Thursday, December 11, 2003

Bebop and Burritos 101: The Exam

Today I gave perhaps the coolest final exam in the history of my college teaching career.

The "exams" in jazz combo have never been an arduous undertaking; the actual final for the class is the final major performance of the semester (usually the fall/spring concert). We are required to meet with the class at the designated day/time/place during exam week, but that's often a brief discussion of the semester, followed by a much more lively discussion of where we want to go eat. In many past semesters, it's been Jack Astor's, or sometimes before that, the Owl-Themed Home of Friendly Attractive Female Servers. But this semester, we knew it was all about the Chipotle...

Between the monthly "Bond with the Band Bashes" in Combo Too and the almost-weekly trips with Fizban and Dingus after Combo PM, we brought the home of the big burrito a ton of business this semester. Evidently, this did not go unnoticed, as a few weeks ago, the manager on duty came up to me and said "You've brought your school group here a lot, and we want to treat you to lunch or dinner." Needless to say, this was cool by me, and I suggested the exam day (today). I ran into this same manager on a weekly basis and we continued to confirm the day each time we saw each other.

Last night, when I was there with Demon Halfling, I asked for the same manager to re-confirm the day....and found out he was in Mexico this week. Uh-oh...was this gonna fall through? The cashier suggested I talk to the manager on duty that night....who also recognized me from my many trips. She said the other guy had told her about it, and we were good to go. *whew* Here I had promised everyone free burritos, and I sure couldn't afford them myself this month.

So we have a rehearsal for Saturday night's Ke Davi gig (which was frustrating, because two horns were absent and one guitarist was quite late), and then we all get ready for the food portion of the "exam." I talk to the same cashier from last night, and she's confused again. I know that last night's manager left at 3:00 today, but she was supposed to leave a note for everyone. I'm now told that I can talk to yet another supervisor. *bangs head on counter* But wait, this supervisor recognizes me too! All is well (this is the reward for being such a regular--and visible--customer).

After we finished, I was on a mission; the exam was not yet complete. For you see, Fizban and Dingus weren't able to be there, as they had a gig with "Mini-MOJO" at a Starbucks in (so I thought) Mesquite. So I get their free burritos "to go" and head south. I opt for Central-to-LBJ over George Bush just to miss all the stoplights in Rowlett, only to find a few miles later that Central is its own parking lot. No way is rush hour still this bad at it?

After waaaay too much time just sitting there, I find out that it's a bad wreck blocking two of the lanes; I pass it, and it's smooth sailing again. I get to the Starbucks only to band. Huh? This was right after Fizban had called me; he had to leave to go help his dad with a broken-down car and he wanted his burrito. I had told him I'd be there in five minutes, so where is everyone?

I call Fizban back and say, "uhh, what Starbucks are you guys at again?" Turns out it was the one on Centerville, an exit four or five miles earlier from where I was. Ack. I think I had it in my head that it was Mesquite because Dingus had said something about playing there last week, and about it being in "the opposite corner from where we sat last time." Well, I had never been to this Starbucks with the guys before, so my confusion was justified. At any rate, I got to the right one, only to find out that Fizban had bailed, so I took his place in the combo (no, not on trombone, haha). Demon Halfling and I did Mr. P.C. with the rhythm section, then Dingus and Will joined us for Blue Monk and everyone's obligatory closer, The Chicken. I didn't put this one on my list of gigs because I didn't know how long I would be there, but it was a nice warmup for the weekend (Rowlett tomorrow night, Ke Davi with the combo on Saturday, and Lakeview on Monday).

Oh, and Fizban finally came up and claimed his burrito at around 9:00; we had a nice talk about all kinds of stuff and called it a day. Anyone in college reading this could only wish that their final exams went this easily...

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