Friday, July 12, 2013

Amateur or Professional?

Because . . . even werewolves like the violin.

"I'd like to buy some new strings for my violin," I told a teenager who stood behind the counter at a tiny music store. I nearly coughed from all the dust clinging to the instruments around us.  But I smiled nonetheless, trying to be extra nice.
    The young clerk studied everything about me, chewed a huge wad of gum, then asked condescendingly, "Amateur or Professional strings?"
    #1  WHY was she chewing gum?  Who cared she had rhythm even as she chewed--THAT was unprofessional.
    #2  Wasn't her question a bit offensive?
    "Pro . . . fes . . . sional?" I drew out the word, doubting myself.
    "Really," she scoffed.  "Fine then, what brand?"
    Was this twenty questions?  I just wanted some stupid strings to play for a gig I'd been HIRED for.
    "Adurrio?" I muttered, forgetting the name because I have post-pregnancy brain--always.
    She laughed so hard she bent from the exertion.  "Correction. D'addario.  That's the kind my teacher uses." She turned and grabbed a pack while whispering, "Amateur."
    I wanted to grab a dusty violin from the wall and show that CHILD a thing or two.  I became a professional when she was still poo'n in diapers!  I became a professional--who didn't have to worry about nice strings making me sound good.  I know this might sound conceited, but playing the violin is one thing I'm good at.  In high school I didn't feel worth much.  I was usually self-conscious and nervousBut when I played my violin, people saw me differently.  I made friends and guys asked me out.  It was as if my soul finally came through the music and kids thought I had value--for once.
    I blinked, staring at the girl who held out amateur strings for me to buy.  I could have shown her up, and made her feel like crap, I really could have.  But instead, I let her have her moment and I walked from the store.
    When I got home, I strung my violin, went outside and played a haunting song in my backyard.  The birds stopped singing and just listened.  A tall farmer who lives behind me quit whistling.  The world stirred and all the delicate things in nature danced within the music of those amateur strings. When I finished, the farmer clapped.  He yelled from over the fence, "You're the best fiddler I've ever heard of.  And to think, people wouldn't guess unless they knew."
    "Thanks, Mike.  That's the beauty of it though.  It's my secret." His recognition felt nice.  I wondered for a moment why I hadn't proven myself to that teenage clerk.  The answer came almost as quickly as the question . . . because I'd finally found a bit of worth inside myself, and it hadn't come from people saying how great I am at the violin.    

Here's a video my sweet cousin Farrah taped at one of our performances this spring.


  1. Lovely, Middle Child, simply lovely.

    Your Mother from Another Planet

  2. My wife is a flutist and she's gotten this attitude before. I think it has less to do with you and more to do with the nature of the field. Teenaged gum chewer or not, I wouldn't doubt the counter girl played an instrument too. Treating you like crap was probably her own insecurities coming out...

    That or maybe she was just a teenaged jerk. :)

  3. Yeah it was more than likely her own insecurities as said. But still, would have been fun to grab something and whack her gum chewing face over the head hahaha

  4. You don't NEED a violin--but I'm so GLAD you have one!!

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  6. For some reason I pictured a devil went down to Georgia type show down where you played against the little punk and blew her out of the water while watching her choke on her own gum. Not to death. Just the temporary uncomfortable kind of choking. Obviously.

    Loved this, as usual. :)

  7. Good for you. Taking the high road when you could have strung HER up with a "professional" tune or two. Found your blog via Susan Kane:)

  8. I admire your nerves! I could not hold myself together.

    But you're right. you don't need people telling how amazing you are. You already know it :)

  9. A woman I worked with in the past adopted an Asian child & another employee said: Oh, buy her a violin!

    Cough :-0

  10. Dear Elisa, wow and double wow and congratulations for believing in yourself! Peace.

  11. I am sure it was hard to hold yourself back. The clerk has some personality traits to overcome. I have heard the videos of you playing and you are amazing. A professional. Great post!

  12. Speaking of violins my neighbor just bought one and plays it all day and night >_<

  13. I'm glad you see your worth! And for the record, I saw you differently long before I heard you play.

  14. I sure liked the remark by Vapid Vxn: 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia' images comes to mind. E - you are amazing!

  15. You certainly don't need to prove yourself to anyone and I'm glad you know that now.

  16. Damn you are good and how good of you not to show the gum chewing brat up.........

  17. You need to invite her to hear you play!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!