Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.

Barbershop Rawks My House

On Tuesday night, I went to check out the barbershop chorus with another young woman who recently married the guy whose mother I met at the cd release party last Friday night who invited me to come to her next rehearsal. Let's just call her Young Woman for short.

Young Woman and I briefly reverted to giggling high school girls with attitudes when we arrived to see a slow trickle of old ladies into the school gymnasium where the chorus meets. She and I did what mature married ladies do and snuck out a side door to smoke cigarettes. Let me tell you internets, I am all class all the way, no comprises. It felt kind of good to be standing out in the fall chill behind a high school, smoking cigarettes in the waning light, toeing gravel with my shoe, and watching the orange sparks from the spent butt blow in wet patterns against the brick wall. Whitey (this is what I'm calling the woman who invited me, and I have my reasons, and none of them are race-based, even if she is rather pale) eventually stuck her head outside, gave us a motherly scowl, and scooted us inside for our auditions.

Did you read that? AUDITIONS. I thought that I was just going to see what it was all about, sit at the back of the auditorium and be an observer, maybe wax a touch critical of the polyester level in the room if the spirit moved me. This wasn't what anyone else there had in mind, though, because I was ushered into a classroom alone with one of the many Helens. She blew a pitch pipe at me, and I made noises in kind. Envision mating robins who have suffered vocal damage in a forest fire, because when I am nervous, my throat seizes up, and my notes become tight and reedy. After passing the pitch pipe test, she asked me to sing her a verse of something, so I forced out the only thing I could think of, "I Sing the Mighty Power of God". The first line, I sing thuh-uh mighty power of God, came out much too quickly, so I paused. Helen nodded for me to continue. That ma-ade the mountains rise was thin and flat, so I paused again, took a breath, focused on the framed prime ministers at the back of the room, and dropped down into and spread thuh-uh flowing seas abroad. The back of my throat ached with the nervous tension, and I ended on a windy and tenuous and bui-ilt the lofty skies. That hymn has had better performances, but how could I do justice to a hymn, of all things, with fifteen years separating me from the church? I am just happy the god of the Mennonites saw fit to let me go unscathed, although being the god of the Mennos, who are all big on pacifism, he kind of had to.

Despite my tight throat and my pulling at the bottom of my sweater like a six-year-old who has to pee, I passed my audition. I PASSED, INTERNETS, and then not only did I pass, but also my range proved large enough that they let me pick whatever part I wanted to sing. I chose to sing lead, which is mostly melody lines, because harmonies have become difficult for me to find after so much time away from the blessed hymns. I may have started learning to harmonize at the age of five, but harmonies are nothing like bicycles. I would likely ride those puppies straight into oncoming traffic.

The rest of the evening was wonderful. The women in the chorus are so positive and friendly. I am not normally the huggiest person, so when no less than three strange women wrapped their arms around me to welcome me to the chorus and I didn't recoil and feel the need to run away and wash myself, I knew that I was in a good place.

It is a competitive chorus, so the practices generally run for about three hours. I have not sung that much for over a decade, so by the end of practice I was actually having a difficult time feeling what it was my throat was supposed to be doing while I sang, and I think I was hitting a lot of flat notes as a result. Yesterday morning found me sounding like the stereotyped bedraggled, aging hooker from a 1970s gritty street cop show.

I had completely forgotten the kind of joy I feel while singing. By the time the practice ended, my back hurt from standing on the risers, my throat was scratchy from overuse, and my face ached from all the smiling I had been doing. I was so freaking happy that I had to go home and wrangle with the Fiery One (his roasted vegetables in a sake-based sauce didn't hurt his good fortune, either).

Will I be going back next Tuesday? You bet your cyberasses I will. Do I love old ladies? You bet your cyberasses I do. Will I consent to wearing matching polyester outfits? You bet your cyberasses I might, if they drug me. Will I be party to choreography that includes making jazz hands? Oh, hell yeah.

Barbershop is my new non-human crush. Tuesdays are my new Friday night.



Read an interesting piece about the Suicide Girls:
I'll be honest -- I have heard about the shitty pay that Suicide Girls offered in the past. It particularly concerned me when a friend of mine showed me his account and I realized how many members the site had and how much they pay and how much time they spend on it and also how nice the site design was. In other words, they make lots of money and they aren't sharing it with the workers who make it for them. But it was hard not to like them just because of shallow, vain reasons--it's a weird sort of comfort to think that the men you know are into pictures of women that look like women they actually know, instead of the women in "mainstream" porn that are getting closer and closer every day to simply being replaced with lifelike robots made of silicon flesh.