whole evening a wonderful affirmation of why I’m in this line of work. But no time to relax yet— tomorrow was the Middle School rehearsals and that night, their concert.

And so I woke up with concert details on my mind and on a rare warm day, mounted my bike to ride to the Brava Theater. The 8th grade’s version of “Love Is Just Around the Corner” was singing in my mind, I was enjoying the flow of fellow bicyclists and loving my city in its summer clothes. And I was thinking about those vibraphone mallets, and how happy I was going to be to show them off to the 8th graders. Like I said, it doesn’t take much to please me and I have a special affection for a new pair of just-right mallets for the vibes.

I entered the theater with a spring in my step, greeted my colleague Sofia and within one minute of starting to set the stage, she showed me something: a broken vibraphone mallet! Yes, the one I had just bought that had been used for exactly two pieces last night! And yes, they were the last pair at the Music Store and no, no other store in San Francisco carries them, and yes, the concert was tonight.

My fall from light and bright to doom and gloom was swift and devastating. I was crushed. What have I done to deserve such pain and sorrow?! How I needed to be happy for more than five minutes! Was that too much to ask? And by the way, just who or what am I asking? Never been a big fan of the Supreme Being, who if he/she/it exists must have more important things on his/her/ its mind than my broken mallet (or the equivalent of 7 billion broken mallets to contend with). I do have a sense of angels and helping hands and karmic flow and muses and lost twins and inner voices worth listening to, but what exactly are they all trying to tell me? And why am I failing all their tests so miserably?

Well, with two hours before concert time, there’s no time to ponder that. I need to pay attention to whether a djembe played with brushes is a suitable replacement for the missing snare drum and how to position the piano so the sightlines work. Wish me luck.

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