I was teaching guitar lessons

at a mom and pop music shop

when Jack and his pop came in.

He wanted to play classic rock,

which was what I was weaned on,

so I got him into Wolf Marshall’s

Basics 1 book and before too long

he was playing “Sympathy for the

Devil” and “Jumping Jack Flash,”

etc. though he seemed a bit slow

in some ways and clearly preferred

playing Dungeons and Dragons with

a collection of nerds on the net to

practicing his minor pentatonic scales.

All in all, he was an ok kid, though his

progress was glacial, I liked his musical

taste because he smiled when I

demonstrated this or that piece or let

loose with some licks. One day he came

in ranting about what someone had said

about something Bill Gates had said, and

Though I soon steered his attention to

musical matters at hand, it struck me as

Strange that he should defend old Gates

with such vehemence, but I chalked it up

to honor among nerds. Well, it was the

year of COVID, and before long Jack

developed a nasty habit of sneezing in

that tiny lesson room, which in itself was

ok, except for the fact that he never

Covered his mouth and one sneeze hit me

across the face like a splash. I presented

him with one of the clear face shields the

owner of the place handed out, but Jack

always managed to take it off in the

middle of the lesson, sneeze up the place,

then saunter into the lesson room the very

next week like nothing had happened.

Long story short, I ended up calling

his mom and explained the matter in

a message. With much finesse, I said

that he was a great kid but might be

allergic to the cat hair on my clothes, etc.

and suggested he try one of the other

teachers. And while it wasn’t a “gas gas

gas” to have to fire him like that, at least

I’m one nerd less likely now to get another

splash of spit across my face.

— fyodor bukowski

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