The Guild.

Posted: March 19, 2012 in music
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It’s gotten so I can recognize them on sight. Just takes a second or so.

The slight, almost imperceptible nod of the head that keeps time with the steps as they walk.

The callouses between thumb and pointer finger on the right hand; or between middle and ring fingers of the left; or the callouses on fingertips.

The tiny smile.

The look of distraction; like someone listening to ear buds, but with no wires, no mp3s, no little white plastic doo-dads sticking out of their ears.

I used to wonder what it was that made people think I was a musician. Was it the glasses, thick black plastic rims and coke-bottle lenses? The goatee? The questionable fashion choices? No, it was none of these. I did experiments, changed up the variables, strove for statistical rigor. Those things weren’t the cues.

I finally discovered it when I was in the hospital last year from the second (or third, depending on who’s counting) stroke. There was … something about one of my nurses. I asked her.

“Yes,” she replied, startled. “I play cello. How’d you know?”

“I really don’t have a clue,”  I answered. “Have you had people tell you before that you looked like a musician?”

She nodded. “I get that all the time. I’ve been trying to figure out how people can tell.”

“You, too, huh? It’s a little unnerving, isn’t it?”

“What, that people can tell something so personal about you and what makes you tick -”

“-without you even knowing what you’re doing to tip ’em off. I get that a lot, too,” I concluded.

“You know,” she began, “it’s funny, because I was about to ask you what instrument you played. Just before you asked me.”

In the world of sit-com romances and bad fiction, this would have been the beginnings of a beautiful romance. In the real world, however, this took place in the early morning before I had been bathed by strangers in the rehab wing of Tampa General. I could barely stand, I had oxygen tubes up my nose, the orderlies hadn’t given me a new gown yet. I was hardly the dashing figure of breathtaking manlitude that I normally am. Ahem.  

There is something about musicians, I suppose. Long days and nights perfecting complicated languages; contorting your body in strange ways; injuring fingers, lips, hands, chin, chest – all in the hopes of coaxing vibrations from wood and metal, skin and bone and air. Hoping that those vibrations will speak to yourself, or even someone else. There’s no logic behind it. The activity in and of itself doesn’t produce food, or generate offspring, or provide shelter. There’s a hint of madness in it.

Yet, without such madness, we would be less than human.

Graciela and Marisol.


words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

  1. Norma Jordan says:

    Yet, without such madness, we would be less than human.

    Bravo! We could all use a little more such madness in our days. It’s good to hear this from the perspective of those who flirt with the insanity of giving birth to sound.

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