"Why", my husband asks me -- not for the first time -- "Didn't you take up the whistle?"
He's surveying the quantity of goods scattered around our bedroom that I hope to cram into the waiting suitcase for my trip this evening to Dublin. I'm going to the Temple Bar TradFest, and no, it's not too many clothes that are evoking his dismay. Trad musicians don't tend to be fashion plates.
The main object of his concern is my gorgeous, built like a tank, 18" Mance Grady bodhrán. When I first purchased it from Mance, he respectfully suggested that a woman of my size -- a mere 5'2" -- might be better off with a smaller diameter drum. But nothing would do for me but the deep booming tones of the 18".
However Aer Lingus, in its airline wisdom, will not allow my baby to be brought as carry on luggage and forces me to check my lovely drum with the dirty laundry and toothpaste that inhabit the depths of the cargo hold.
I'm not typically a nervous flier, but exposing my prize possession to the tender mercies of the baggage handlers causes hives to form on my neck and I tend to drink too much on the flights on which my bodhrán accompanies me.
This isn't the first time my bodhrán has crossed the Atlantic. The last three years, it has come with me each May to the World Bodhrán Championships in Miltown, Co. Kerry. I wish it were eligible for Frequent Flier miles -- then eventually it would have a ticket for a seat right beside me, and I wouldn't have to drink that third bottle of red wine.
But I have worked out a system. Loosen the lugs as easy as they can go. The skin flops like Ethel Merman's upper arms. Cut two pieces of thick foam core to the drum's diameter. One goes on the drum head, the other on the inside of the drum by the skin. Put the drum back in it's case. Stuff all my socks and soft T-shirts and ladies' unmentionables inside the drum to pad it out to the edge of the rim and roll all my jeans and sweaters around it to try to cushion the inevitable game of Kick the Can that baggage handlers appear to delight in.
So far, so good. Each time it has arrived safely and tuned up beautifully, and I had a great time playing it in classes, workshops and pubs.
But this trip, the plane leaves in an hour and a half. (Thank you, Logan Airport, for the free wi-fi.) I've already check my suitcase (drum inside) and entrusted its welfare to Aer Lingus. My heart is racing and my palms are starting to sweat. Please please PLEASE be good to my baby.
I've ordered a 16" bodhrán from Mance. He's working on it even as we speak. That should satisfy the carry on requirements.
And bring down my blood pressure ...
Originally printed in February 2010, but the website it was on crashed and burned and is gone now.
Yes, my 16 inch drum is gorgeous (thank you, Mance) AND it fits in the overhead compartment.