Charlie Derrington loved, what I would call “messing” with people. Annoying his friends was one of Charlie’s favorite pastimes. He loved sneaking up behind you and goosing you in the back and watching you jump. Curse words would always follow directed at him and he really enjoyed that. His big grin would then lead to that high pitched cackle or his patented, “hee, hee, hee.” Luckily he never did this to me when I had a power tool in my hand but it wouldn’t be beyond Charlie to scare the livin’ shit out of you when you were working on the bench with an instrument.
When he wasn’t goosing you, you could bet he was either planning his next mark or he’d move on to the next guy. In many instances he would try and get his finger up under your nose. That was one of his favorite pranks. He would be talking to you and in mid conversation Charlie would say, “what’s that on your shirt?” Then he would point to the mustard stain or whatever else he could come up with at the time and his index finger would be in ready position almost touching the so called spot. When you looked down to see what he was talking about, he would move his index finger upward till he planted it squarely under your nose. After first moving to Nashville Charlie did it enough to me that I knew better. That didn’t mean that he ever stopped trying. I learned to call his bluff and he would just laugh it off.
I tried for years getting him back but he was like a sly fox. I must fess up, I never got a finger under his nose. I saw him for years get people over and over and it never got old to him. He would always bust out laughing and his mark couldn’t help but doing the same.
Most folks that I’m acquainted with know that I also like (annoying) folks within reason. I too like a good practical joke and once and in a while it came at Charlie’s expense. I am reminded of one of the few times I got Charlie’s goat. It was during a SPBGMA festival at the Music City Sheraton. My guess was it was around 1990. Greg Rich and I were manning the Gibson booth as was Doug Hutchins. I recall Charlie got me good with the finger under the nose trick. I think I had had a couple too many beers, ( I’ll blame that on Don Wayne Reno but that’s another story.) I was pondering how I would get Charlie back and at some point I got the idea to use my son Ryan as a proxy to get him.
Charlie was in a jam session out in the lobby of the hotel and I sent Ryan on a mission. I stood back among the crowd and Charlie had no idea what was coming. My son was around eight or nine at the time and Charlie must have had his guard down. Ryan moved to Nashville soon after I did so Charlie had known Ryan for several years. I used to take Ryan to festivals with me especially the ones close to town. Many people were used to Ryan being around the Gibson booth and Charlie finally was an unsuspecting target.
In between songs, Ryan walked up to Charlie and asked, “what’s that on your mandolin?” Charlie was playing a Loar at the time and he looked down to see what Ryan was looking at. Ryan’s timing was perfect and he nailed him right under the nose. Ryan’s delivery was as good as it gets and he kept a strait face until the moment of truth, then he started laughing. Charlie was caught by surprise and he knew he’d been had. He started laughing as did the pickers he was playing with. Then he said, ‘where’s your dad?” Ryan pointed at me snickering in the crowd. I never did get ol’ Charlie in the twenty years I knew him. I can say one thing though............ My boy did.
I miss you Charlie ! Jim Triggs