Ambling through Facebook I came upon a story from a local friend of mine who I met online before I ever met him offline. His name is Corby Anderson and he is a freelance writer. The prelude to our meeting offline began when Corby sent me this message on Facebook, “So, here’s a crazy story! The other day as I was getting moved into my cabin, a ragged looking floral delivery guy speeds up to the ranch, asking for an address. “Nope” I said. “Wrong address. Who’s it for?” I asked. “Jillian somebody.” he said. “Oh, Livingston? It’s her birthday I think.” he gave me a dumb look upon this comment. “I don’t really know her….unless Facebook counts…” more odd looks…
With that, I sent him down the drive to check the houses by the pastures. All of this means of course that if the man was right, we must be very close by. I live out here on a ranch. Thought that you might get a laugh out of that! Happy birthday! Hope you got the flowers!”
Since then Cory and I did meet in person for as it turns out his cabin is up the street from my sister, remember when she took me and my family in when we sold our house?
Anyway, I love Cory’s writing and when I found this story told below I felt the need to publish it on my blog, with his consent, of course. It’s too good to not share with all of you. Enjoy!~
SPORTS FOR STICKS
by Corby Anderson:
Yesterday at lunchtime I went out for my weekly Sunday meal and newspaper ritual. I wound up in the wayside town of El Jebel. Hungry after a late night of playing music at a foodless bar, I ordered up a burger, some fries and a coke. I was fetching the ketchup/salt/straw/napkin paraphernalia and trying my damndest to not think about the week ahead yet when my ears tuned into a racket emanating from the dining room. Looking in, I saw that the ruckus was coming from a little Latino kid, maybe 5 years old, who was smacking the table that he sat at loudly and consistently with a pair of plastic sporks.
Consciously, I chose to sit as far away from the noise as I could. I spread out my papers and dug into the weeks news. I had brought my journal along and had some designs on writing a few pages as well, but after a few minutes of mentally trying to block the noise coming from the boy across the dining room, I found that the loud, rapid fire smacking of the spoons was overwhelmingly annoying and gave up the idea of writing there at lunch.
You know how a particularly out of place noise in a certain situation can just grate on you? Well, times that by two. Sure, I could get up and leave, but I was the customer here. I had purchased food and had a right to sit and read my paper in relative quietude, right? And here was this oblivious child, no parent in sight, ruining my long-anticipated Baconator moment! Were I an urbanite, you can just about guarantee that my outraged gourd would resemble a bobble head and my outstretched finger a windshield wiper. I started to get up and go say something, but just before standing, a strong instinct told me not to.
I sat back and thought for a moment. I opened my ears, listening to all of the noises of the otherwise quiet restaurant. The crew hustle was blocked by the wall that separated us. The few other diners each sat alone, eating silently absent the occasional straw slurp. The kid smacking out a ratta-tat-tat-TAT on the Formica table top. The overhead speakers piped in an old rock and roll song. The kid persisted, smacking the salt and pepper shakers, leveling the paper pyramid of marketing material on the table. I went back to the Denver Post sports page. The headline was for a game that was two days ago. I glanced at the top of the page. Damn. Saturday’s paper for Sunday coin. I had gotten distracted by running into a good old friend at the newspaper boxes. Her husband is one of my heroes. He died for an hour a few years ago while eating a steak in Aspen, Colorado. He’s barely with us now. I hugged them both, and wished her a happy Mothers Day. She showed me the charm that her daughter had given her at their breakfast picnic. I told her that it was beautiful, and how I though the idea of a breakfast picnic was ridiculously cool.
The song changed. In the split second interval of one song ending and the other starting I heard calm and quiet in the restaurant. Then, the jolting intro riff to Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” cranked up, and, once more, so did the kid on the sporks.
It was only then, with my annoyance squashed by an inner voice that occasionally tells me to live in the moment and just observe (the writers instinct?) and my attention properly relaxed and focused that I realized that the boy was actually drumming with those sporks, not just being a nuisance. He was hitting the spice shakers as toms, using the cardboard triangle as a splash. And though his tempo was off, he was actually pretty well matching the rhythm of the tune. Skeptical still, I waited for the legendary drum solo section, ready to dismiss the whole thing as an idyll kids dumb luck. I thought of the infinite monkey theorem – the one that says that you can give a team of monkey time enough tapping on enough keyboards and eventually they will write Shakespeare.
The fuzzed-out guitars fired into that old familiar staccato rhythm. Duh-duh-duh-duh-da-da-duh-duh! The bass followed. Then the stringed instruments dropped out and the drum solo came. The kid followed a half beat behind, reaching all across his “kit” of a table for effect. Astounding, I thought! He was mimicking an incredibly complex drum solo on what I had to assume was ear alone.
My drink disappeared, when the song ended I got up to get a refill. The kid watched me closely as I crossed the restaurant, putting his sticks down on the table. “Hey kid, you speak English?” I asked on a whim. He nodded and smiled. “Yes,” he said quietly. I asked him how old he was. He held up three fingers in each hand. “You ever played a drum kit before?” followed my line of questioning. “No,” he said, dropping his chin to his chest in a classic pout. I thought quickly back on my own youth, when I had tried out for jazz band as a drummer. “Look buddy, you need to get your parents to enroll you in a music class pronto! You’ve got chops!”
He motioned back to the rear corner of the restaurant. “Papa,” he exclaimed dejectedly, pointing with his back-cast thumb at a booth where a couple of employees were looking over a notebook, discussing work. I looked back at the counter. There was no one to be seen behind it. The kitchen was empty.
“Hey Dad-Of-The-Kid-That-Is-Sitting-Here-Drumming-On-The-Table!” I said perhaps a little too abruptly in an amplified voice. He looked up startled. “Is this your kid?” I asked, closing the distance, consciously trying not to come off as mad or weird. He nodded, getting up out of his booth. “Yes, yes!” He looked at the boy with a caring look that turned stern in the same glance. “What is wrong sir, is he being too loud?” “No, no. He’s fine. But I do think that you need to get him a drum set and into music classes, quick like! The kid has insane skills for his age. The longer you put it off, the longer it’ll be until you get to hear his real talent. And you know, there is nothing worse for a household than an ambitious, untrained drummer!” I explained with a grin.
The father walked over to his son, roughing up his thick black hair with a firm swipe, leaving a frozen rooster tail in his wake. They looked at each other. The son’s brown eyes beaming up at his father with excitement and love. The father reflected and magnified down the feeling in his own identical eyes. “Would you like that, Carlos?” he asked. The kid nodded in a brace of double time head shakes. “OK then, we’ll get you a drum for your birthday!” he said lovingly. “And sticks!” the kid replied instantly. “And a medium Coke, for me,” I added, rattling the ice in my waxy cup.
*Corby Anderson is a freelance writer who writes from the spidery loft of an old log cabin on a truck ranch in Emma, Colorado. His essays, literary, food and music reviews, PR work, novel excerpts, poetry and other detritus can be found at http://www.corbyanderson.wordpress.com, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.