There was a pounding on the adjoining wall between Conor’s apartment and Ashley Davis‘s. He couldn’t help but chuckle, he didn’t know she was still in the Dallas area now that the semester was out. That “noise” was the Uilleann Bagpipe, or the Irish Bagpipe… and Conor was learning to play a new song.
There’s no sound on earth more horrific than someone learning how to play a new song on bagpipe… as Ashley was learning. Conor had forgotten to throw up his sound veil.
“That would be a bagpipe!” Conor laughingly shouted back.
He then turned to the other creature in the room with him. “Sin é anois, a mhaistir. Go raibh míle maith agat. Feicfidh mé tú amarach?”
It nodded, “Ceart go leor, slán, a Chonchobhair.” It was a creature dressed all in brown tweed wool, with skin like old polished wood, eyes of molten amber or perhaps treesap. It stood no more than 3 feet tall, and had flowing white hair as well as a wild “Abraham Lincoln” beard. It looked at the bagpipe strapped to Conor’s elbows and pointed with its finger to the “chanter” (the part with all the finger holes).
Sternly “he” snapped, “Cleachtadh, gach lá!” and then vanished from sight.
Conor chuckled, nodding. “I will, I will.” He stood up, cradling the bellows, regulators, and chanter under his arms, and … for lack of a better term… slightly ‘waddled’ towards the front door of his apartment – arriving seconds after the first knock.
As he opened the door, the pretty and petite blonde that was his neighbor (a freshman, now sophomore at SMU) beheld the contraption of wood, metal, leather, keys, and hoses that encircled his midriff.
“Wow, you were totally serious. That’s not a bagpipe! I’ve seen bagpipes.”
Conor chuckled and turned to walk back into his apartment, making no sign or gesture of welcome. Soon enough, Ashley stepped in (without even seeming to notice that she was technically not invited) and closed the door behind her.
He sat back down on his chair in the living room and started setting things back up again to play. “You’re most likely thinkin’ o’ Scottish bagpipes dear Ashley, these are Irish.”
“It sounded like you were preparing a goose for dinner. Seriously. I had just come home and was wondering what the heck, I thought my air conditioner was broken.” She was grinning as she said it, clearly intending light hearted jest, so Conor took it in stride.
“No no, the goose slaughtering was a few months back when I very first started learnin’ … ya got to miss that part. I’m trying ta learn a new song an’ it’s rather difficult so it’s sounding a bit off.”
“Ummm… so how can you tell when you’ve got it right?” Ashley’s face lit up with mirth at her ‘wit.’
Conor grinned wickedly and just pumped his right elbow to inflate the bag…
“Wow. Ok, now I’m impressed.” Ashley’s eyes were huge. “You said you only started a few months ago!?!?!?”
Conor nodded, “Well, I’ve got a really good teacher, one of the best that’s ever been.” He looked over in the general direction of one of his hall closets with a slight nod. “I thought you were off away home for the summer?”
Ashley pouted, “No, I’m taking summer classes. SMU is really expensive so over the long haul it’s cheaper to jam as many classes as I can into the summers. So I’m taking another full load instead of doing anything fun. No social life for me for… like… ever.”
Conor looked up at Ashley thoughtfully, she was clearly ‘fishing’ but a recent exchange with Belle had set him to thinking about himself and his actions of late. However, he didn’t think long… he was his Mother‘s son and it was Summertime after all. "Well you’ve got me at least!"
The blonde at his kitchen counter laughed, “Oh Conor, nobody ‘has’ you except for a few days at most here and there. You’re like the worst playa’ in Dallas.”
He nodded sagely, “This is true… though I’d say I’m the best playa’ in Dallas!”
Ashley didn’t miss a beat, “Not of the bagpipe!”
Enjoying the wordplay, “Touché!” and they both enjoyed a mirthful chortle.
“Conor, play something else. Something else you already know, not the one you’re learning.”
Ashley was quiet for a long moment after the song… “Wow, I feel sad.”
“Aye, that’s called a caoineadh… a keening… a lament. It’s supposed to be sad.”
“What’s the song about?”
Conor shrugged, “The man that wrote it calls it Cú Chulainn’s lament, he was a great hero that lived in Ireland centuries ago. His life was full of adventure… and he died well.”
“You should tell me that story sometime. I’d love to hear it.”
He began unbuckling himself from the bagpipe. “I’d love to tell it to you. Go put on your L.B.D. my dear, and I’ll tell you the story tonight, over dinner if you like. I’ll even buy… as I’m flush with iTunes money at the moment.”
“Your Little Black Dress. You’re an American girl; I know you have one.”
Ashley’s smile was radiant, “Conor, the Little Black Dress is powerful and reserved only for dates lest its powers be used for evil. Don’t call for the big guns unless you mean it. Dinner as in a date?”
It was matched by his own, “Dinner as in a date, like a social life even. Now go-on wit’ ye!”
This game was just a minor milestone, so I just wanted to play around with Conor and explain him picking up another musical instrument aside from the guitar.