Saturday, August 20, 2005

Question #24, Moths & Spit **POSSIBLE GROSS ALERT!!**

One of the 25 questions asked of me last week: 24) What volume of "condensation" does your trombone produce daily?

My answer was somewhere between a third to a half a cup. And that the generally accepted term is SPIT, not "condensation". I also said that for our next gig, I'd empty my spit valve into a cup and verify my estimate. But first, a sorta gross story (WARNING--It's flaggable!):
    We had a rehearsal this past Tuesday, like every other Tuesday night. All the boys would be there. But just one of the girls. I pulled out my bone and did some pre-session warm-ups. In/Out/In/Out. Not very smooth.... My bone seems a little sticky. As I pull my bone away from my mouth, I notice a terrible smell. Yes, there's often an odor, though subtle, to my bone. Which is to be expected when there's so much spit involved. Add to that the sugars or bits of food from earlier in the day, and odor can build up with my bone.
      "One should always bathe one's bone, preferrably in warm (not hot) soapy water every once in awhile. This takes care of any scratchy build-up that may develop and aids in getting a smooth arm motion when playing your bone. You certainly don't want to be dealing with grit while you're playing your bone. All that pushing and pulling and pumping can seriously damage the insides of your bone. You can also get an acid bath for it, but that's fairly hardcore."
    Anyway, there's this foul stench coming from my bone. Much worse than usual, and (sorry) not a recognizable smell. One generally gets used to the smell coming from his bone. I've got a bit of time before we all start, so I excuse myself to the bathroom so that I can get a little inner rinsing done. I add a little water, pump up and down a couple of times, and lean over to the sink to empty out. And there it is at the bottom of the sink. The remnants of a small moth. Left over from when my bone was out in the elements during the rodeo dance over 2 weeks ago! Stewing in my bone, with the sugary spit and other things in my bone. This is why you should bathe your bone often!
Enough of that... To answer the question of how much spit is produced--I actually duct taped a small cup to the floor of the stage at our gig on Wednesday afternoon. It was a 3-hour gig instead of our usual 4, and I wasn't doing any drinking. And I made a concerted effort to spit into the cup at all times. I asked the other guys in the horn section how much they thought I'd get, and while they didn't come up with a specific measure, they all said it should be substantial. Below is the picture of the cup of spit after a 3-hour gig (be sure to click on it to get the bigger picture!):

Even if you take evaporation rates into consideration--that ain't anywhere near a third of a cup, let alone a half cup. I'm crushed! I don't feel like I've given it my all! I'm considering running the test again at a future gig. A couple of things to note. There seems to be a slight blackish-green tint to the spit. That would be from the things growing inside my slides (another reason to bathe the bone). Maybe even some moth parts. And the bits of whatever at the bottom of the cup are NOT from my horn, but blown in from the considerable wind we played in.

So to answer question #24--I'm still researching the answer, but my original estimate seems to be too high. If you feel that this whole post was "objectionable", feel free to use the Nazi-like censorship flag above!
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