The Roving Pharmacist

Banjo-playing and drug distribution...

Saturday afternoon a retired musical couple I've known for years hosted their monthly old-time music jam. I try to attend John and Marcia's jam, but sometimes I just don't feel like driving thirty miles. This Saturday I did, but it made for a full day. I ate breakfast in Bisbee with my son Tyler before he flew back to Germany, then I hung out at the Farmer's Market for a couple of hours, where I talked with several friends and my dog Dingo encountered many other dogs.

The jam starts at 1:00 and I had an hour or so to kill. I thought it would be fun to walk for a mile or so on one of the trails along the San Pedro River. The San Pedro House, where the trails start, is on the way to John and Marcia's place near Hereford.

It was quite soothing and pleasant to walk under the deep-green canopies of towering cottonwood trees. The river itself, despite the recent early monsoon rains, was reduced to unconnected pools. It'll be flowing again before long.

I had intended to take the "short loop" walk, which is just a mile and a half or so. After all, it was nearly noon on a hot July day. I missed a crucial fork in the the trail and my walk turned into a four-and-a-half mile hike. The last half of the hike was along a featureless stretch of an old rural dirt road bordered by mesquites. I thought "Hell, I could have done this at home!"

Then my dog Dingo found a mud-hole and squatted right down in it, bathing her belly and squishing back and forth. I was annoyed, as soon that dog would be in the back seat of my SUV! Oh, well...she was enjoying herself.

Dingo and I arrived at John and Marcia's place at one o'clock PM. Dingo knows that place and I turned her loose. The dog's belly and legs were coated with semi-dried mud and she kept trying to get into John and Marcia's immaculate house every time a new musician arrived -- she's a social dog!

I knew all of the musicians, and soon we were playing tunes. Then a new musician showed up, a clawhammer banjo player from Tucson. As she entered with her instrument Dingo tried to sneak in with her.

"No, Dingo! Out!"

Marcia and I shooed the dirty dog back outside.

The banjo player, whose name is Jennifer, joined in as we cranked out tune after tune. After a while she said:

"Hey, Larry, could I come over and sit by you so I can hear what you're playing better?"

"Sure, no problem!"

She was playing finger-style clawhammer banjo with no picks. It's so much fun to play with someone who plays at about my level! She knew all of the tunes, one result of playing at concerts all over the country with her ex-husband, another fiddler.

At this jam Marcia rings a bell at about 4:00 and we sit down to eat for a while. The jam is supposed to be a pot-luck, but I never bring any food. I'm doing good just to get there! Marcia cooks a good meal and I'm grateful for that!

Jennifer the banjo player sat down next to me at the table. Once my hunger had been assuaged a bit I asked her:

"So what do you do in Real Life?"

"I'm a roving pharmacist for CVS. You see, CVS has to be open 24/7 so that when someone is released from a hospital, at whatever time of day or night, they can get their meds. I fill in for CVS pharmacists who are exhausted, get sick, or have family emergencies. I stay in a motel for the duration."

I said "You look to be about my age. Are you thinking about retiring from your job?"

"Hell, yes, but I have another year of paying $1000.00 per month in alimony to that no-good ex-husband of mine! He has a new girl-friend, and I'm sure you know what fiddling pays!"

"Yeah, not much!"

Jennifer lives in Tucson, and I imagine that I'll encounter her again. The old-time music world is a small one!