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.

Dr. B 




Explore posts in the same categories: bluegrass characters, mini-posts

3 Comments on “Sperling W. Alter, M.D.”

  1. Pardon my droll amusement Doctor. Your “old” English teacher, (perhaps in her forties?)… was a skilled reader of the future, since she referred to you as Dr. before she knew you and before you became a doctor.

    I’m probably jumping to an unwarranted conclusion to expect your Driver’s License to read: Thomas (middle initial) Bibey. State agencies tend to be sticklers about using your entire actual full name with no diminutives, aliases or nicknames. Your actual first name could really be Tommy, and I would have egg all over my face.

    With a tip of my hat, and a gentle tug on the tassel of your title, I’ll say, I admire anyone who can get entirely through his studies in medical school, go into practice, and still even be ABLE to use words like ain’t and y’all.

    As to dangling your participles, while it is true that this is not a good policy, it is also true that one who thinks in these terms is much more likely to be a successful English Teacher or a doctor than a successful writer. It is sort of like looking up the arse of a horse to figure out if the horse is about to run a good race. While he is doing that, I’m going to be looking at the whole horse. I’ll bet my information works out for me better than his works for him.

    I have no doubt that he has been successfully published in medical journals, but if you are looking for a wider general readership, you might want to look elswhere for your writer/carpenter/collaborator. It seems to me he has two good things going for him. He avidly likes your kind of music, and he has an English accent. Unfortunately, the English accent cannot be heard in print.

    If you would like to see more of my comments about medicine or doctors or chess or other interesting subjects, or if you would simply like to needle me a little in return, you are welcome to do so on my blog, Eureka Ideas Unlimited or on Skin Cell Forum where I have in excess of 1300 comments you can nail me on, or join with me in discussion of, to your heart’s content.

    I am known as Anthropositor


    P.S Show this note to your agent. See if it exasperates him. Do have any idea how much trash an agent or an editor or a ghost writer must wade through to find a single glittering talent?

  2. Oh Gawd! I left out a word. Probably something spelled wrong too. Quite an inconvenience being too blind to proofread. Proofreading is something that was done before blogs, but now seems to be largely dying out. (Actually the use of proofread in this context is not precisely correct.) Do I care? No. The sense of it is there. I don’t need to look up the horses arse.

  3. drtombibey Says:

    Dang it, for a minute there I forgot who I was. Thanks for the edit- I went ahead and corrected it.
    She was a real smart English teacher, though.

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