The Best Money I Ever Spent Smiles Back

bass clef

Image by matt_in_a_field via Flickr

The Best Money I Ever Spent sits quietly in a black hardshell case in a closet.

In the right hands, it can be assembled and ready to go in moments. It is quiet and dark in the case. When those hands open the case and carry it into the light, it sings again. I’ve smiled anytime The Best Money I Ever Spent sang a note.

Rent To Own

Renting to own something, anything, is usually a sucker bet. I figured it made sense to do it in this case. He was pretty young. Who knew if he’d even be using it the next year? I signed on the dotted line and we took it home.

It sounded funny. His arms weren’t long enough to do all the things with it that he would later come to do with ease. He had to use his toes to reach the outer limits of its possibility.

The money went out in monthly checks. Under the guidance of two teachers who cared about him, the sound he made with it went from funny, to good, to really good.

From Rent To Own To Just Owned

About the time the money stopped going out in checks and started being sent electronically, a notice came in the mail that said to stop sending money. The payments were complete. We had ownership.

By this time he was making The Best Money I Ever Spent sing each time he opened the case. It didn’t sound funny anymore. Before long a second case joined the fray. He’d open each in turn and make them sing. His confidence grew in so many directions.


Today The Best Money I Ever Spent waits quietly inside a black hard shell case in a closet.

The World's Most Dangerous Marching Band, 10/9/10, in the stands. copyright me

The boy who used to use his toes to reach seventh position on his rent to own trombone now plays a gleaming silver horn in a college band miles away. I see him charging toward his life in the same way he runs out on to the field in front of 60,000 people to make that silver horn sing – with an 18 year old’s confidence and the grin of that sixth grader carrying home his first trombone.

This morning I opened the case and looked in at The Best Money I Ever Spent. I whispered and let his old horn that he’s doing fine.

I know that horn smiled back at me.


25 Comments on “The Best Money I Ever Spent Smiles Back”

  1. Todd Pack says:

    Nicely done, omawarisan … although I can’t help but wonder whether you were as sure about the wisdom of your investment when you were listening to that 6th grader struggle to play something that sounded even a little like “Go Tell Aunt Rhody.” 😉

    • omawarisan says:

      Thank you.

      Somehow the songs I remember him spending time on the first year were Go, Fight, Win and Oh, Canada. I knew the words to Oh, Canada but one of us couldnt keep time.

  2. Loved this story, oma…my mom and all her sisters played in marching band…my cousin and her husband both play trombone (he plays professionally in a couple of salsa bands in Florida). Sending them a link to this post…


  3. Ahhh, yes, my 17 year old plays the flute in band and will be going to college next year. I can definately relate.

    • omawarisan says:

      I don’t know if there is any parallel with your situation and ours, but the band was not at all valued at his high school by the administration and students but at college the band and its members are a big deal. If shes at all wavering, it looks like it gets really good after graduation!

  4. hippie cahier says:

    Simply beautiful. I loved watching him use his toes.

  5. We found him Captain!! says:

    Handsome must run in the family????

  6. Katybeth says:

    And that old horn smiled and tooted back–we did a dam good job!

  7. Brooke says:

    As soon as I read “rent to own” I knew you were referring to his instrument. I hope his first semester of school is full of excitement and good times to be remembered.

  8. Kate says:

    Oma, I love this post. You are such a great father and great person — an inspiration, truly.

  9. linlah says:

    I’m thinking the best money you’re not spending now is having that boy on the field with his college sponsered horn.

  10. This is a great story. I wonder if my parents feel it was a great investment to get me those Mexican puppets. Now I dance kind of herky-jerky like they do. No one likes it when I dance. Should I blame my parents or should I just move on?

  11. jammer5 says:

    What tales that horn could tell. Excellent tale yourself, amigo.

  12. We found him Captain!! says:

    Did I say ” I really love this?” URDAMAN!!

  13. […] still convinced that first trombone I bought was the best money I ever spent. I’ll also always be grateful to the two band directors who are a such a big part of who he […]

  14. omawarisan says:

    Reblogged this on Blurt and commented:

    On my way to Raleigh. Tomorrow is my son’s Senior Day performance with the NC State Marching Band, his last show in front of the home crowd.
    It’s been a long time since he got his first horn in middle school. Here is a piece I wrote about that horn during his freshman year at college. It’s been a great ride.
    And it turns out that rent-to-own isn’t always a sucker’s bet. Usually, but not always.

  15. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Good one 🙂

    Go ‘Pack!

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