Monday, August 23, 2010

Another Reminder Why I Don't Get Old People

Take Control - Weezer (mp3)
Time to Check My Eyelids for Holes - Stereophonics (mp3)

I'm in our church choir. Sunday mornings, our choir processes.

There's not a thing about processing I find very appealing. I don't like the word. I don't like the idea of walking down the middle of the church with a choir book in my hand trying to sing and pay attention to where I'm walking and have all these people looking at me and keeping time with the director way up at the front of the church.

For someone such as I, an untrained and amateurish soul with a voice made for a large choir (as in, it sounds better when buried underneath dozens of other voices), there's just too damn much going on during a processional. The worst part of all is knowing that my voice can be identified quite clearly as I walk past people. There goes Billy, missing the beat again. He's as off-beat as Steve Martin listening to the blues.

This past Sunday, we processed as usual, and I'm making my way up into the back row of seats where all the men now collect when I hear this ominous thud, almost as if one of the pipes from the pipe organ had collapsed on someone. I look over to my right (I sit on the far right side if you're facing the front of the church, which is to say I'm looking at the left side of the front. Or something), and there's five or six blue robes huddled like they're getting ready to call Circle Right Option A Z Post Delta on Three or something*.

* -- sorry. It's football season.

As it happens, one of the many many many elderly folks in our choir fell on their way up the steps. And when I say "many many many," what I mean is that the median age of our choir is 95. What I mean is that, of the 24 regular members, and of the 35 or so total members, I am at 38 the second-youngest human. The third-youngest is almost 50. There's only five or six others below 60. The rest are, like, so old that they probably still use the word "colored" in ways that have nothing to do with crayons.

The spill in question was nasty. Fella tripped on his robe and ended up scraping a huge chunk off his right forearm as well as bruising up several areas of his face and getting several small cuts. His robe got all bloodied. Five different choir members had to leave the choir to tend to him, which represented a full quarter of the day's take.

It kinda makes me an asshole, but I knew this was going to happen. If Vegas had allowed it, I would have staked my entire life's earnings on one of our older members taking a nasty dive during the processional. It would be like placing a bet on the chance it might possibly rain in the next year. Were I a better person, I would have said something. I would have asked aloud, "Why are we processing with so many old old old people? Isn't this unsafe?" But there's always a back story...

You see, our previous choir director, who left being completely despised by 4/5 of the elderly folks in our church and in our choir, ended that great tradition when he came. They thought he ended it because he was a big ol' self-centered know-it-all closeted frosted-tips-lovin' choir director who had to assert his authority over them. In truth, he ended the tradition because he knew someone was going to get themselves hurt.

The old people, all of 'em, almost to a person, are the very people who went apeshit in demanding that we process. Now here's an even better part. Two of the most curmudgeonly old choir members who demanded the Return of the Processional (the new novel by JRR Tolkein!) ended up quitting the choir two weeks later because -- wait for it! -- that's right, they couldn't process safely.

Do you realize what I'm telling you, people?? Old people can be so damned stubborn that they'd rather be right from the sidelines than to be wrong and stay in the game. In fact, I'm pretty sure they'd take the same bet as I would, that one of 'em was doomed to get hurt. But by God, if that's the cost of maintaining a tradition, then that's the G-D cost, and that's the way it is, and that's that, so bugger off and let me die already in some traditional freakin' way!

Point is, saying something was pointless. So I was left to just ride out the processional storm out and wait for someone to fall and hurt themselves and hope it wasn't serious like a broken hip or worse.

And that's what happened, thank God. A fall. Bruises and superficial wounds. No broken hips. And a vote, coming Wednesday night, that the practice of processing into the choir loft on Sunday mornings be postponed until further notice. A vote I know will pass because I had the votes locked up before we even left the choir loft on Sunday morning.


Daisy said...

I love that you can be a sincere, committed robe wearing church member and still toss out a G-D from time to time.

rodle said...

I love that the real reason you didn't say anything before was that the timing wasn't right for your quest for power. But now you know it's time to make your move...and probably get other people to think it was actually their idea as you smoothly pull the strings from behind the curtain. Clearly you are a modern day Augustus. Ave Caesar!

Tockstar said...

reat comments. I'm more focused on the median age than anything. When I was a teenager, I was in the church choir and considerably younger than anyone else in said choir, except for the other teenager who'd been invited to join. Recently, that other teenager and I (now both in our 30s) were talking about choirs at our new churches.

Him: There are no young people in choirs any more.
Me: There were never young people in choirs. We were 20 years younger than everyone else at Calvary.

My friend proceeded to point out the obvious - 20 years older than a teenager = people in their 30s. Our church choir had probably 4 or 5 couples in their 30s when we were teenagers. Now? Zero.

Our generation sucks. Those old people are stubborn as allgetout, but at least they're hanging inthere. I don't even know what the heck we thirtysomethings are up to, but it sure isn't singing. (Or tithing, but that's another story.)

Tockstar said...

and by "reat" I mean "Grreeeeattt!"

troutking said...

Billy, this column seems to indicate that you are the unholy love child of Dave Barry (the asterisks and the "what i mean when i say...") and Rahm Emmanuel (the political maneuvering). Except, from what I read, I'm pretty sure Rahmbo never said "G-D" or "freakin'" in his life.

Billy said...

@Daisy - Debates about my particular Protestant denomination can linger forever, but I only know it's the one that allows me to simultaneously believe in Jesus while cursing him and his father's name in moments of intense anger. Why the f*#k would I use G-D if I didn't believe in the G- part of the equation??

@Randy - My plans to take over the church are all but complete. Remember: Darth Vader didn't start out even second in command... (and by "start out," I mean part IV)

@Tockstar - Yes, our generation sucks. And yes, previous generations suck for refusing to pass the damned baton in what was intended to be a *#@&%^^ relay race.

@trout - That must be taken as a compliment. Except that I somehow found the profession that guaranteed neither fame, money, nor power. But other than those minor things, I'm exactly like those two dudes.