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Playing life by your own tune

Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Anythinkinappen, a prince of a man, named Anyjoe, went off to college to seek his fortune. He studied very, very hard and earned a degree in photography. But, as in all fairy tales, somebody wicked convinced him he had no gift for taking pictures of flowers from odd angles.

Consequently, Prince Anyjoe, downhearted, aimlessly drove his worthy steed across the countryside, ending up at an army recruiting office. He joined, hoping to fulfill his royal destiny.

At basic training, while in drill formation, Anyjoe's sergeant called him forward. "Sir, yes sir!" shouted the recruit, wanting to survive this encounter with as few push-ups as possible.

"What instrument do you play, plebe?"

"Instrument, sir?"

"Don't mock me boy. Drop and do 50."

After counting out his punishment, the lad regained his feet and took his place in line.

"I didn't tell you to step back in line," the officer gruffly coughed. "What instrument do you play?"

"Sir, I don't play an instrument, sir," Anyjoe replied, feeling confused.

The sergeant stomped heavily toward Anyjoe, until they stood nose to nose. "Don't play games with me boy," he barked, sending spittle onto his prey. "You would rather have your fellow swine here think you're a band geek than have me up your hindquarters for the duration."

"Sir, yes sir!"

Later that day, after running 25 miles (five extra for insubordination), he visited, as directed, the major general's office. "Sit down, son. We seem to have a little problem. You didn't indicate on your application which instrument you play." Then the major general leaned forward and took on a menacing timbre, "You know, it's a violation of military policy, worthy of court marshal, to lie to a commanding officer."

"Yes, sir. I don't play an instrument, sir. I don't understand why everyone keeps asking me, sir."

Continuing, the major general held up official papers. "I have the results of your army aptitude test. You scored off the charts, genius level, on musical ability. How do you explain that?"

"I can't, sir." Prince Anyjoe now feared an accusation of cheating. But something even worse happened.

For the next four years he peeled potatoes and pulled KP.

On his leave time, however, Anyjoe studied the saxophone. Due to his government issued musical acuity, he learned rapidly and soon mastered the brass piece, beyond his instructor's wildest expectations.

Anyjoe became an adult prodigy, surpassing the skills of jealous royal minstrels, who spent their whole lives studying music to develop barely equal expertise. Soon, he jammed with a jazz band that could swing like the queen's meow and got gigs all over the kingdom.

Upon discharge, he met with the major general for an exit interview. "Have a seat son. I have the obligation to ask if you'd like to re-enlist. It's a good life with excellent benefits. If you stay on, I could see about advancing your rank. Perhaps you could supervise the potato peelers."

"Thank you, sir. The army has been good for me. I found myself here."

"Ahh, yes. We do have a way of molding people into being all they can be."

"Yes, sir," Anyjoe said. "And I'm going to be a professional sax player."

"Uh, yeah. About that music thing. I'm also charged with telling you that an audit revealed your test results were flawed. In fact, you have no propensity for music whatsoever. Son, you have an uncanny talent for photographing flowers at peculiar angles."

Prince Anyjoe left the army and played his sax happily ever after in the Kingdom of Mindovermatter.

Web posted on Wednesday, March 1, 2006

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