Benjamin Franklin had every minute of his life planned out. Everything scheduled, from morning to night, and it was all work, work, work, and political philosophy, and steering the course of human events, and trying to date all of Europe.
Which is why he was always pissed:
I want to be like Ben, minus the face, the philandering, the attitude, the politics, and the human events stuff. What I mean is, I’m a big fan of schedules, of using every minute of the day well.
Which is why I’ve started playing the flute while I pee.
I do this for several reasons.
One: I got a flute. Bamboo in the key of D.
Two: I got another flute. Penny whistle. Also D.
Three: I got a third flute. Penny whistle. C.
Four: I noticed that while I peed, I was only doing one thing. Lazy. I could feel Ben Franklin’s disappointment.
Five: I wanted to flute, but I didn’t have time.
So now, I do what my family affectionately calls “Pee-fluting.” If you hear the lovely tinkling sound of a flute in my house, you know what I’m up to.
Correct: I am making waste and music at the same time. A paradox? A very complicated man?
I pee for three reasons.
One: I drink an incredible amount of water because I fear kidney stones, and I’ve heard water defeats them. I fear these stones because women have said to me, “I’ve had babies, and I’ve had stones. Kidney stones are worse.” This is one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever heard. For a long time I thought I was safe from giving birth because of my male parts, but now I know I’m not safe. A little diamond-barbed baby lurks in my tubes, eager to give me pain that my father (who feels no pain) has described as “Unbelievable.”
Father, I believe. I do believe in urethral diamond babies. I do I do I do I do.
Two: I can’t think well with pee in me. As the pee rises, my cynicism rises. Nothing is good anymore. The world is without beauty. You are right in your guess: Pee ruined all three Hobbit movies. Through my pee-colored glasses, all politicians are cannibals; pastors are insurance salesmen; Santa invented sweatshops; love is ash; puppies suck; and hobbits blow. I have to pee, or I’ll never see magic in the world again.
Three: I pee because I want to flute.
I can now play the following songs:
- “Auld Lang Syne”
- Howard Shore’s “Concerning Hobbits (The Shire)”
- “May It Be” by Enya (Fellowship Of The Ring)
- “My Heart Will Go On” — Titanic (in the key of Celine)
- Some of the theme from Star Trek: First Contact
- “She’s Always A Woman” by Billy Joel (but only the part of the song where she’s a jerk)
I can also play several hymns.
It feels strange to play hymns and pee at the same time. It feels like peeing your pants in church, which feels like the dreams I’ve had of doing just that, dreams that begin with me flying and visiting Hogwarts and blowing up the Death Star by dropping a match down a thermal exhaust port and end with me peeing in church.
These are the hymns I’ve learned to play while pee-fluting:
- “Because He Lives”
- “How Great Thou Art”
- “Amazing Grace”
- “Just As I am”
- “Be Thou My Vision”
This last one is my father’s favorite hymn. I dream of playing it the next time we meet.
The Family Christmas Concert
I imagine the whole family is there, like in Christmases of yesteryear, when we all could be together. There is a lull in the laughter and cheer, and my father’s eyes wander to the fireplace where he stares at the glowing warmth and sighs happily.
Just you wait, my father.
Before the conversation swells again; before the stories and laughter return, I’m standing. I am standing in the midst of my family with my flute exposed. They didn’t know I had a flute. Now they know. And I am playing a song they all recognize, but my father knows it best. It is his song, the one that always brings tears to his eyes, the one that is bringing tears to his eyes now as I play it hauntingly while darkening the front of my pants.
I’m not sorry. It’s the training. This is how I do. If you want beautiful music from me, you’ve got to take everything that comes with it.
My entire family takes everything that comes with it, sighing happily while I play and release. Some sing. Some sway. Some, like my father, close their crying eyes and thank God for me.
All this to say, make a schedule. It will help you find your passion. Then practice your passion. And then, whatever the consequences, no matter how unforgettable or shocking or aromatic the consequences, go for it.
Because you’re an American.
And Ben is watching.