With a large scalpel, the diener makes a Y-shaped incision in the trunk, the arms of the “Y” extending from the front of the shoulders to the xiphoid process of the sternum. From there the incision continues to the pubic bone.

Organs are most commonly removed from the trunk with the Rokitansky method which will be familiar to deer-hunters among you.

And so on.

Executive summary: last night’s cello recital went well.

The lady I played my duet with and I agreed that the cello is the world’s most difficult instrument. In fact, I believe there is another string instrument, native to the Indian sub-continent, which is more difficult to play, requiring the musician to stick it halfway up the asshole of a sleeping Bengal tiger and pluck con brio but it is not very popular and most musicians eventually switch to the sarod or the dilruba.

Everything went wrong at the pre-recital rehearsal, which I took as a good sign as it left nothing to go wrong at the recital; in fact, this was nearly true.

I was a bit nervous as the room began to fill. I stood in the back and watched everyone come in and sit down. I tried various relaxation techniques. I stood there, arms hanging down relaxed, breathing deeply and calmly as goldfish fluttered where my heart usually was. I imagined my arms growing heavy. I visualized tension flowing out of them, but the rivulets of perspiration flowing down them kept distracting me.

A baby in the front row got the hiccups and the mother carried it to the back of the room. I flirted with it for a while. This distracted me for a while, which was good. It is nice to know that I can still make babies smile, although I was unable to get it to stick out its tongue. A couple more minutes, I’m sure I could have.

Long story short, remember reading Mark 5:2-15?

    The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.”

Remember that one? It turns out you can project your stage fright into babies, and they absorb it. At least this one could. Plus, it cures hiccups.

Win-win situation.

My turn eventually came. I walked to the front of the room and took my cello from the line of like 17 cellos or something, which looks really cool (the line of cellos, not me taking the cello) and also lets you distract yourself when you’re waiting by imagining them falling over, domino-style. I sat down and played my solo piece, a prayer by Beethoven, accompanied by piano. I had no major screwups and amid generous applause put back my cello and returned to where I had been standing. After a few more performances, none of them perfect although several were better than me (kids who have been taking lessons longer than I have), it was time for the final piece of the evening, a schmalzy duet. We both played that one quite well. Then it was over and my cello partner said, gee that was fun we should do that more often and I said, yes we really should. Gamma gave me a hug and my wife congratulated me. We went to the Italian restaurant but it turns out to be closed Tuesdays so we were going to go to the Japanese restaurant but Opa had been there for lunch with Gamma so we went to a Chinese restaurant instead. Where I had a large beer.

Alpha said a friend of ours, a doctor who I am sure during the course of his medical training has dissected his share of corpses, and also an amateur musician (that is, the doctor is an amateur musician, I doubt he has dissected amateur musicians, but anything’s possible) who was there watching his daughter play cello (she was one of the good ones, the best, I think, although she was not playing the hardest piece) said that I was “trying too hard to play the right notes”. Which, you know, wtf, that’s the point right? Play the right notes is one of the basics of music, I always thought. But I suppose he had a point, I may have been concentrating too much on intonation and not enough on bowing, or breathing, or sitting on the edge of the seat and proper posture etc.

It was good to hear some honest, knowledgeable criticism, because all the encouragement being given to me by friends and acquaintances (we knew everyone in the room; if I didn’t know them then Alpha had gone to school with them or Gamma knew them or her best friend K. who she dragged along for the ride knew them; they sat there like two little old ladies during the recital, studying the program and commenting on the kids and their choice of music and which ensemble they played in at the music school etc.) and even strangers, such as this one hot blonde mom was, although well-meant, after a certain point somehow belittling or demeaning, or depressing, because it’s an uncomfortable thing, learning a musical instrument as an adult, at least learning it among children like that. You find yourself in a childlike role. It’s nothing I can’t bear, but to be honest I’d rather learn among people my age, or at least have people tell me, look, I appreciate you are having fun and fulfilling a dream and overcoming fear and that’s all fine, but you sounded like crap tonight and this is why…

But that’s not a choice I have and a minor detail. Overall, I had fun, and am getting better.

7 responses to “Autopsy

  1. I’m glad you weren’t the only adult, then. That must’ve helped. That, and sounding good.

    and you know how I feel about the demonish pigs, so.

    Yes: I think one does want to hear honest, balanced appraisal. At least, it’s preferable to mealy-mouthed, condescending praise. It helps if suggestions are intelligible, however.

  2. excellent. now you can work a little on your dancing.

  3. Actually, I hate that kind of criticism, I want people to just shut up already. Give me empty praise any day, life is already too full of putdowns.

  4. bravo mig. i felt the same when i tried to learn to sail on our honeymoon. so used was i to thinking learning (more about what i had been living and breathing since the age of four) was easy!

  5. No guts, no glory…well done, Mig :-)

  6. What delicious courage! Good for you!!