"Call Me Irresponsible"

This week's story might as well have the famous scrolling text against the star field ... "A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away ..." because from where I sit today, this episode really does seem that distant!

It's the late '60s, and I'm in my late teens, perhaps in the last year of high school. As I mentioned in one of these stories a couple of weeks ago, at that stage of my life I was intensely involved with music, and had a large 'portfolio' of activities under way at any given time. For a couple of years, I was the principal flutist in the local Youth Orchestra. This organization had three divisions: our 'proper' orchestra at the top, and two other ensembles made up of younger less-developed players. It was common for musical families to have members in different divisions at the same time of course, and one of my friends in our orchestra (a player of the string bass who later became a respected professional) had siblings in the beginner group.

Somehow - I no longer remember how this all began - I ended up working with a group of children from that group. I had arranged a Bach chorale to be sung by children's chorus accompanied by a string quartet and guitar, and over a period of some weeks, with me on guitar, we rehearsed this until it was quite presentable. (I was not responsible for the chorus; this was directed by an elderly gentleman who was quite famous locally for his groups.)

The whole thing came out so well that it ended up being programmed as an 'interlude' in a concert of the beginner group of the orchestra, scheduled for an upcoming Sunday afternoon.

All very well. What could go wrong?

Well nothing should have gone wrong, but disaster struck nonetheless. And it was totally my fault. I forgot the concert.

I was relaxing at home on the Sunday afternoon, when a phone call came. The concert was well under way, the time for our piece was drawing closer, and I was nowhere to be seen, so one of the organizing ladies was calling me.

I no longer remember exactly what I said, but it must have been on the order of "I'll get there as soon as I can!"

That though, was easier said than done. We lived in an isolated suburb south of the city, to which there was in those days no bus service. Even with a car, which I did not have, it would have been a 45 minute trip minimum to the hall, which was in a northern suburb. But I legged it. I grabbed the guitar and ran for a nearby highway intersection where all traffic bound for the city had to pass, and as soon as I got there I stuck out my thumb to see if I could bum a ride.

Somebody up there was watching over me that day, because not only did I get a ride right away, he was going in the right direction, and it took me only two 'hops' to get to the hall, where I burst in through the stage door just about an hour after receiving the call.

I found that they had re-arranged the items on the program, putting our piece at the very end, and we were thus able to present our beautiful little arrangement to everybody. All's well that ends well ...

My own self-image is that of a basically nice guy who is generally respected by most people I have met, but I have to admit, there are people out there to whom if you were to mention my name, would roll their eyes and say "Oh, that guy! ..."


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