I believe it 'twas a Tuesday (March 6th, to be exact) that Earl decided to get off his duff (large and comfy though it was) and get his proverbial feet wet in the enchanting pool of classical music. Sure, he had wanted to go to the philharmonic's Unplugged show on Friday March 2 at the local Embassy Theatre but Earl had an aversion to multi-media presentations ever since the slide projector incident in fifth grade. Not to mention that pesky court order that prevented him from getting within one hundred yards of Melissa Long. So a Tuesday it was that he trundled off to south Side High School for a free neighborhood concert. Being a frugal Hoosier, he didn't want to pay for something that he might not like, so free was good. They played a number of pieces, some with the members of the South Side orchestra and chorus but Earl found himself enjoying Hungarian March from The Damnation of Faust. Truth be told, Earl just got a big kick out of a "swar werd" in a classical concert and spent most of the piece thinking about goulash. He also enjoyed watching Bryan Parkhurst, runner-up in the Young Artist competition wail away on the harp. As far as Earl knew, harps were only used in blues music and didn't have all those strings, but hey, he was trying to be open minded.

Having enjoyed the neighborhood concert so much, Earl decided to take another dip to see if perhaps his inclination towards this music was more than just the result of an anchovy and balogna sandwich. He consulted the Fort Wayne classical music calendar on the classicalgas.tripod.com web site, downloaded a few choice pictures of Daisy Duke, and found that lo and behold, there was another free concert on Sunday the eleventh. Sure it was a childrens concert and he had no kids (he always wondered what his life would have been like had he accepted the proposal of Erma Jean Downs, bearded pickle queen of East Antwerp) but he had a nephew. So on the appointed day, Earl pulled up to his sister's house in his '83 Gremlin to pick up Hank. He didn't remember Hank being this tall. Or this pierced. But Earl had the bug and wanted to hear some more of that live classical music... bad. After some gentle pleading and a small cash transaction Earl and Hank arrived at The Embassy in time to hear the "Hooba-Doobah Dance" by local sixth grade composer Andrew McNamara. The philharmonic also played a movement from the second symphony by Tchaikovsky which Earl found quit enjoyable, though to this day he still couldn't spell "Tchaikovsky" even if you threatened to put a live ferret down his pants. As they drove home, Earl learned how to belch the lyrics to some song about "Nookie" and the world became a little better place.

Almost an entire week went by and Earl was starting to get the itch again. He tried various ointments and liniments but he knew they were useless... he was going to have to hear more classical music. Luckily for him there was a Chamber performance that weekend (Saturday the 17 for those of you not paying attention). But what's this? They're playing with the Fort Wayne Ballet? As a red-blooded, beer drinking heterosexual male, Earl had never been to a ballet and never intended to. Still, he suspected that a certain female trombone player he had spied last week would be there and Earl liked a woman with overactive salivary glands. So disguised in a clean shirt, Earl attended, and enjoyed, the performance even though his mystery trombonist was nowhere to be found.

Earl spent the next week quieter than normal, thinking about classical music, processed cheese food, and trombones. Occasionally he scratched himself. When Saturday the 24th came around, he was good and ready for some live music and chose to attend the Masterworks performance of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. During the previous week he had watched Fantasia 2000 so not only was he familiar with some of the music that would be played that evening but he had also decided to change his name to Gershwin, Gersh for short. He was ready for Respighi's Pines of Rome (the whale sequence... left him wondering if being hit by plummetting whale excrement would kill you instantly) and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (the last piece of Fantasia 2000, a bit odd with the elk and the ash lady, but Earl, er, Gersh thought she was cute and so gave her the benefit of the doubt. Did I mention Gersh lived with his parents until his mid-thirties?). There was another piece by this Bernstein guy that GershEarl hadn't heard before but he knew that Bernstein wrote West Side Story which although he didn't recall much of the movie, remembered the music as the soundtrack to one of his less embarrassing drive-in experiences. So Earl attended. And Earl enjoyed. Then he died.

Copyright 2001 Jason Hoffman

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