Monday, June 21, 2010

My father's day church recital.

Those of you know me know that I have no love for religion in general, though I try not to be a jerk to those with any sort of faith. Alas, my wife has (re?)discovered religion, and so I occasionally end up going with her to church functions of various kinds.

Also, every thursday a 'life group' (essentially a bible study thing- I call em the 'God Squad') meets in my living room. I attend just to be polite more than anything.

There's also cookies, generally.

The pastor (Henry) attends these little meetings, and he once jokingly called me 'the pagan'. Which I revel in. I'm the token pagan of the group. When one member was exclaiming about Jesus' resurrection, he seemed to think this was a unique thing no one had heard of before or since. Skipping right by the bible's own Lazarus, I pointed to a handful of other figures from various religions with prophets who came back, long, long before Jesus came 'round. (My favorite of which is Horus ... check the similarities) But this was met with a "Oh, I hadn't heard of those." And the discussion continued as if I'd said nothing. What did I expect?

Similarly, I was in the church's 3 year anniversary service, (a rare service appearance by me) and Henry was declaring with great joy about the uniqueness of Jesus' resurrection. I smiled, but bit my tongue, hard. As I was doing that, Henry added, "And I'm not talking about any of those MYTHS."

Que the eye roll as I pick my bitten-off tongue from the floor.

But I've ranted way off track. They're all really nice people, and if religion is important to them, I certainly won't go to an lengths to attack it, especially when they do some really good stuff, like the foodbank/counseling program my wife is starting up. It really hits towards the 'teach a man to fish' angle.

Where was I? Right. To the point. One time, I went along to 'open mic' night at the church. Religion rarely gets into the mix, but little ones are present, so it stays pretty PG, if not G. The wrangler of this thing is Carolyn, a songstress/guitar player, who occasionally has her young daughter perform with her.

If you look at the sum of the performers at open mic night, and average it out, you get 'average'. There's been some great stuff, and there's be unabashedly horrid stuff, which was applauded, appreciated and fun all the same. The highlight in that category I hear, was a little boy doing a piano solo... for a LONG time, despite not knowing how to play the piano one bit. Months later, people still talk about that performance with a smile.

My wife thought I should go to one and do a reading of my writing. My books have broad sections of "NSFW" sections... not TOO bad, but more than the young ones need to hear. So, they were out. It's also hard to read a section from a novel.. especially a sci-fi novel, without leaving people in the dark, feeling the need to explain a lot. My wife brought up a little non-ficiton bit I did about THE DEMON RAMP.
And I thought, "Hey, that'd be perfect!" But on the day in question, I re-read it at home, and realized it was in need of some polishing up. So that night I skipped getting in the front, promising I'd have something for next month. I had fun enough, heard an amazing pianist, and saw my 3 year old dancing her heart out on a pew, while holding hands with her mommy. That kid's got moves.

At some point, I got it in my head to do something with the piano next month. I told Carolyn. She asked if I needed anything. I think she might have been hinting at some accompaniment, but I told her no.

The thursday prior to my performance, my wife leaked the details of it to god squad, but of them, only Henry was able to make it to the event.

We were late that night, due to nosebleeds and train crossings, but were told we didn't miss a ton. Carolyn was playing. she soon relinquished the stage to a band I'd not seen around before. They were pretty decent. As they played, Carolyn told me I'd be on after them. "You're just going to be playing piano?"
"I could use a mic, too."
"Oh, you're singing?"
Not answering, I asked "Can you GET a mic down by the piano?"
"Oh sure! No problem."

My wife rolled her eyes, having just tuned into the conversation. I aim to get her to do that as often as I can.

When it was my turn, I wheeled up to the gradually aging standing piano. The bench was moved out of the way, and the mic set up. Since my injury, I can't use the pedals anymore, but that would affect me no more than the fact that my wheelchair raised my knees just a BIT too high to get under the keyboard.

Note- the dialogue ahead is 'as of best memory' and streamlined to counter any rambling I did due to hyperness.

I tested the mic volume, and got a little chatty. "I think anyone here that considers themselves musical in any way can trace it back to some kind of family seed, probably a parent, yes?" A few hands went up, most notably from the singer in the previous band, whose dad had been the drummer.

"Well, when I was planning on doing this, I was going to talk about my dad a little, but when I realized this was going to happen on father's day, well, badabing."

I turned myself towards the piano and rolled up my sleeves. I turned back to the people. "My dad was very musical. Piano, guitar, sax, trumpet, he dabbled in a ton of things. He did the most with the guitar, I think. I remember being like five or six, and curling up in his lap. He'd put the guitar over my head, and I'd ask to hear the lowest note. He taught me all about resonance, and frequency, and I loved to hear the low notes up close, and feel them fade away."

I turned half way to the piano, but then back. "Of course, we didn't always have a piano. we moved a lot, and pianos are expensive to move, especially with the recession coming down on the world."

"We sold the sax, too. Heck, my mom didn't like it a lot. It was unavoidably loud, and resulted in 'mush mouth' from playing. She insisted on a kiss BEFORE, not after playing. But now and then... now and then we'd get our hands on a piano." I turned to the piano, and rested my fingers on the keys. "He didn't play all that well, and heck, I'm sure not going to come close to that fella last month who blew us all away."

I forgot a little joke I planned to add here, I wanted to say at this point "Well, my dad's no longer with us.... He went to Maui last week. He's coming back on tuesday." It's true. Back tomorrow. But, I missed that part.

I DID continue solemnly with "He wasn't so fast, but he liked his jazz slow anyway." I turned away from the piano and said to everyone. "It kinda makes me wish I'd learned to play SOMEthing!" I rolled away from the piano, down the aisle, watching the people's faces as they realized one by one that I had never intended on playing a note.

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