There are those who don’t believe that my reasons for not leaving the house much are compelling. Ah, but consider this: Last Wednesday I’d fallen asleep in a chair and missed the dress rehearsal for “The False Prophet.” Yet Sarah still needed me to bring her the video of The Natural History of the Chicken during her lunch break so they could watch it in her religious studies class.
I drove the tape over to her high school and happened to park right behind a police car. While in the process of “tele-locating” Sarah, I noticed that in the cop car, on the divider window between the driver’s seat and the “perp” section of the vehicle (that should answer the question about whether or not I watch too many re-runs of all various editions of Law and Order and CSI) there was a sign – a professionally-lettered sign in large capital letters (big enough for me to read even though I’m extremely overdue to get new glasses). The sign read, “STUPID.”
I REALLY wanted a picture of this. But by the time I had re-set my camera phone with the right flash setting so that I take ANY semblance of a recognizable image at all, the police officer got in his car and drove away. Little did I know, this was not merely an amusing oddity, but a SIGN (metaphorically as well as literally) – something portending events in my immediate future. Alas, I did not recognize this foreshadowing.
So after purchasing Gerbera daisies for the Monkey Cats in four different hues (a mistake, I came to find, because NO ONE WANTS ORANGE) and paying a little extra for them to use lemon leaves instead of odious leather-leaf and making sure there were water tubes and purloining tons of little insert cards that said things completely irrelevant to a vocal performance like “Get Well Soon” and “It’s a BOY” and “Happy Birthday,” I was on my way.
I was driving through the “river-bottoms” (as the locals say) and, admittedly, not really paying attention to my speed, etc. Then, as a wretched nightmare from my past, I saw flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. Yes, I was speeding. And though it has been ages since I got a ticket (I’ve grown a little and chilled out the lead foot – REALLY), I know the drill. I don’t get warnings. I get CITATIONS (with the one notable exception of my twenty-first birthday upon which I deigned to use a pitiful, wheedling voice and say, “But it’s my BIRTHDAY” – I almost was serenaded by police officers, but they were too shy in the end to sing to me). I don’t have the necessary blonde bimbo appearance to avoid tickets, I guess (my apologies to blonde bimbos but your sexy wiles deserve a SMALL mention because I sincerely doubt you’ve gone to traffic school five gazillion times and had your license suspended, etc.).
And I knew it wouldn’t do any good to attempt to explain to the officer that after I’d delivered The Natural History of the Chicken to my niece who’d HAD CANCER and run an errand to purchase gifts for DESERVING YOUNG PEOPLE, that it had been imperative, for reasons that I couldn’t really put into words, that I sing along intensely and vociferously (and repeatedly) with a delightfully angry Avril Lavigne song and that’s why I hadn’t noticed my speed. But, OH JOY, since my record has been clean, I CAN GO TO TRAFFIC SCHOOL AGAIN!!! By now I am practically a traffic school connoisseur. I shall have to post an update as to how the local traffic school stacks up to my previous experiences.
Later in the afternoon, it was time for the “Solo and Ensemble” competition. I should say right off that I am NOT a great pianist at this point in time. I do have the ability that I consider imperative from a singer’s perspective for any accompanist, which is to damn the torpedoes, JUST KEEP PLAYING. Nevertheless, every so often, when I’m teaching a voice lesson or the like, I start the introduction to something and I just HAVE to stop because the piece of music I’ve just played has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the notes or the key or the time signature on the page. Then I halt, momentarily baffled, and start again playing something much more akin to the written music.
Now, in my defense, I’d run through “The False Prophet” with the Monkey Cats on what I must describe as several different “honky-tonk” pianos (each incapable of playing several key notes – different ones, depending on the piano). Then I’d run through the accompaniment on my own piano (admittedly not enough). But when we went to perform, after I’d reminded them to all look alive (unlike the bulk of the singers we’d seen who looked more or less like zombie automatons) and to NOT utilize the “Adam and Eve” hand position (just think about it – you’ll get it), I sat down at the grand piano in the High School Choir room.
I’ve never played this piano before (though I don’t suppose that’s really an excuse). So the Monkey Cats are standing poised and ready, I’m poised and ready at the piano, and I proceeded to play an introduction so completely unrelated to the piece that follows that I might as well have favoured everyone with an impromptu rendition of La Marseillaise or Pour Some Sugar. I did have the presence of mind to just keep going, squelching the nigh-unto-overwhelming impulse to make it into a most amusing Victor Borge-esque moment in which I would have stopped, looked quizzically down at the keyboard, had a “light-bulb” moment, opened the piano lid and pulled a rubber chicken out of it. Then, after tossing the chicken into the audience I’d have sat down as though nothing had happened, played the introduction semi-perfectly and everyone would have had a hearty laugh. Ha ha ha.
Luckily, I don’t believe that the skills or lack thereof of the accompanist made any difference in the scoring of their performance. The Monkey Cats did very well with their singing even after hearing the somewhat Avant-garde selection I sprung on them right before they were to open their mouths.
Last year, after singing, I took the Monkey Cats and at least one Monkey Cat Boyfriend to Taco Hell, where we spent $42.11 on food. AMERICAN. I kid you not. ALL of the girls remembered the amount to the penny. They wanted to go again this year (tradition, of course), but we had fewer Monkey Cats in the first place (and we were missing one, actually, so they substituted the “Honorary” Monkey Cat, Josh) and everyone’s boyfriend was either gone or being a “dweeb.” Consequently, we only spent a paltry $26 and forty-something cents.
At Taco Hell, when the subject of my butt somehow came up (it always “ends” up there, no pun intended), and they all reminded me with pride that they’d not poked me in the tookus or jiggled my posterior, Monkey Cat Nessa proceeded to poke my left lunch-lady arm and exclaim loudly something to the effect of, “See, she JIGGLES.” I laid down the law at this point, saying that Hoppy and Bob were OFF-LIMITS, too (thank you, Garrison Keillor).
Then I told M.C. Nessa to “look right at me and pay attention” and went on to regale her – and yes I used these very words – with a “cautionary tale” about making fun of certain behaviors or parts of peoples’ bodies because Karma would come and, pardon my saying so, BITE YOU IN THE ASS. I
used several examples from my own life.
I think, perhaps, the timing might not have been right, as they were well onto their way to being completely punch-drunk. Oh well.
But, HEY MONKEY CATS!!! YES, OVER HERE!!!! I’M HOLDING UP SOMETHING VERY SPARKLY AND SHINY!!! Okay. My young and innocent friends, please consider what I had to say when you are feeling calm (perhaps at the dentist – semi-anesthetized) and if you REMEMBER what I said, know that it is true and beware of the Karma. Thank you.
Just a few other things briefly: