The Best Damn Drummer in the World

from The Meterorite and other fables

In a busy club, in a steamy basement, in a rough little backstreet of the city – there drummed the best damn drummer in the world. And though his band was hot and his horn players cool and his bass player the ambient temperature of the room – it was generally agreed that, when all was said and done, you could only, really, actually hear the drummer.

Night after night he sat behind his drum kit, pummelling his hi-hat and tom toms: his rolls like thunder, his paradiddles gunfire, his cymbal smashes surf against a rocky coastline.

And the audience rose and cheered and whistled at the end of every number. “I’m the best damn drummer in the world,” he thought.

The drummer was reasonably paid for his work, but his overheads were high. He ran up a bar tab, ate steak sandwiches, and always took a taxi home at dawn. He liked new shirts and handmade shoes; he wore a fresh suit every night. His dry-cleaning bills were substantial.

“You should ask for more money,” his wife complained. “You are the best damn drummer in the world . . . ”

“We should ask for more money,” he told the band.

“But that’s the way it is,” they shrugged. “If you don’t like the deal, they can always get someone else. It’s not as though you were the best damn drummer in the world . . . ”

“We need to talk, about money,” he told the owner of the club.

“Later, later,” said the owner. “Maybe next year.”

So the drummer waited till the high point of the evening, when the horns and the bass and the piano were shaking the room – and it was his turn to take a solo on his drums and level the building.

He downed sticks. Stood up. The room fell silent.

“I’m the best damn drummer in the world,” he announced. “And I demand more money and better conditions.”

But the audience booed when the band walked off. His bass drum was punctured by an ashtray. The two enormous doormen bundled him into the office.

The owner was sitting there, counting cash.

“You heard what I said,” said the drummer. “More money. As of tonight. I ain’t kiddin’.”

“Hey, Grissino,” the owner replied. “You are not the best damn drummer in the world. The best damn drummer in the world makes records and tours. The best damn drummer in the world does not ruin everybody’s evening. The best damn drummer in the world does not stop playing.

“This here is a very successful joint. The audience have come to see the girls. The girls are very good – they work very hard – so we pay them. Nobody gives a scoreggio about you or your damn drums. Why do you think we never put the lights on you?

“So, I am issuing your first verbal warning. Do it again – you get a written one. Three times and we have to initiate the full grievance procedure. You may be represented if you choose to be, but may be dismissed without further payment or continuation of benefits. Capish?”

“Yes,” said the drummer – who was terribly short-sighted and had no idea about the girls. “I am so very sorry for any misunderstanding.”

Moral: And who are you playing for?

© Adam Acidophilus 2016