This little cautionary tale has been in circulation for many years, but it’s so good that it’s worth sharing again. I’ve added my own observations and augmentations at the end.
A C, an E-flat, and a G go into a bar. The bartender says: “Sorry, but we don't serve minors.” So the E-flat leaves, and the C and the G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished and the G is out flat.
An F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough.
A D comes into the bar and heads straight for the bathroom saying, “Excuse me. I'll just be a second.”
Then an A comes into the bar, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor.
Then the bartender notices a B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and exclaims, “Get out, now! You're the seventh minor I've found in this bar tonight.”
The E-flat, not easily deflated, comes back to the bar the next night in a three-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender (who used to have a nice corporate job until his company downsized) says, “You're looking sharp tonight, come on in! This could be a major development.” This proves to be the case, as the E-flat takes off the suit, and everything else, and stands there au naturel.
Eventually, the C sobers up, and realizes in horror that he's under a rest.
The C is brought to trial, is found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of DS without Coda at an upscale correctional facility. On appeal, however, the C is found innocent of any wrongdoing, even accidental, and that all accusations to the contrary are bassless.
The bartender decides, however, that since he's only had tenor so patrons, then the soprano out in the bathroom, and everything has become alto much treble, he needs a rest, and closes the bar.
OK, that’s quite a tale, but obviously some major facts have been left out. Here’s some additional material that I haven’t seen reported in any version of this story.
This story could have included more notes about the trial. For example, one of the attorneys, B, was accused of using a leading tone with key witnesses. The judge didn’t like his mode of questioning. And under questioning from a staff attorney, the bartender admitted to having a second bar exactly like the first (that is, a double bar).
Why weren’t charges of indecent exposition brought against the E-flat, who disrobed in public? That would have been an interesting development. I didn’t note this information in the recap published above.
And no one mentioned the pick-ups hanging around in front of the bar. They were all short, and some were carrying flags; they were protesting that the bartender wouldn’t let them past the chord he had strung across the opening of the bar. “He lets minors into the bar, why not us?” complained Dot, the shortest of the Anacrusis Sisters, who led the protest.
After he was cleared of wrongdoing, C sued the bartender, accusing him of casting a slur on C’s character. “Slurring?!” the bartender scoffed. “You should have seen him slurring after he and G downed that open fifth. They really tied one on!” The two parties eventually composed themselves and agreed to discuss the situation in more measured tones. The bartender agreed not to repeat his mistakes, and C agreed to offer only tonic to minors in the future. Thus, harmony was restored.
Well, even if C had been sent to the “upscale” correctional facility, he probably would have been able to create a key by which he could have escaped. If the facility had been secured with a combination lock, he would have to learn the secret coda, of course. (Thanks, D.)
It’s interesting to note that these events were not widely reported. “It’s offbeat news, of course,” said one newspaper editor, “but it’s not really the kind of upbeat story our readers enjoy. Sometimes a local musician will pitch a story like this, and if we can find some theme to connect it to larger developments in the community, we’ll run it.”
Of course, this is a work of ficta. Any resemblance to real music is entirely accidental.
The original story has been circulating, without attribution, for many years. If I knew the author, I would give credit.