Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My One-Man Band

There is this thing horn players do after having played for awhile and needing to loosen their chops. I have only heard the older ones do it, ones like me who are slowly losing elasticity in their skin. You let your lips go slack, clinch your teeth, and breath out so your face flaps. It sounds like a child playing with Matchbox cars, and it looks like this:

If we knew what it looks like, we'd probably never do it in public. Now that I know, I'll have to excuse myself from the band room the next time I need to air out my embouchure. People will think I need to use the restroom more often than the average band member, but I'd rather that than to have them see me looking like an upside down fist face and to think I'm pretending to race a miniature red tractor against a black mustang with tiny doors that open and close.

This must be one of the things that happens with age, this need to loosen up frozen parts. It's not unlike needing to shake some feeling down to my left hand if I sit wrong and cut off the blood supply. My fingers start to go numb, and I have to flap my hand to get the feeling back. The other day, I took a book (David Sedaris's When You Are Engulfed in Flames), my reading glasses, and a glass of ice water, and I sat outside in a lounge chair to read. Those chairs can configure your spine in positions not suitable for humans if the back isn't set at the right level. I thought I had set the prongs in the holders just right, but an hour later, and I was frozen in the shape of a chaise lounge.

I was able to straighten up, but my hip hasn't quite recovered, and now I lean slightly to the right. If I sit for too long or stand for too long or lay prone for too long, I have to slowly adjust each vertebrae before walking, and my hip still hurts. I complained about my sore hip the other day, and a friend said, "it's called an ass." I know what it's called, but I prefer to be slightly delicate when mentioning it. It's the least I can ask for when the rest of me is falling apart, isn't it? Is it unreasonable to claim even a slight amount of dignity when referring to things like...hips? Most of us use euphemisms to describe internal ailments—"I am not feeling well" or "my stomach is unsettled"—which mean things we don't like to discuss in public. At least I don't like to discuss them. They seem less harmful when mentioned in soft and unmedical terms.

These last few days since the lounge chair incident, every movement has its own sound effect varying from groans to gasps to mumbles of discomfort and despair. I am like a bagpipe that is being squeezed or dropped or sat on. If I were to add the embouchure loosening noise to the mix, I'd be my own one-man band. And then I would have to excuse myself every time I simply need to adjust in my chair, each time I need to ease the discomfort in, hip.


dive said...

Robyn, I think we need to hear the one-woman band in action. Hit the record button for us!

I love that photo! It looks like you're doing that lippy thing that horses do. Fun!

Rather than loosen up tight parts, these days I'm trying to tighten up parts that have got way too loose.
My chest has somehow collapsed over what was once a handsome six pack and has turned it into a something resembling an escaped blancmange.

As for my … er … hip/ass. That's just a tragedy.
Sigh …
Getting older is a whole bunch of no fun.

Rich said...

I like to blow into my mouthpiece while I'm driving to and from work sometimes. It keeps my chops in shape...just in case.

Most parts of my body move much slower than they used to and don't react as fast either. What I'd give to have my 21 Y/O penis back

MmeBenaut said...

Oh Rich, thanks very much for putting that thought in my head! Well, not thanks, exactly ...
I do sometimes read others' comments, Hee, hee.

Robyn dear - first I think you are brave posting that photo because it isn't your most flattering but I do understand that these things have to be done in the name of art.
As for your, er, hip - get thee off to a physiotherapist quick smart! Alternatively, lean slightly forward, tilt your body to the side that hurts and then very slowly go back and straighten up. That will take pressure off a sciatic nerve. Seriously though, you should have someone look at it for you.
As for the numbness in your hands - that could possibly be carpel tunnel syndrome, depending on where the numbness is - if it is only in some of the fingers/thumb for example. Alternatively, you might have a pinched nerve. Ask the physio who might send you to a neurologist. You risk permanent nerve damage if you don't get it seen to; it might not just be a case of ordinary "pins and needles". (apologies for being such a worry wart).

Pianist friend said...

Dive, loose parts...hahaha!
Yes, Rich, thanks for sharing...!
Robyn, I know about hurting backs and pins & needles. Oh the joys of getting "on in years"! And the embouchure shot is classic. Oh my!

Scout said...

Mme Benaut, isn't that picture just scary? I do exercises given to me by my chiropractor. Bending forward slightly is frightening because can sometimes activate the sciatica thing, which can be so excruciating. I do think I have a pinched nerve. Things are getting better, though.