Monthly Archives: November 2011

Becoming a Man

A little boy walked up to his father one day, and saw that his father was cutting down a tree. “Why,” asked the dew-faced youngster, “are you cutting down that tree?”

His father looked at him with a surly grin and said lovingly, “This is a thing a child cannot understand; but you will know the answer when you become a man.”

The angelic child, saddened that he could not yet understand his father’s motivation, but feeling light in heart at the knowledge that he someday would, walked away.

Years passed, and the boy saw his father cutting down many things–trees, bushes, people with high opinions of themselves, and paper lanterns–and every time, he asked his father why. His father, eyes sparkling like grape juice, always answered the same way: “This is a thing a child cannot understand; but you will know the answer when you become a man.” The boy, still a boy but wiser now, smiled himself, and said, “OK.” As he walked away, a tear came into the father’s eye. He had heard a slight crackle in his son’s voice, a sound that meant the long-awaited moment of knowledge was close enough to touch.

Finally, the day came when the boy was a man. His father was standing out by the barn when the boy approached him. As he drew near, the father turned. In his hand was a hatchet.

“Here is a thing,” said the father, “that a boy cannot understand.”

The boy waited in anticipation, trembling with the excitement of anticipated knowledge.

“A man has a job, a job no one else can do. He must cut things down. Things like fear, anger, hatred, fury, sadness, depression, greed, avarice, indiscretion, intemperance, and terror. These are things a man must cut down and destroy. But there is another side to this, a side perhaps more important. A man must plant something good to replace the bad thing he has destroyed.”

The boy’s eyes filled with tears as he realized that he was the new tree. He fell into the old tree’s arms, and then they went out, to replace evil, wherever they found it, with good.

If you love your father and America, repost this story. Share it with your friends and neighbors. Let the world know: we need more men with hatchets, and less men with hatred.

Oboe Music

Is there anything more dull than listening to a friend playing the oboe? I would submit there is not, because I have been listening to my stupid friend playing the same piece on the oboe for over two hours, and I am bored of it. I would not be unhappy if I never heard an oboe again.

I have been playing the oboe for hours. Everyone loves it except my friend here, who hates it. I know he hates it, but I know he will listen to it. He would listen to it if I played for three, four more hours. He is not really here for the music, of course. He wants us to make our own beautiful music, as he actually said to me once. I laughed and so did he, but more ruefully. I wonder if he knows that if we made music together, I would still play the oboe.

And why does it have to be something so high pitched? I had a roommate once who played electric guitar loudly every night. He thought he was Eddie. Sometimes I wondered if he knew there were frets lower than 12. He did the thumb tapping thing, like on Eruption, until one night I erupted and found another roommate. The thing she does with her finger, when she trills, reminds me of that. The same eerie fluttering. It’s unnatural, is what it is. The piano is a good instrument. I wonder why she didn’t take up the piano.

I never liked the piano. The keys felt too heavy. The whole thing felt too heavy, and there’s so much pressure. Good music, real music, it’s created on a piano. If Beethoven had used my piano, he could still have composed his symphonies. Jim Brickman could still have written “My Valentine.” I couldn’t play Row Your Boat properly for over a month. I finally gave up on it. I tried the guitar, but it didn’t seem feminine enough, unless I was Joan Baez, which I wasn’t. So I gave up music for a while, tried interpretive dance, and, one day, while interpreting Vivaldi with my hips, I thought of the oboe, and I never looked back.

Pianos are really the ticket. Least annoying instrument, hands down. I don’t love pianos but they have less capacity for annoyance. Honest to God, I’d rather hear a cat convulsing on a piano for five hours than hear 15 minutes of the most beautiful oboe music ever played. But I can’t leave. I’d like to go, but of course I can’t. I said I’d stay. I’m the guinea pig. Or maybe the plant. In the 70s, some lab did studies on plants. They played some plants heavy metal and some plants classical. The classical plants grew faster. The heavy metal plants died. I think it was supposed to teach me that metal will kill you. Well, isn’t that the point?

Playing the oboe isn’t popular. In fact, a lot of people think I mean the piccolo, which is crazy because I’d never even touch one of those things. Too fragile, and what can you play on them? I know, no one knows any of the great oboe pieces either, but that’s just lack of exposure. I think you can play Flight of the Bumblebee on the piccolo. I could play it on the oboe, but I don’t want to. I enjoy playing the beginning of Beethoven’s 5th. Twee twee twee twee. Twee twee twee twee.

I think that was Beethoven’s 5th.