Friday, September 22, 2006

Give Me Back My Clarinet

Yesterday, as E and I were triking about the neighborhood (her pretending to peddle while I did all of the work), I was mentally fretting about the recent loss of her/our favorite hat. I am not certain, but fairly sure, that it was lost at a children's used clothing store, of all places. Seriously, can you think of a worse place to lose a kid's hat? They are supposedly in search of it for me, but, when I go back there today, if I'm lucky enough to find it, I'm sure it will have a price tag on it...likely priced higher than what I paid for it originally on the clearance rack at H&M two years ago. Having to buy the same hat twice...I swear there's a sermon in there somewhere.

As I was considering the fate of the hat, I pessimistically envisioned someone finding it, likely between the two clothing racks that she hid in while I shopped, and just putting it in their purse to be kept as their very own. Why you dirty thieves....


Out of nowhere, I remember Karen. The girl in junior high who stole my clarinet. As if the word "thief" was a trigger for this totally forgotten experience, the whole story came back to me...

In 6-8th grade, I played the clarinet. When I told my mom I wanted to join the band, she was said that clarinet was my only option. My mom had played the clarinet when she was in Jr. High and High School. The clarinet was not required because my mom wanted me to follow in her footsteps, but only because she didn't want to purchase or rent an expensive instrument that I may or may not play for more than a few months. The clarinet, second hand even when my mom's parents purchased it nearly 20 years prior, was housed in a distinct, gaudy green case that looked nothing like the more subtle, stylish black cases that most of my clarinet peers had for their brand new clarinets. As if having the ugly green case was not enough, my clarinet was made from mostly plastic parts rather than wood. I did not know that this was a big deal until the band director, when inspecting everyone's instruments on the first day of class, said "Ohhhh plastic!" when he opened my case.

Somewhere in the middle of my 7th grade year, when I went to retrieve my clarinet from the storage was NOT there. I informed the director who assured me that I had taken it home to practice and forgotten it. ("Um, no sir. I don't really like to practice.") He allowed me to borrow an extra clarinet for the day. The next day, I returned, and assured him that my clarinet was not at home. I suggested that maybe someone stole it, to which he replied, "Why would someone steal a plastic clarinet when they are so many nice wooden ones sitting in there?" For this, I had no answer. All I knew, was that my clarinet was gone. He allowed me to continue to borrow a clarinet for the next several days of class, but informed me that I needed to purchase a new one in the near future. At that point in my family's financial history, buying a clarinet, used or new, was not feasible. My fate as a band geek was in jeopardy.

Several mornings later, on the bus to before school band practice, I happened to glance back at the seat that Karen and her twin sister, Carol, sat in. I did a double take, because it almost looked like I saw a green something peeking out of Karen's oversized school bag. Lo and behold, Karen had my clarinet in her school bag. Karen, who had her OWN clarinet, who sat in class each day as the band director beseeched the class to be forthcoming if they knew anything about the whereabouts of my instrument, and had heard me say the day before that my days in band class were numbered.

Being less than the aggressive type, I did not approach Karen until we got into class, as she was getting out HER clarinet for class.

"Ummm, Karen...I think I saw my clarinet in your bag?"

Karen insisted that it was not mine. In fact, she didn't even have another clarinet in her bag. She didn't know what I was talking about, and could I please get out of her way because she could not see the board.

Thirty minutes later, when we all took a drink break, we returned to the band room. One of the trumpet players shouted, "Hey Julia, is that your clarinet in the Lost and Found?" And there it sat.

I never said another word to Karen about my clarinet, nor did I never not think about it every time I saw her at school for the next 5 years. I'll never know why she took it. Perhaps she just did not like me. (Perish the thought!)

But the other day, I noticed a reasonably large scratch on the side of our truck. It looks like someone might have taken a key to the side of our vehicle, and I'm only left to wonder...

Karen, are you out there?

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