Last year I started looking for a new hobby.
Here’s what I seriously considered:
So maybe I had been listening a little too much to The Devil Went Down to Georgia, but I would very much love to play a fiddle. I could see myself pulling out the fiddle and playing while someone is stomping a foot and people are clapping along. And there’s hay, lots of hay. And we’re in a barn. And I look really good in a prairie skirt, so you know it’s a fantasy, because in real life, I don’t look good in prairie skirts.
The thing is, in my little fantasy, I’m able to pick up the fiddle and play a tune without music and to improvise.
In real life, I can’t do that.
As a kid I learned the clarinet and piano and loved it. Loved it! Practiced for hours and hours every day. But I don’t have an ear for music. I cannot improvise. Every now and then my clarinet teacher would say, “Play the music and add extra flourishes.” And I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t being shy. I just couldn’t figure out what to add. I still can’t do it.
Nix the fiddle. If I get the urge to create some music, I can pull out my old Lionel Richie sheet music. Yeah, my teacher was hip. I play a mean rendition of the Easy Piano version of “Hello.”
Ok. So, I can’t pick out chords on a violin, but there are no chords on a drum.
Drums were a real contender for my new hobby. My friend John–remember him? The one who put those hand exercise things in his mouth and got them stuck? John plays the drums and years ago he let me play on his drum set and I loved it. The weight of the sticks, the way you had to move both your arms and legs to play the instrument, how you could feel the reverberations from the sticks and foot pedals. Loved everything about it. And I have an appreciation of a good drummer in a song: the way they add those little flourishes that build anticipation: shslhslhslhsl…Bang! and the way the drum can drop out of a song for a beat or two and then come back in. Oh, it’s a beautiful thing.
But honestly? A drum set? Where, people? Where? I could put it in the basement, but buying a set (kit?) of drums sounded kind of expensive and would take years upon years of study before I’d be good enough to play with anyone.
I dunno. Drums are still a possibility, but are shelved for now.
I have long been convinced I could be pretty good at photography if I took the time to actually learn it. I used to work hard on getting interesting angles in my pictures, from up high, down low, etc; and I practiced different ways to frame my subject and looked for patterns…all those sorts of things.
But I didn’t know how to make the camera do what I knew cameras should be able to do.
And then my church started a Photo Club. I’d see in the church bulletin:
“Photo Club, next Saturday. Bring your camera and manual. Call Scott for details.”
Well I had a camera, but a manual? I dunno where my manual is. So I didn’t go for a few months. But I finally found the manual, and showed up for Photo Club and they were all so serious and Scott was entirely too tall and very intense. Not so sure I like this…but they showed me some interesting things on my camera.
So I figured it was only polite to go back, at least once, since they spent a lot of time teaching me stuff in the first meeting. And at the second meeting they taught me a little more, but they were still so serious. I tried making a little joke and they just stared at me (cricket, cricket, cricket). Ok. No jokes with these guys.
But I went back one more time, just to be sure, and they kind of loosened up a little bit and joked with each other, so I told another joke but they just stared at me (cricket, cricket, cricket) But at least they were joking with each other.
So,I gave it one last shot because I was learning a lot. And this time, I was tired of them not getting my jokes, and all their seriousness, so I started making fun of Scott. And it just so happens that Scott loves it when people make fun of him. Really–just scroll to yesterday’s blog and you’ll see.
So everyone finally stopped being so serious, and they started to get my jokes, and I was in the club. You all know the rest of that story.
4. But there was one other hobby that I seriously considered, equally with photography. The only reason I decided to go with photography was that I already had the camera, and Photo Club is free.
But if I didn’t already have a camera, then I may very well have gone with this one: Guns.
I was an abject failure in P.E. in school. (Remember this story about dodge ball? One of my finer pieces of writing.) Until the very last year and the very last unit.
The very last unit of the very last year was archery. Nothing fancy. Just little bows and arrows. Put on the arm protector thingee, set the arrow, pull back on the string…aim…release.
And I was good at it. I mean, I was really good at it. The best in the class, except for that one boy who went bow hunting with his dad. And it got me to wondering whether I’d be any good at aiming guns.
And why am I telling you this?
Because it leads up to the Picture of the Day.
I went to two graduation parties today. One for Heather, who is also known as “Hey” if you read Vince’s guest blog:
And one for TJ:
And at Heather’s, I arrived and immediately pulled out Alex (my camera) and started taking pictures of everything in sight. The food, the people, the flowers. I’ve fallen over the edge and have gone from being shy about taking pictures in front of people, to be utterly obnoxious about it, and taking pictures non-stop at every event I go to.
So, Andy, who I met today for the first time, was sitting next to me and making small talk about cameras and I told him they were my hobby.
And he said that his hobby was guns.
In fact, he was carrying his Glock .45 with him right then and there at the graduation party. “With you?” “Yup.” “You have it right now?” “Yup.” “Can I see it?” “Yup.” “Can I hold it?!” Yup!”
So, for about an hour, I was in gun heaven, because Andy is as obsessed with his guns as I am with my camera. He showed me the holster and the extra things for the bullets (I don’t know the jargon), and he even taught me how to hold the thing. Not loaded, but still! A little taste of what my life could have been like, if I’d chosen guns over photography.
Andy teaches me how to hold the gun:
Me and the Glock:
Can’t you totally see me pursuing this hobby? But where am I gonna drum up another $600 for the gun and more money for ammo and accessories? Gun club membership fees…license fees… I can’t afford more than one hobby at a time.
But as I left, Andy said, “So…you think you could make some money on your photography?” I told him that maybe in a number of years, perhaps. And he said, “Because if you start making money on photography, you could afford a gun.”
Oh, Andy! I like the way you think!