Who Wants To Hear Some Flamenco?

July 21, 2010

My guitar teacher encouraged me to start singing, but I didn’t want to. We argued about it and that led to another argument about whether or not I should learn jazz and how much I would benefit from him writing out tabs to Sublime songs. I decided I needed new guitar teacher. I called Jim McCutcheon, a beloved Dayton-area celebrity who had recorded a CD of kids’ music and taught at the University of Dayton. You have a lot to learn, he said after my first lesson. And if you don’t learn some classical tunes, you’re wasting my time and your time. So I grew out a few fingernails and learned a flamenco song that I figured was classical-sounding enough to be considered classical. Lessons 2 and 3: Jim made me play that flamenco song again and again, for half an hour. You’re trying to try but you’re not trying as much as I know you can try, he said. He also wouldn’t write out Sublime tabs and told me to Google that garbage.

Two of Jim’s professor buddies interrupted our fourth lesson. They wheeled their bikes into Jim’s practice room. One of them said, We need you to settle something. I say that the longer I ride my bicycle, the more in-tune I become with the way the machine behaves and thus, I become part bicycle and the bicycle becomes part human. The other professor said, Charles won’t shut up about this nonsense and it’s ruining my birthday. Please, Jim, tell him to stop.

I’m with a student. This will have to wait.

Your student is more important than the most vital question of our time?

Your student takes precedence over this horseshit that is ruining my sixty-second birthday?

Jim asked if I would mind if they stuck around for a few minutes and I said no.

Charles: Fact: As I age I become less of a man and more of a corpse.

Jim: I disagree. But continue.

Charles: I will die someday. The bike will break and rust and thus, die someday, too. But until that happens, I will ride it. And while I ride it, our energies will mix and we will create a new energy that’s bigger than both of our energies combined.

Jim: Maybe. You could say that about people, too. The more you know someone, the more energy you get from them and the more you become them and the more they become you.

Birthday-Boy Professor: Don’t encourage him.

Charles: Exactly. And I should mention that I’ve begun dreaming as a bicycle. Sometimes I sit in a garage and other times a young boy is riding me on a dirt road towards a tennis court.

Birthday-Boy Professor: That doesn’t mean anything. You’re just horny and depressed.

Charles: No. But I think my bicycle is horny and depressed. And I think the young boy represents my father because he played tennis until he had a stroke.

Birthday-Boy Professor [turns to me and says]: I need dumb friends.

Charles: Eventually the bicycle will be as much of a human as I am a bicycle. We will achieve equilibrium. And that’s when we’ll both die. Jim, if you’re still farting around Earth when we die, I want you to make sure we’re burned together in a big pyre. Near the Masonic Temple, if you can swing it.

Jim: Will do. But if I die before you die [and he turns to me] you’ll have to make the arrangements. Exchange phone numbers with Charles before you leave today and have him call you before he dies.

Me: OK.

Jim: Good. End of discussion. Now. Who wants to hear some flamenco?

Birthday-Boy Professor: I do.

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