On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: twelve drummers drumming.
Completely out of the blue, my true love announced, “I’ve been having an affair.”
“He’s the drummer in a rock group. You won’t have heard of him.”
“But maybe I’ve heard of the band,” I said, although I couldn’t help thinking to myself that the group’s chosen name possibly wasn’t the most important item of information I needed to know at that precise moment.
“No, they’re — they’re not very famous,” my true love replied, nervously.
“Are you sure? I mean, I know I’m a bit out of touch with music, but I might have heard them playing on one of those late night radio shows that -”
“Look, will you just shut up about the band, for pity’s sake? Here I am, trying to gently break it to you that I’ve been having an affair …”
“With a rock drummer. Yes, you said.”
“… and you’re really not making it any easier.”
“Sorry. I was just hoping that he might be famous so I could sell my story to the papers.”
It was a cheap shot on my part, and my true love wisely decided to continue the confession and ignore it.
“But it’s over now. That’s what I wanted to tell you. In fact, they’re all over.”
Those last three words hung in the air for a moment, while we both realised their significance. I took hold of my composure by the scruff of its neck before speaking.
“Did you say ‘all’?”
“Er, yes. That’s the other thing that I’ve been meaning to tell you.”
I didn’t reply this time, because curiosity had taken over. I was genuinely fascinated to hear what the explanation was going to be.
“You see,” my true love continued, “I’ve got this obsession with drummers. Rock drummers. Leather-clad, hard-drinking, heavy-smoking, filthy-mouthed rock drummers. And over the past few years, I’ve had flings with a few …”
My true love produced an old shoe-box and handed it to me. Opening it, I gazed upon a set of small clockwork toy soldiers, each with a tiny drum and even tinier drumsticks. Speaking out loud, I slowly and deliberately counted how many soldiers were contained in the box, winding up the key in the back of each one as I did so. When I had finished, the room was filled with the clattering of toy drums.
“Twelve?” I gasped. “Really?”
My true love nodded, and then passed me a hammer.
“But I promise, I absolutely promise you, that I’m not interested in rock drummers anymore. I know it’s a lot to ask, but if you can find it in your heart to forgive me, I want you — I need you — to line up all the drummers in a row and smash them into hundreds of small pieces. That will put an end to it, forever.”
I turned each of the toy soldiers over in my hands, examining them carefully. They were exceptionally detailed, and while I could understand my true love’s reasoning, it seemed a shame to completely destroy such beautifully crafted items. No, I had a better idea.
A few hours later, I called my true love back into the room to watch the toy soldiers on parade. However, instead of the clattering heard before, this procession was almost silent save for the delicate whirring of the clockwork machinery. With the utmost precision, I had cut away the twelve pairs of drumsticks clutched tightly in the drummers’ hands. They were now all action, but no noise. Completely useless, in fact. I couldn’t help but smile at a job well done.
Emasculated — that’s the word I was looking for. Yes, emasculated.
Every few days, I feel that it’s my duty to stage a ceremonial march-past by our legion of toy soldiers. It’s just a little reminder. Twelve drummers not drumming. My true love understands.