How Many Drums

During my first trip to Ghana, I bought and had shipped home a player-grade djembe made by a guy named Brain. (Yes, Brain, “a-i.”)

Mike Morris liked the drum and wanted one, I remember. I told him I could get one, and as I recall I took his money, and sent it to Brain with an order.

After that, my memory is unreliable. Over the years I’ve had a growing sense that the drum never arrived, to the point that I’ve wanted to see Mike and talk about it. As a younger person my attitude was that doing international business in cash transfers entailed risk, and this risk was disclosed; buyer beware. Now I feel more like I put my word on a deal and need to square up on it, one way or another.

But here’s the twist; I saw Scott last weekend (to return his Rhodes to him; whole other story!) and he has a drum made by Brain. One that I didn’t know about (or knew, and completely forgot – entirely possible!)

The address label, from Brain in Ghana to Karen Morris in Nebraska. On first sight I recognized Brain’s handwriting immediately, before consciously reading any of the words

He said his folks gave it to him as a surprise in the fall of 2003. That would have been right when I left for my second time in Ghana. So we have a mystery:

  1. How many drums did the Morrises order? One, or two?
  2. Did I never find out that one drum was delivered? I was out of touch for three months after it was delivered, then didn’t move back on campus, then graduated and moved to Minnesota. We practiced and played a few shows, but they were all electric, with a drum set (not djembe). We didn’t record. And it went to Scott, not Mike (who I’d taken the money from)
  3. Or did I know, and forget entirely? I’m about 50/50 on never knowing vs. forgetting
  4. Do I owe Mike anything?

It’s not much in the grand scheme of things, but for several years now this has been the thing from my past I’ve ruminated on the most (not a lot, but the most) and wanted to clear up. And it turns out there’s a good chance it’s either a missed communication, or something my brain invented after losing track of the fact that this loop was closed 18 years ago.

The incredible postage

I’d made up my mind to open the subject with Mike at a V for Voice show and offer him his money back or a donation to a charity of his choice, but he was on vacation. Then COVID hit. I guess I should have gone over and talked to him outside when I was home last Christmas. But now, serendipitously, we have a lot of new (“new” – ?) information.

:it is a mystery:

One I may have to make a donation to NMEA to get off my conscience, even if ultimately I imagined the whole thing.