Archive » June 1, 2006
By Ernie Witham
IN SEARCH OF FAME
Somewhere between the dreams of becoming a world famous athlete, a world famous underwear model, a world famous stand-up comedian, and a world famous screenwriter, I considered becoming a world famous musician. Trouble is I’m a bit tone deaf.
“Are you okay?” my wife asked rushing into the living room.
“Huh? Yeah. Sure. I was just singing along with Chris Isaak. Man he can hit some high notes.”
“Please don’t do that. I’m tired of prying the cat off the ceiling and having the neighbors call 9-1-1.”
I sighed, put down the “Barbie Sing Along With Me” microphone, and wiped the ERNIE DOGG tattoo of my chest.
“If you’re looking for something creative to do we need bread and milk.”
I grabbed the iPod.
“And try not to get distracted this time.”
“Yes dear,” I said.
I climbed into my car and was about to put on my world famous racecar driver sunglasses when I spotted the flyer on the front seat. “Bonsai Weekend at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden,” it said, “Demonstrations, Exhibition, and Plant Sale. Plus, Taiko Drummers.”
Wow. Maybe I could become a world famous bonsai artist, showing my one-of-a-kind miniature trees from coast to coast…
“Thank you. Thank you. I created this during my minimalist period.”
“Looks like a dead stick.”
“Yes, remarkable isn’t it?”
I headed for Mission Canyon, my fingers drumming a rendition of “In-a-gadda-de-vida,” by Iron Butterfly on the steering wheel, while imaginary crowds cheered in the background.
The Botanic Garden Library, where the bonsai exhibition was being held, was mobbed. “Two’s company, tree’s a crowd, huh?” I said to one enthusiast.
He muttered something in Japanese that was either: “Ha-ha very funny,” or “I’m calling security.”
I quickly headed for the Taiko Drummers who were performing in a meadow in front of a living, growing, thatched willow hut, built by famous living, growing, thatched willow hut builder Patrick Dougherty. I wondered what his home life might be like:
“Come on Patrick, time to make the bed and prune the bathroom.”
I got to the meadow just as the Taiko leader was addressing the crowd.
“We’d like to teach you about Taiko drumming. Are there any volunteers out there who would like to try it?”
I ran for an open drum. “You don’t have an extra robe and headband do you?” I asked. But before anyone could answer we were told to take the starting position.
“Place your right arm straight back and your left arm beside your right ear.”
“How’s this?” I asked.
“Your other right ear,” he said.
I moved my thick, nunchuck-like drum stick to the other side of my head.
“Now, let’s try a practice stroke with the bachi.”
I took a mighty swing.
“Good,” he said, “but try not to throw it.”
A guy from the audience who was rubbing his forehead returned my stick. “OK, now, hit the taiko with your right hand bachi and say ‘don.’”
Seven bachis hit the drums and seven “dons” rang out, followed by me a few seconds later.
“Dooonnnnnnn,” I yelled, as my bachi hit the rim, vibrating all the way up my arm.
“Hold the bachi less like a weapon and more like a tennis racket,” he told me, "and try to hit the actual drum.”
“OK.” I took my world famous tennis player stance.
“We are going to do four singles: ‘don, don, don, don;’ four doubles: ‘don-don, don-don, don-don, don-don;’ and four quadruples: ‘don-don-don-don, don-don-don-don, don-don-don-don, don-don-don-don.’ OK. Go.”
Although the other seven volunteers seemed to be a bit off, beating me by almost a minute, I somehow made it through the routine and actually hit the drum more often than I missed it. The leader applauded and thanked us. I hesitated a second in case he wanted me to stay and perform some with the band, but he didn’t, so I headed home.
My wife greeted me at the door. “Where in the world…”
“I’ve been drumming,” I said. I took my tennis stance. “Don-don, don-don, don-don, don-don.”
“Did you at least get the bread and milk?”
“Ah, no, but I bought this.” I held up a pot. “It’s a bonsai.”
My wife sighed and headed for the store. I headed for the garage to see whether we had any sticks. The cat ran for the bedroom.
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