Halfling's parents threw their annual Christmas party last night, and I got to stay for the whole thing this year, unlike last time when I had two parties and a gig in the same evening. Even though we'll see each other quite a bit before I go to Houston on Thursday, we used the party as an excuse to do presents early.
He told me to open the two presents in a specific order, and I complied. The first one was a long-sleeved UNT shirt, which immediately doubled my stock of official regalia from my alma mater. The second one, which appeared to be a CD, had a story behind it...
A few months ago, when we saw the Yellowjackets in Ft. Worth, we only had enough money between us to buy one CD (and all the ATMs were down), so we snagged the live Mint Jam; they released it on their own label, so we figured it'd be harder to find in a store. We took it to the autograph table to get it signed, and Mintzer asked Halfling his name. That resulted in the CD being signed "To Matt," so I decided that it was only appropriate that Halfling should be the one taking it home; after all, it's not like I wouldn't get to listen to it whenever I wanted to or anything.
(I didn't think anything of it after that, but unbeknownst to me, a little conspiracy was already brewing. Best friends tend to be involved in these elaborate underground schemes to engineer some sort of cool event without the other's knowledge. In the case of me and Halfling, the best one was when I worked secretly with his parents and an old fraternity brother to snag him a Selmer Paris alto over spring break this past year. But now it was my turn to be on the receiving end.)
So when I opened up the second present last night, it turned out to be a copy of Mint Jam, signed by Mintzer, but this one said "To Kevin." Wait a minute...how did that happen when we only got one that night? Halfling told the tale:
A mere three days after the concert, Halfling went to the forums on the Yellowjackets website and contacted Mintzer, basically explaining the whole story and how he wanted me to have a autographed copy too, so if he bought another one and mailed it to Mintzer, could he sign that one to me? After many emails and snail-mails, this actually happened, and the results were sitting in my hand. I was appropriately blown away.
(UPDATE: It turns out that the CD was sitting around in Halfling's dorm room several times when I was there; I even moved it off a chair to sit down one time! Knowing that he had that autographed copy, I didn't actually look at what was written on it when I moved it, so I ended up none the wiser.)
Oh, and here's a cool coincidence: I realized, as I was listening to the CD on the computer and re-reading my post about our encounter with the Yellowjackets, that it had been exactly three months to the day from the concert to last night. Every day in September is the same day of the week as its counterpart in December, but there was more than a bit of serendipity in how this all worked out.
On the CD cover, right next to his signature, Mintzer added something in parentheses: "Your friend Matt is a good guy!" That's so true, and Bob doesn't even know the half(ling) of it...
Cuica solo! So if you're wondering what I gave Halfling...well, first a little background: Ever since the night we saw Dave Pietro's Brazilian group at TCU, Halfling has been infatuated with the cuica. It's probably the funniest-sounding of the Brazilian instruments (having originally been developed in Africa to imitate the sound of the female lion, so hunters could attract the males), but besides that, it's just cool. Halfling kept talking about how he was going to learn to play one and eventually write a big band chart featuring it. So I decided to grab the bull by the horns and give the gift of Latin percussion--a Christmas cuica, if you wish. It's a fairly small model, but it did come directly from Brazil, and he got some rudimentary squeaks and grunts out of it last night before he even got to look at the free online cuica lesson I found earlier in the week. Assuming that chart will get written someday, we laughed at the possibility of future hecklers at the Syndicate shouting out "Cuica solo!!!" the way they always shout for "Machito" nowadays.
Hookup x 3: There's probably a trip to Frisco in the offing, as Halfling's parents' present to me was an entire Trifecta's worth of gift cards--that's right, one of each from all three places! I can taste it already...
They say you have two families as you go through life: the one you're born into, and the one you choose. I'm really grateful for this part of my chosen family, that's for sure.