Ross' 2000 Friday Night Poem
Tom Ross' 1998 Friday
a poem by Tom Ross (VOM, September 2000)
For years I've
had this problem, but lately it's much
The doctors call it "apnea", a subtle sort
It doesn't paralyze you, and it won't rot
out your eyes
(and if it did that kind of thing you folks
No, this condition shows itself in lonely
dark of night;
its symptoms, although pitiful, are kept
well out of sight.
When you lie down to sleep at night, if you
have got apnea,
your throat clamps shut and you don't breathe
--which ain't a good idea.
This blockage jolts you wide awake (I guess
it's just as well),
but waking sixty times a night is my idea
This kind of episodic sleep is just as good
so lately, though I'm 43, I look like 91.
is bad for my career (which could be tanking
I hardly thought that I'd stand out at Valley
of the Moon!
A festival of sleeplessness that doctors
where zombiehood is commonplace and sleeping
is for wimps!
Each day at nine the walking dead all staggered
to their places,
and tried to keep themselves upright and
not fall on their faces.
They propped their eyelids open wide to smile
and chat and play --
and yet I was the worst among them every
Those telltale signs of drowsiness the others
in my case were less subtle and were publicly
My teachers had the daunting task of patiently
a student who kept drooping, drooling, falling
down, and snoring.
So, all in all, this year I couldn't claim
to be effective;
I did, however, bring to camp my own unique
For now I see
things you don't see, I pick up new vibrations.
My life is twice as rich now that it's all
The rest of you saw routine things that made
your interest flag...
while I alone among you witnessed Martin
Hayes in drag.
It's things like that make me sorry all of
you can't see
the visions that my frazzled brain this week
bestowed on me.
And so, my strange experience of camp I'd
like to share
(I'm confident your fact-based anecdotes
The first night
Dave Surette announced that he meant to
both tuning and "some things beyond that" --
I thought, "tell me more!".
I did not understand what things "beyond
tuning" might be.
Then Rodney taught some reels, and I at last
began to see.
discovered a new tuning, which he said
comes straight from Ireland's County Dork
(located in his head).
This so-called "Dorkney Tuning" goes B, B,
E, D, F, C;
to memorize that sequence, just repeat this
Baughman's Bogus Explanation Didn't Fool
[chorus] Baughman's Bogus Explanation Didn't
Fool the Class.
Now at a ball
last night as I was entering the room,
I spotted Peter Kasin, who was dancing with
He made his partner look good, as the dancers
like to say,
but did so more by contrast than by elegant
They say that wrestling takes its toll on
even the most pretty,
and Peter's not the fresh-faced lad that
went off to the city.
If it's any consolation, Peter, you've got
more true class
than that haughty highland upstart who last
Wednesday whipped your ass.
gift for mimicry I always have admired;
her camp impersonations are consistently
But Hanneke should be aware, next time she
gets the itch,
that, in both senses, Martin's payback truly
is a bitch.
suggested Rodney borrow my own kilt,
his reasoning, I guess, was that we're similarly
On him it seemed a miniskirt, but Rodney's
(he's writing two more thank-you waltzes
in the time remaining).
decided it was time to surf the trunk,
he leaped on top; the crowd fell in and dropped
him with a clunk.
I wouldn't want to question how that man
is getting his kicks,
but I would like to know how he acquired
degrees in physics.
taught a language-class with worldwide
He taught us handy phrases for each land
Including "I have lost my wallet", "my new
shirt is white",
and "I would like to get you pregnant, hope
you're free tonight".
a workshop that took place inside the shower;
we stood in dirty water for a long frustrating
and practiced stepping into pairs of clean
while trying not to do the VOM camp-shower
In closing I
should say that though this year was very
in some ways I enjoyed the growth of my perceptive
And if, next year, I'm more prepared to take
in some fresh air,
I think I'll miss my gift for seeing things
that aren't there.
Importance of Looking Stupid
we wish that life were calm and safe and
In every day we spend on earth some risk
is always present.
As we grow up, we learn a certain rule before
Avoid all opportunities for something to
Just play it safe! Do not seek out occasions
to be brave,
and take no needless risks while you're this
side of the grave.
Some risks are unavoidable no matter what
but try your level best to hold it down to
just a few.
And so, the
world is full of those whose only aim in
Is staying far away from any failure, pain,
Their notion of the perfect life is one through
which you pass
Not knowing what it might be like to fall
flat on your ass.
They'll take a chance on certain things (say,
marriage, for example),
But if they take one risk per year, they
think that's more than ample.
And that, I
think, is where we differ, here at VOM.
In fact, it's what has saved us from becoming
just like them.
Make no mistake: we rush right in where others
fear to tread.
The type of risk we take is just the one
most people dread:
While other people take their risks with
Wall Street or with Cupid,
At VOM we take the risk of looking really
The many things
we do at camp all share a common basis:
In every case we know that they may blow
up in our faces.
We try a lot of tricky things, not knowing
if they'll work,
With every chance that we will end up looking
like a jerk.
If I try to do this step dance, will I dislocate
If I try to sing Loch Lomond, will they think
I'm doing Elvis?
If I play this tune in public will my fingers
Unfortunately, there is only one way to find
the risk is just about the same for all
Because, the higher up you are, the farther
you can fall.
Beginners may be fearful of a debut heart
But teachers know damned well this crowd
won't cut them any slack.
You make one tiny error, and they may get
up and leave
(You break a string, you drop your bow, your
socks are in your sleeve)...
you're hired to teach at Valley of the
It's August 12th, so teacher hirings need
to take place soon,
And Alasdair has called to say he needs you
in a hurry.
You say you don't know Scottish music; he
says "Bruce, don't worry!
We know your style of music from a TV show
that we saw.
I don't recall the name of it, I think they
called it Hee Haw."
What kind of masochist accepts that challenge
Would you take on a gig like that? Of course
you would! You're here!
You folks will take a major risk of public
failure any day.
It isn't that you're not afraid; you simply
do it anyway.
say you want me dancing wildly in a long
In darkness, on uneven ground, with torches
near me? Yes!"
"You're asking me to write the first tune that I
can call mine,
and play it in the fast class, after Ryan
plays his? Fine!"
"You want me slamming at the wall while hopping on
in order to express my Hang? For goodness'
sake, why not!"
Most folks are scared to sing in public;
our crowd doesn't mind it.
(The challenge of the singing class this
year was where to find it.)
Most teen-aged kids are petrified of looking
like a fool
Because someone might think that what they're
into isn't cool.
Our kids, if challenged on their taste in
music, dance, and such,
say "We decide what's cool around here, thank
you very much!"
punishment we take, each year we keep returning.
We face the risks because we know that that's
the price of learning.
We've learned that patience can wear thin
when temperatures are climbing,
So those who fart at dress rehearsals need
to hone their timing.
We've learned that public sleepiness can
make you look a fool
(Unless you like to wake up face-down in
a lake of drool).
And speaking of guitarists... we had never
A class that keeps the same hours as a chain
Well, anyway, let's drink a toast to life
lived on the edge,
And while we're at it, let us take a very
Whatever day-job you may have, whatever town
Let's all come back to camp next year, and
make ourselves look dumb.
Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle School
Boulder Creek, California
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