By Mark D. Crantz
Laguna Beach. Another perfect day in Paradise, but there are strings attached. Ping! It appears that string instruments are making a come back to the school’s curriculum. Parents and teachers are thrilled by the news that soon the halls will be filled with the sound of music rather than teenage excuses. “My dog ate my homework. Here’s my dog and a scented poop bag courtesy of the Montage resort for easier grading convenience.”
But wait. Fermata. Hold that note. String instruments have spelled trouble in the past. Senators fiddled as Rome burned. Do we really want our children to become musically inclined congressmen? Or who can forget, the dueling banjos in Burt Reynolds’ disturbing movie “Deliverance”? I’m sure Ned Beatty can’t forget. Or who can forget the haunting and halting strings that precede Janet Leigh’s shower scene in Hitchcock’s “Psycho”? Certainly she didn’t forget and drew baths forevermore. Unlike other instruments, strings reverberate deeper and longer in the human psyche. Strings are a serious responsibility. We all need to take a moment and try to understand string theory before we hand off plucks to hormone-crazed teenagers.
The universe did not begin with CBS’s “Big Bang Theory.” Instead, there was an astrophysicist named Astro who found evidence that refutes this universal sitcom belief. Astro was born in the great dairy state of Wisconsin to a single mom named Jane. Jane, who was lactose intolerant, had legitimate health reasons to despise cows and everything that came from them. With little else to do in Wisconsin, Jane watched endless hours of “The Jetsons” reruns during her bed-ridden pregnancy. With the Jetsons theme song blasting instead of lamaze music, Jane quite breathlessly delivered a healthy 7 lbs., 7 oz. boy, who she named Astro. The baby had an uncanny resemblance and disposition to the Jetsons’ dog. Astro’s first scientific experiment was to relieve himself on his mother’s stomach and see what reaction he would get. He got a good one and uttered his first words, “Patent pending.” Astro was not a Momma’s boy. Astro loved cows and everything that came from cows including string cheese.
Many years later, while attending the University of Wisconsin, Astro was dared into a string cheese-eating contest by his fellow physicist nerds. With only a mouthful away from victory, Astro lapsed into a cheesy anaphylactic shock coma brought on by a latent genetic trigger of lactose intolerance. During this episodic event, the beginning of the universe was revealed to him. God is being told by his mother to tie a string around his finger so God doesn’t forget to make the universe for his fifth grade science project. He’s strongly reminded that he has only seven days left to the due date. And to be sure God is not tempted by more mundane activities his mother de-strings his electric guitar until the project is completed.
Let this be a warning to Laguna parents. Don’t be hasty. There are always strings attached. I should know. I played trumpet in my high school marching band. I took lessons from two music teachers. The first music teacher sucked on cherry lifesavers and would take my trumpet and show me why I wanted to play a string instrument that didn’t rely on a spit valve. My parents finally relented to allow me to quit the trumpet and march to my own band, a guitar. They hired a violin teacher to show me how every good boy does fine. When asked how my lessons were going, I replied just fine except I hated holding the guitar under my chin.
Good luck Laguna Beach students. I hope you have the world on a string.
Mark is a transplant to Laguna from Chicago. He occasionally writes the guest column “Pet Peeves.” His recently deceased Border Collie, Pokey, is his muse and ghostwriter.