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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Responsibility and Iced Tea

Place: second place in Contest - November Blues

“So who do we sign, folks?” asked Dave Blackman, an executive from Blind Records.

Julia spoke up first.  “I liked the donkeys on the drumset, so they get my vote.”  This got everyone chuckling until Julia’s expression showed that she was serious.

“Come on, Julia, what about the music?” asked Dave.

“Well, I can’t compare blues to elevator music.  They’re in two different categories.  In some moods, I’d like Cool Tap best because they’re very relaxing, and in other moods, Ludwig’s guitar could really distract me from anything I didn’t want to think about.  They’re both very good.”

“I haven’t heard anything original from Cool Tap,” said Jamie.  She looked to Dave to see if hers seemed like a good reason to choose.  Dave was staring at a salt shaker.

Jamie’s boyfriend, Lee chimed in.  “Well, Ludwig’s stuff isn’t all that original either.  I mean, he’ll start out with a nice African rhythm, but by the end of it, the rhythm has died out because he’s playing around with European melody.  It’s just confusing.”

Dave tapped Chris’ foot.  Chris was Dave’s intern and this was a signal they had worked out to neutralize any banter.  “But sometimes that sounds good,” said Chris, grasping.  “He never confused me.”

“Look, you guys, I was hoping you’d just tell me who you liked better.  If you have a long discussion about it first, I’m not going to get honest results.  Fred, what did you think?”

“Well…” Fred sucked more iced tea through his straw.  The fact was, he liked Ludwig better, but he didn’t feel qualified to make a decision for a big record label.  “Do I have to answer now?”

“Your answer is buying you the dinner that’s about to be served,” Dave pointed out.

Fred looked to Julia who was his girlfriend.

“He liked Cool Tap better.  We both did.  Honestly, I think there’s more to it than the donkeys, but who knows?”  Fred was looking at Dave’s salt shaker now.

“Yeah, I don’t think we can use that,” said Chris.  “I’m here as a tie-breaker, and I know which way I’d go if I have to vote, but really, we need Fred to explain his decision on his own.”

Two servers showed up and started asking who ordered what.  A plate of spaghetti fell and splattered Dave’s shirt.

The flustered, apologizing server mentioned that the restaurant had extra shirts just in case this happened.  Everyone stared at her.  “Really, we do - it’s free - What size are you?  I can also get you a baggie of stain preventer so the stain won’t set.”

Dave got up, red faced, snatched the plastic wrapped shirt and stalked off to the bathroom.

“I’ll have someone bring you that baggie…” called the server after him.  An awkward silence developed as they watched her walk away.

“Extra shirts - who knew?” said Chris.

“You liked Ludwig better, didn’t you?” Fred asked Chris.

“I don’t know.  I mean, Even if I had decided already, I couldn’t tell you.”

Lee laughed loudly.  “You just said you already knew which one you’d pick.”

Chris grinned and blushed.  “So I did, yeah, well, I can’t say til Fred votes.  You guys are split, right?” he asked, pointing to Lee and Jamie.  They nodded, smirking at each other.  They had already bought Cool on Tap by Cool Tap and November Blues by Ludwig.

“Well, that means I get to break the tie,” said Fred.  “I can’t believe I have to decide.  I don’t even know those people and now their futures are in my hands.”  He looked to Chris for help.

Chris refused to speak.  He considered eating.  His food was getting cold.  He wasn’t really hungry now though.

“If I pay for my own dinner, can I just leave?”  Fred asked sheepishly.

“That’s not cool, dude,” said Lee with a mouth full of food.  He swallowed quickly and added “Why can’t you just tell them which one you liked better?”

“I don’t know.  It doesn’t seem right for me to decide.  I thought this would be easier.  It’s like a hundred thousand dollar contract, right?”

He picked up his fork and joined the others in eating while no one answered him.

Chris watched the others and worried about what Dave would say.  When he finally decided to start eating, Dave was back in a cheap white shirt and had a ziplock bag filled with cloth, spaghetti sauce, and clear bluish liquid.  “Ok, Julia and Lee liked Cool Tap, and Jamie liked Ludwig.  Fred?”

Chris looked at Fred pleadingly.

“I…,” he started, but his mouth was full, so he chewed slowly. The others stopped eating to watch him.  It was very hard to swallow.

“I… I…”  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  “I liked Ludwig better.  Cool Tap is great though…”

“So it’s a tie!” Chris interrupted.  “I liked Ludwig better too,” Chris beamed.

“Great!” said Dave, “I have to thank you all very much.  I know it was hard not to discuss the various qualities of these artists, but I think this worked out very well.  Feel free to talk about them now.”

Permission from Dave was all they needed.  The rest of their meal, dessert afterwards, and drinks at the bar were filled with discussion not only about jazz, but other music, Jamie and Lee’s plans for after they graduated, Julia’s own guitar playing, and, finally, an admission from Chris and Dave.  Chris went first, emboldened by his drink.

“I think Fred knew who I liked better.  I’m sorry I screwed it up.”

“Yeah,” said Dave, “I knew he knew you liked Ludwig better.  You kinda over did it with Lee.  You gotta challenge way more subtlely.  But Fred sweated enough to show that his answer was honest.”

“You gave me too much power,” said Fred.  “I guess everyone should experience that at some point.  The problem is that if it turns out wrong…  It’s my fault.  At least that’s how I feel.”

At the same time, Dave and Chris said “But if it turns out right…” and everyone laughed.

November Blues made Ludwig rich and his life was made into a movie after he died from a drug overdose.  The three children of the founding members of Cool Tap, who had broken up to get married and have kids, all worked for the production company.

Posted by Dave Scotese on 11/16 at 11:54 PM | Permalink
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