February 2011

Musin’s and Thinkin’s

A Monthly Stroll Down Folksy Byways

with Jack Pendarvis

Yesterday I threw away my old harmonica. I guess it wasn’t much to look at (or listen to, some claimed!), but that rusty, broken-down “mouth harp” and I had been through a lot together. As I bade my simple good-bye, part of me was sorrowful in a way that words could never tell. Sure, it smelled awful, and when I looked closely I could see all kinds of weird stuff growing inside. Used to be a little grit and grime was considered a natural part of life. Our forefathers’ doctors never made them give up the harmonica! And then they all died of the painful, harmonica-related illnesses that ravaged the nineteenth-century countryside, and so did their doctors.

Yet as melancholy as I was about giving up my instrument, a spark in my brain told me that this could be a real Verlyn Klinkenborg moment, filled with the ember-hued, autumnal pageantry of time’s sweet decay, just the way I like it.

If I ever have a little girl, I’m going to name her Verlyn Klinkenborg. Don’t tell me you don’t know who Verlyn Klinkenborg is. Would it kill you to get up off your behind and consult Wikipedia? That’s another good name for a girl, Wikipedia is.

Or Harmonica! But that might sting too much. Probably the best thing for me is just never to have a child. I imagine that every time I called her name, I would think of my old metallic friend—don’t be scared! I am talking about my harmonica, not a robot—playing a lonesome lament at a campsite near a sparkling creek.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Jack Pendarvis has written three books.

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