In Which I Go On About Chorus Practice, My Bad Writing Habits, Grace Six, High School Bathrooms, And Beer With The Added Bonus Of An Awful Poem

The following entry was written piecemeal during my barbershop chorus practice last night.

I am at barbershop chorus practice. Being very nearly deaf in one ear and muffled in the other, I am not much good here, but at least I am learning the words and breathing. I almost passed out during the last meeting, because I am so out of practice, being fifteen years removed from my last serious choir practice, so if I can distance myself from the likelihood of fainting on the risers, I will be that much farther ahead. *

* One of my worst habits when writing is using clichéd phrases such as "I will be that much farther ahead". Whenever I type out one these, I get sucked into an argument with myself:
Me1: What do you mean when you say "that much farther ahead"?
Me2: I will have improved, of course. That's what I mean.
Me1: Yes, but what do you mean by "that much"? Three feet? Two fathoms? One week and three days?
Me2: I was thinking qualitatively, not quantitatively, freak.
Me1: I don't know. If you passed out on the risers, you would be guaranteed to be 5-feet-7-inches further in whichever direction you fell.
Does this sort of thing work as a deterrent for me? No. I continue to write and publish such phrases, and have now gone the whole nine yards and shared my ridiculous internal dialogue about the problem. I know no shame. **

**The whole nine yards. I kill me.

Mostly, I am spending my time in the gymnasium, watching the chorus from a collapsing bench/table combination that is threatening to collapse and doing what my grade six teacher would have called a dry run. In grade six, we all had three-dollar alto recorders, and during Music she would sometimes stop and instruct us to do dry runs, which meant practicing our fingering without blowing into the mouthpiece. I am sure that she was just saving her sanity from the onslaught of thirty-one wind instruments being played with a simultaneous arhythmia by uninspired eleven-year-olds. She could not have been oblivious to the sound of the random padding of our fingers over the cheap plastic tubing while we whispered ingenuously out of the sides of our mouths and kicked notes from desk to desk with our sneakers.

I have to break from this grade six nostalgia, because what's happening right now is too good. Everyone in the chorus just stopped mid-way through a dixieland piece to clarify whether the choreography calls for three shakes of their jazz hands or four. I just knew that I would get to make jazz hands without shame if I found the right group of people.

Next to the jazz hands, the second best thing about practice tonight is that I get to sit out in the middle of a high school gym and watch them all sing. I just saw fifty-odd older white women make the raise-the-roof gesture, and I would have totally missed out on its combined effect if I were standing in my section. Also, I will never feel insecure about my upper arm twaddle in a room full of these women. I would have joined this group sooner if I knew.

At this point, I was called away from my note-taking to press buttons on little hand-held tape recorders, help someone find the washroom***, and watch somebody's niece do a musical monologue about loving a barrista boy at St@rbucks.

***The washrooms in that high school were exactly like the ones from my high school in my grade ten year: cinderblock walls thick with years of white paint to cover graffiti, toilets with yellowed plastic horseshoe seats, and corroded taps that were institutionally fashionable forty years ago. I couldn't tell if I was going to have an anxiety attack or romanticize my tortured youth, so I risked using the sharp-smelling powdered soap and left forthwith.

I am thinking that when my footnoteish bits take up fully half an entry that I should accept their status as paragraphs worth integrating into the narrative.

Now I wait for my monthly flow;
I pray my hormones make it show,
and if this lasts one more day
I pray for beer to make it okay.

If only that were true. Draft beer and I have had a falling out, or at least I assume we must have one drunken evening several moons ago, because it and I seem a little less cozy, a touch removed from each other. I used to be a lusty drinker, but over recent months I am more inclined to quiet evenings spent writing or watching Erroll Morris documentaries. Beer makes me tired, it's stories have become repetitive, and I am not altogether certain that it has my best interests in mind when it drags me out on a Wednesday night (as it is threatening to do this evening). After tonight, I think I will propose that it go get beery with other people while I give a decent australian wine a try. I will let it down easy. It's not you, it's me. We need time apart. We can always be friends.

Oh, who am I kidding? Beer and I have been cozy since the early days. We'll always be the kind of lifelong friends that, even if we only see each other once in a while, will feel a kinship that transcends the tedium of weekly reinforcement. Beer, may you never be flat and may your colours always rival those of the setting sun!

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"Recorders Ages Hence" by Walt Whitman