Thursday, June 26, 2008

I'm not crazy. At least I'm not certifiable just because I occasionally hear bagpipes.

I hear them every once in a while, droning about my house (them, not me) and it is unsettling. I usually hear bagpipes only at funerals. I suppose they help drive off evil spirits. Heck, they probably drive off mosquitoes.

I was walking to the corner gas station to fill up a can last night when I heard them again, louder this time. I was closer. I spied the perpetrator . . . um, artist: not the ghost of Squealy MacShrill at all, but one very real and decidedly not-Scottish-looking lady. She was marching—or rather, shuffling—down her driveway. You can't really march with bagpipes—you could chip a tooth.

There was another piper behind her, still in the back yard, obscured by the corner of the house. I suppose bagpipes attract each other. God knows they don't attract anything else. Such things can happen. I once tried to learn the saxophone, and all manner of while geese were honking at my window trying to get in.

So I conclude these two were playing the bagpipes on purpose. As far as I could tell, there were no dead people to drone over. I tried to wrap my brain around why someone would choose to play an instrument that only plays in one key, one chord even. Indeed, most of the pipes only play the same note, and amongst themselves then they fight over the pitch. Never mind that your job as bagpiper is to blow air into a goat bladder--this instrument is invented by the Scots, after all, who eat haggis on purpose.

Five generations ago, my Scottish ancestor Jessie Campbell immigrated to the States. I have a copy of his papers, so I know why he came: to be a carpenter's apprentice. And given my feelings about bagpipes, I suspect why he left Scotland.

I suppose I'd love the bagpipes if I tried to play them. It's like Harleys—fun to be on, not so fun to listen to.

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