He Played What?

Another free-writing exercise from Advanced Creative Writing, written in November 2012.

Bassoons and Beauty Prizes

“Are you sure?” I asked my dad. “Grandpa played in a band.”

“Of course I’m sure.”

“Like, a rock band?” I raised my eyebrows, still not quite believing it was true.

“No, not a rock band. It was a military band. This was back during the war.”

“Oh,” I said. Trying to sound more certain than I was. “I guess that makes sense, kind of. What did he play?”

“The bassoon.”

“The bassoon?” This still wasn’t making any sense to me. “Can you even play a bassoon in a marching band?”

“I never said it was a marching band.”

“Wait, he was in a military, non-marching band? Do they even have non-marching bands?” I thought some more. “And wasn’t Grandpa in the air corps? I thought he worked on a bomber in the Pacific. When did he have time to play the bassoon in an army air corps band?”

“After the war had ended,” he was speaking very slowly at this point. “Your grandpa still had a year and a half left on his enlistment, so when he wasn’t causing your grandma trouble back at the barracks, he was practicing the bassoon with his band-mates.”

This was still sounding pretty unlikely to me, but I didn’t really have anywhere I could check out this new information. The next day, I called my aunt to verify my dad’s story.

“Aunt Eileen, did grandpa play the bassoon in the army air corps band?”

“Well, I think it might have been the bass clarinet. But yes, it might have been the bassoon.”

“Really?” I replied. “And this was after the war was over?”

“Oh yeah,” she said. “It was about the same time your grandma won that base beauty pageant.”

“What? She won what?”

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