Friday, January 18, 2013

Trees, Trees, the Musical Fruit

I don't really know anything about plants anymore these days but after years of immersion in what amounts to a well-paid dork subculture (and I mean that in the best possible way), planty thoughts are understandably pervasive in my life: I slip unnoticed into Latin. I catch myself building meals around plant genera. I select bouquets for their alpha diversity.

And it's totally cool for me to do these things... when I'm at work. When they happen at not-work, welp, it's plain weird. I started plant rambling at some point over Christmas and only noticed when my sister gave me a look that said "Did you just fart?" (which temporarily gave me pause - er, did I?) until I realized the look meant "What in hell are you talking about and for gawd's sake why?" In short, plant things are not things that are discussed in polite company.

Except, surprisingly, when you're buying a guitar.

When you're buying a guitar and the portly, bald, sortof gnome-like fellow who wishes to sell you said guitar tells you the topboard is made of spruce and you accidentally say "OooOh! What kind of spruce?" (then quickly bite your tongue because you've just speech-farted a stranger and, besides, the average person on the street thinks everything with needles is a generic sort of entity known only as 'spruce'), you will be pleased to learn that you have inadvertently stumbled on The Only Right Time Ever to Ask a Plant Question in Public. You will know this because the fellow's eyes will roll back in his head and he will enter what appears to be a state of gnome rapture.

"Er, are you alright sir?"

"Ooooooohhhh, yessss! Ooohh, I'm so glad you asked! It's Sitka spruce. Most guitars use Engelmann spruce but this! This is Sitka spruce. Oh, it has such a much better sound than Engelmann!"

I tried not to look at him as if he had just farted.

"Oh, just listen to the sound of it!"

I listened to the sound of it.

"Did you hear it?"

"Um... yes. What a lovely sound it has, thank you."

Which got me thinking, as I drove home with my new guitar in tow: if a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear what species it was?

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