to be a better musician in a better position

DOUG WAS A CELLIST WITH THE SEATTLE SYMPHONY. He was a good if undistinguished player, so he sat in the back of the cello section. It wasn’t the best situation, and he dreamed of better things—to be a better musician in a better position! But no matter how much or how often or how hard he practiced, he couldn’t seem to get any better! Still, he was reasonably content with his lot in life.

And so Doug found himself now the principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony—a better musician in a better position!

One overcast and rainy day in February, he decided to clean out the attic in the aging house in Issaquah he had inherited from his parents. His father and mother had run a family dentist business for decades, and they liked to travel during their annual vacation.

They were especially attracted to exotic locales and always returned with interesting and odd gifts and knickknacks. When Doug was a kid, they would tease him about the magic that they found in the Ancient East and Darkest Africa.

Rooting through some old boxes, he discovered what an old lamp. An old tarnished lamp. He smiled—who wouldn’t?—and of course he gave it a brisk rubbing.

And of course out popped a genie, just like in the fairy tales!


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Except it wasn’t a jovial genie like in the Disney cartoon; it was a ferocious Djinn wielding a massive curved sword.

A scarred, tattooed, ugly Djinn.

And scowling.

The demon looked around the room and then glanced down at the incredulous Doug.

“Well well well, O master of mine,” intoned the creature in a sibilant whisper. “You have disturbed my slumber of all these years—a sleep sorely needed. Nonetheless, you are master of the lamp, and I must grant you three wishes!”

Dumbstruck, Doug just nodded.

“All the usual restrictions apply,” continued the genie. “You do know what they are, don’t you?”

Again, Doug just nodded.

“Well, master,” said the genie, “what is your first wish?”

As content as Doug was, he didn’t even have to think about that one. “For my first wish, I want you to make me a better musician than I am now, in a better position than I am now!”

The genie smiled, “So it shall be as you wish. Go to bed and when you awaken in the morning, you will be a better musician in a better position than you are now.”

The next day, Doug’s buzzing smartphone woke him. His frantic conductor wanted to know where his number one cellist was! And so Doug found himself now the principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony—a better musician in a better position!

And for several years he was content in that position, but eventually his ambition grew. So he found the lamp and called back the genie.

“Yes, master? How may I be of service?” yawned the irritable Djinn.

Without hesitating, the principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony replied, “Make me an even better musician in a better position than I am now!”

Once again, the genie intoned, “So it shall be as you wish. Go to bed and when you awaken in the morning, you will be a much better musician in a much better position than you are now.”

This time, when Doug awoke, he found he was living in Germany and was now the principal cellist of the Berliner Philharmoniker—which was a much better musician in a much better position!

And for several years he was content in that position, but eventually his ambition grew. So he found the lamp and called back the genie.

The genie returned and said a bit sternly, “Ah, master, I was dreaming of an endless oasis filled with virgins and figs. Still, how may I be of service? One last time . . .”

And the first cellist of the Berlin Philharmonic, “I want you to make me an even better musician—in an even better position!”

This time the ancient Djinn grinned and said, “So it shall be as you wish. Go to bed and when you awaken in the morning, you will be an even better musician in an even better position than you are now.”

The next morning, Doug the cellist woke up to find himself back in his old house in Issaquah.

Back with the Seattle Symphony.

Sitting in the last desk of the second violin section . . .

 

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FEATURED IMAGE: “When John Sharp (above) was appointed as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s principal cellist in the spring 1986, he already had served three seasons in the same post with the Cincinnati Symphony and played for a year with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. [John] was just 27, one of the youngest musicians ever appointed to a top position in the orchestra.” (CSO Sounds & Stories)

I found the fabulous illustration of the Djinn above on a Pinterest page with no artist credit.

Finally, this joke is dedicated to my favorite superhero, Dr P, and his trusty sidekick, the inimitable Joyrenie . . .



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