Sunday, January 29, 2006

Hell on Earth

What’s your worst nightmare? The thing so bad you can’t even truly imagine it? Turn on all the lights and sit with your back to a corner and we’ll examine it. Everything you’re about to read really happened. Just be glad it didn’t happen to you.

Say you’re a musician. A trumpet player. You graduate from one of the best music schools in the world, then spend ten years playing with the orchestras in Boston, New York, Vienna. Never quite able to grab the hot gig, but always working.

The lack of steady income gets old after a while and you end up far away from the madding crowd of musical high society. Just to pick a city at random, let’s say Portland, Oregon. There you’re stuck as the assistant behind a man more acclaimed as a douche bag than a trumpet player for ten years, putting up with his attitude and whining and sorry playing because the job’s yours when he’s gone. Somewhere along the line the music director changes, but the signals don’t.

Then the douche bag retires.

The orchestra has auditions. No big deal, they have to replace someone, and the auditions can be for an associate if the principal job is filled from within. (Nudge, nudge.) People come in from all over and play. You play. And finish second. The winner is the single person in all recorded history you’d like to spend your career sitting next to less than the douche bag who just retired.

Up until today you thought the worst thing that had ever happened to you was losing a coin toss for a ticket to see the Boston Celtics win Game 6 and clinch the 1986 NBA Championship. That was a nude beach during Carnival compared to this. What have you done to deserve this?

You think a minute. Remember the time you ran off to get married? All the male friends you had reduced to the subjects of burlesque were good sports about it because they knew some day your bachelor party would come, and all debts would be settled. Remember the wedding announcements you sent? After the fact?

Life’s a bitch, and karma is its agent on earth.

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