The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

Writers' Showcase

The Orchestra
by Jeff Burton

The modern orchestra owes its origins to our distant ancestors. Small groups of hunter gatherers scouring the shoreline for meagre food sources would occasionally come across the enormous skeleton of a stranded whale picked clean by sea birds. Fascinated, they would climb all over the bones, rapping here and there with their clubs. The cacophony thus produced was oddly pleasing to their ears. (It is a little known fact that whale skeletons are tuned in F sharp.) In their primitive tongue 'Orca' (for 'whale') gave rise to our 'orchestra', for a group of people engaged in making noise in a co-operative manner.

Since those times, of course, whales have almost completely disappeared from the orchestra having found more lucrative employ in the opera as baritones. Distant echoes of that time can still be seen in the xylophone with its clear resemblance to rib bones.The orchestra is divided into sections, each of which pays its own cab fare. There is the wing section, home of the ducks and geese. In winter entire pieces must be struck from the repertoire as this section tends to migrate. The wind section is so named for obvious reasons. First and second baboon are particularly prone to punctuating Strauss waltzes with noisy blasts owing to their all fruit diet. The smell dissipates slowly, but not before rendering patrons in the stalls unconscious. The percussion section bears closest resemblance to our ancestors on that distant shore. Often clothed in animal skins, they continue in a tradition often handed down from father to dog of striking anything stationary with a stick, or possibly two.

At the forefront of the orchestra stands the conductor. He wants to make sure that they have all paid their fare and to assign sleeping compartments. He sweeps the air majestically with his baton but none of the orchestra see him. They are too busy reading their music or making bets. The music swells. The conductor swells. He had seafood and regrets it now. Small fires break out amidst the violins. Bravely the orchestra pushes on. The horns sound. There is a traffic jam and they don't want to be late for the ending of the piece. The music is climbing to a crescendo where it can get a better look. The triumphant final chord rings out. It sends for a pizza. The concert is over. The conductor bows. The orchestra bows. The audience bows. Everyone is so polite here.

As the patrons file out, they know they have participated in a cultural practice as old as time, or at least Uncle Phillip. Their duty to society paid, they can once again face the light unashamed. They have been to the orchestra.