Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)
TITLE: NINETY SECONDS AND A PLATE OF SPAGHETTI
By James Brown
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“She should have stayed home,” Amos said. “I tell you, she has no talent whatsoever.”
“You say that about everyone. Can’t you come up with something more original?”
“Well la ti da. Look who’s talking.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that you always say she can’t cut it.”
“Well she can’t,” Sue said. “I’ve lost count of how many times she’s quit this month alone.”
“And you have been there every time to remind her, haven’t you?”
“About as often as you remind her she stinks.”
“Hey, will you two be quiet? I think she’s about to start.”
The first notes flitter above the crowd, shrieking as if mortally wounded. Hands cover ears. Teeth clench in anguish.
“What’d I tell you? No talent.”
“I give her two more minutes before she gives up. What do you think Stan?”
“I think her genre is wrong. She should be playing the blues.”
“Pop, blues, classical. It doesn’t matter if she has no talent. She should quit while she’s still ahead.”
“Giver her ninety seconds.”
“Why do you guys always put her down?” Hanna said. She stood up and addressed the group. “It’s not her fault. She tries to practice, but something always interrupts. Doctor visits, soccer practice, housework, her job. What do you expect? You know she does have a life apart from those black and white keys.”
“Then she should go on with her life and forget playing.”
“Another country heard from,” Amos said. “I suppose you have something to add to the conversation Hank?”
“Now that you mention it, I do. What makes her think that anyone is interested in her playing? Look at all the other artists in the world. She’s just a tiny voice among millions.”
“Well, you’re here,” Hanna said.
“That’s because I thought there was going to be some food after the show.”
Tones mellow into recognizable patterns. Fingers settle down and strike the keys with confidence. Toe taps to the music.
“Hey, that’s not bad,” Jessica said. “But I’ve heard a song similar to this. Can’t she play something original?”
“Isn’t that what I just said? What makes her so special?”
“Nothing, because she has no talent.”
“And she quits at the first sign of trouble.”
“Can’t you let up on her,” Pam said. “It’s not easy performing like that. Think of the pressure on her. I know I’d never be able to get up on that stage.”
“And she shouldn’t either,” Aaron said. “Hyenas sound better than that. Her technique is all wrong. See how stiff her back is? Her shoulders are as taut as a bowstring. Look at her hands sitting on the keys. They should be above the keys with the tips of her fingers lightly stroking them. It’s no wonder she can’t play.”
“Hey guys, I was right on the money. Ninety seconds are up and she’s quitting.
Sarah slams her laptop shut and throws it across the room.
“What ever made me think I could be a writer? Anytime I start, a crisis occurs and takes me away from the computer. When I return, I can’t put two words together and have them make any sense. Even if I could, who would read them? I might as well give up and go to work. At least there, I get a paycheck.”
A disgruntled crowd disbands.
“Like I said; no talent.”
“Nothing but a quitter.”
“She should try the blues.”
“Or something original.”
“Some people can’t handle pressure.”
“Hey, I didn’t want to be here in the first place. Let’s see if we can rustle up some food. You guys like Italian?”
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