Author: Karsemeyer, John

The Main Thing Is To Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

On this particular Saturday morning when Jed Idle awoke from one of the best dreams of his life, he had one thing in mind; one goal, one intent, one focus, one cerebral drive to reach a successful conclusion, which was, specifically, to learn a new tune on his fiddle.

His fiddle, which Jed called, “Old Lefty,” had been dormant too long. At least too long as far as he was concerned; since early in January at a giant four day bluegrass jam that was held south of the border. The border, in Jed’s mind, is an imaginary line that runs west to east, from Santa Cruz to Yosemite Village, in the great state of California.

Jed’s last name, Idle, is misleading. His lifestyle is the opposite of being idle. He is, many would say, “Too active.” Even overactive, bordering on hyperactive, occasionally venturing over the line into the land of mania (luckily that doesn’t happen often).

For the sake of preserving morning tranquility for his wife, two dogs, and neighbors (even though the closest is fifty yards away), Jed waited until ten in the morning to start his practice regimen and get to the new fiddle tune. At precisely the aforementioned time he started to lift the first latch on his fiddle case, and that is when the thought occurred to him, “I wonder who is in the line-up for the upcoming California Bluegrass Association’s Fathers Day festival at Grass Valley this coming June?” Before that thought escaped from his well used brain, he did an about face and headed for his computer.

When he got on-line he went to the CBA website in search for information about this festival. He found it without any problem, and then he thought he had better take a look at the Welcome Column, and then the Mold News, and then the message board, and then he responded to some of the messages. We all know time has a tendency to fly by when we’re having a good time, and this was precisely the case for Jed. The next time he looked at his watch it was noon.

“Time for lunch,” was his first thought. “I’ll get to that fiddle just as soon as I have a ham and cheese sandwich, an apple, a banana, and a cup of Columbia’s finest.” The problem with attaining his goal of getting to the fiddle was that Jed fell victim to PLFS (Post Lunch Fatigue Syndrome), and he soon fell into a blissful slumber while sitting upright on the sofa (the coffee from Columbia fell short of keeping him awake). The ringing of the telephone brought him out of a dream in which he was taking the stand as the first place winner at the 2013 National Old Time Fiddle contest in Weiser, Idaho.

Picking up the phone he heard, “Hey Jed, can you come over and help me change the strings on my fiddle? I have a gig tonight, two of my strings just broke, so I need help to put on a fresh set. This is an emergency man!” Jed’s buddy, “Fiddlin’ Jim,” was in a jam (so to speak), so how could Jed refuse? Jim was a great fiddler, but he hated changing strings. He loathed it. He execrated the whole process of string changing. He had even been in therapy for five years trying to figure out why, and he never solved the mystery (he blamed the non-musician therapist). “Sure Jim, I’ll be over as soon as I can.” Jed hopped into his old pickup truck and away he went.

By the time Jed got back home two hours had passed. It was a half hour to Jim’s, a half hour back, and the other hour was spent changing strings and talking about the upcoming fiddle camps that were scheduled at various venues. It was now three o’clock in the afternoon.

“Now, finally, I can get to playing on my fiddle,” Jed thought. But just then he heard a familiar voice from his wife, piercing the airways within the house. “Jed, did you remember you have to take one of the dogs to the Vet for his annual checkup?” “No dear, I forgot. What time is the appointment?” “Four o’clock Jed, didn’t you write it on your appointment calendar?” “Well I think I did, but I can’t find the dad blame thing!” “Well it doesn’t matter now Jed, you’d better put old Rusty into the truck right now and leave if you’re going to get there on time.” “Are you sure I’m supposed to do it, I thought it was your turn to take the dog in?” “No Jed, it’s your turn, you know I’m right.” “Okay, I’ll take him, on one condition.” “What is it Jed?” “I’ll do it if I can have breakfast in bed tomorrow.” “Okay Jed, it’s a deal. You can have breakfast in bed tomorrow, just go ahead and sleep in the kitchen!”

Murphy’s Law had struck again, and by the time Jed and Rusty the forgetful dog made it back home it was six o’clock in the evening. “Now, nothing, absolutely nothing is going to stop me from getting to that fiddle,” Jed told himself as he steered the truck down the long gravel driveway toward the house. “Heck, I’ll skip dinner if I have to.” The sun had just gone down now behind the mountain, and in the grey of the early evening he could see a faint glow of red, and some wisps of smoke rising into the air from his homestead.

At he got closer he could see and smell what he knew was happening. “Something is on fire!” And closer still he assessed the situation. “The bathroom is on fire!” he yelled at the top of his lungs. To make a long story short, Jed was prepared, rushed to his emergency preparedness supplies shed, and dealt with the fire in just less than forty five minutes. Things being what they were, the fire completely destroyed Jed’s bathroom, but that is all. Relieved, Jed muttered, “I got lucky, the bathroom burned down, but the fire didn’t make it all the way to the house. Oh what the heck anyway, that thing was a hundred yards too far in the winter, and a hundred yards too close in the summer.” The lightning strike had taken its toll.

Now completely exhausted, Jed made his way to bed (without supper). The fire, cleanup, calls to the fire house (telling them not to come out), debriefing with the neighbors, and the toll it took on his mental status left him in a zombie-like condition; near the state of catatonia.

“I know it’s only nine o’clock, but I’m going to bed,” he told his wife (after reassuring her that there was no more danger of fire). As he recounted the events of the day that stopped him from getting to his fiddle, and as he was being overtaken by slumber, he set his alarm clock for five in the morning. His last conscious thought was, “Tomorrow I’m getting up early, and I’ll be sawing on the strings of this here Devil’s Box before the sun comes up. The heck with the neighbors, the heck with the wife, and the heck with the dogs with the over-sensitive hearing; they’re all on their own!”

This then was Jed’s only goal for the next day. It would be his focus, his raging passion, his only thing, his main thing that he would preserve at all costs. He would do it. He would get it done. He would reach a successful conclusion. He would keep the main thing the main thing. Or so he hoped.
Posted:  2/9/2013

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