Sperling W. Alter, M.D.
I got a an e-mail today from a fellow who wants to study medicine and bluegrass music. His name was Sperling Alter, M.D. and he is from Cambridge England, specifically some little hamlet called Grinton.
Can you imagine that? As it turns out, he was already scheduled for a year long physician exchange program at Sandhills University, and since I went to school there, they referred him over to me. Now this ain’t too surprising, ’cause the school always calls us when they cater BBQ and need a bluegrass band. I’m sure they didn’t even have another solid lead other than Dr. Bibey so we always get the gigs.
When Alter called, it was apparent he had done his homework on me, as he had already read the blog. He said over in England there was some question as to exactly who Dr. Bibey was, or if he was even real.
I remembered my English teacher in the 11th grade. On the very first day of class, she asked, “Tommy, who are you?”
As far as I was concerned, it was still summer, so I wasn’t ready to crank up on thinking yet. I still had baseball on my mind.
I was confused. Why would a woman ask me that? She knew who I was. “Well, Ms. Rogers, I’m Tommy Bibey. You know that. How come would you ask me such as that?”
“No, Tommy, I mean who are you really?”
“Why, I’m Tommy Bibey. I live over on Peach Street.” Now I was really mixed up. I looked around the class to gather support. “All y’all know me- I’m Tommy Bibey. What the heck is she asking me that for?” They seemed to agree.
The old English teacher smiled. “This year, Tommy, I want you to learn one thing- I want you to learn who you are.
So when Sperling Alter asked me if I was real or not, this time I was ready. I looked in my wallet and read my driver’s license to him. “Tommy Bibey, Peach Street. Live two doors down from where I grew up. Ain’t changed a bit, ‘cept now I’m a Doctor.”
As it turns out, though, this may prove to be a very fortuitous circumstance. Turns out Alter is a writer, and wants to learn all about bluegrass music in the Carolinas. I believe me and Sperl might form us a partnership. I know ’bout bluegrass music, and have always liked books, and he is a professional writer.
Alter told me if I kept dangling all my participles out in the wind like what I was doing, and running on like all that, I’d never get anything published. I’ve heard that before, both from English teacher friends and my exasperated agent, so I’d better listen. It’s like Jerry Clower used to say- if you hear it twice it’s scripture.
And Tommy Bibey is for real- I just checked my driver’s license. It’s me, alright.
bluegrass characters, mini-posts