I, Melvin

Already today I have been provoked to the brink of madness. As I wandered into the train station at the start of my morning journey, I thought I heard the strains of “The Star Spangled Banner,” but in a manner so devoid of musical talent that I thought a wee child must be having his way with a recorder. As I descended the stairs, I saw that it was in fact a gentleman of competent mental age wielding a fife.

He gamely struck up an off-key attempt at “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” I clenched my fist and rolled my eyes heavenward, debating what to do. Should I club him dead where he stood with my umbrella? Should I offer him money to stop playing until the train came? I feared that either approach would lead to an unpleasant discussion on the nature and quality of my patriotism, so I slunk away. I may indeed be a patriot, but I am no nationalist, and there is nothing inherent in the meaning of patriotism about suffering through the abuse of the Western musical scale. Just try telling this to the Ashcrofts among us.

Then he lurched into an utterly tuneless rendition of “Greensleeves,” followed by a dissonant take on Pachelbel’s Canon. All bets are off, I thought, I owe it to myself and the rest of the populus to strike him dead. The train was approaching at long last, and the hapless fool began to tweet his way through “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” I lunged viciously, but was restrained at the last second by a burly buffoon wearing a fleece vest that read “Pro Player.”

And you sir, you are a professional at what endeavor? Balding? Overeating? The wearing of stone washed DENIM? I hissed and narrowed the pupils of my eyes like a lizard, and he released me from his grasp as if burned. I dove into a waiting car and stalked to a seat, only to be displaced by an immensely fat woman.

I sulked all the way to the terminus of my route. I wasn’t even able to delight myself with my favorite game of imagination, wherein I script little cards bearing grooming and sartorial advice to be handed to the other passengers.


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