Wherein I discover my Inner Steel

I visited Gentleman Friend down in the Salt Lake City area over the weekend, for that is where he lives. We found a nearby LDS chapel (didn't have to look very hard--you just pick from the three steeples visible from the front porch) and slipped in just after the opening prayer. So we ended up sitting in the overflow area, where the metal chairs are set up going into the cultural hall (read: gym). This is where people sit when they want the sound of the freaking fistful of Mardi Gras beads their toddler is shaking furiously during the sacrament to be magnified every time the beads are dropped on the hardwood gym floor or slapped against the back of the metal folding chair. Thank you for giving me a reason to dislike parents on Sundays and not just during the work week.

Turns out it's also the place to go when you have absolutely no intention of singing any of the hymns. And since you're so scattered back there, if you do start singing then yours is pretty much the only voice you hear.

So this is what happened at the sacrament hymn, even O Lord of Hosts (#178 in the LDS hymnal). I started singing and Only. Heard. Me. Actually paused and whispered to GF, "Um, am I the only one singing?" He nodded in the affirmative, even though he was singing too. So I soldiered on, even when we got to the point where the men stop singing and it's just the women (read: just me sitting in a crowd of people). And I am not a singer. I mean, I can carry a tune and stuff, but I am not a soloist and have no leanings in that direction at all.

So I felt completely awkward, feeling my face get red as I'm singing solo, sure that people are judging my voice. Only then I kind of got mad. And my thoughts went like this.

"What is everyone's problem? Why are we the only ones singing? And how DARE they judge my voice when they're not even helping to cover up its awfulness? Okay, you know what? Fine. Let's do this thing. I am going to SING because I am here at church and here at church we SING. Shame on all of y'all. So let's sit up, get some breath support, and SING LOUDER. And every single person near me can SUCK IT."

So I did. I cranked up the volume and sang my heart out, even though I completely broke into a sweat, wavered all over the place, and turned beet red. And even though I didn't internalize any of the lovely words or probably get any blessings because I was busy thinking the words of "suck it" at my fellow worshipers. Just to prolong the experience, the chorister made us do the extra two versus. Because she is evil.

GF was very supportive of my stand for truth and righteousness, and whispered words of encouragement. To which I whispered back, "Shut up. Don't look at me! I can't do this if you're looking at me!" Because I'm a delightful, secure person like that. My mother will recognize those words (and the accompanying movement where I shield the side of my face from view) from my entire teenage existence.

Then he informed me that we're SO doing karaoke now.

Aside from the vulgarity, though, I think I'd like to be able to tap into that "rise to the occasion impulse" a bit more often. Where you think, "Fine. You people might be slacking off, but I'm not going to slack off too, just so I can blend in. I am going to do this thing and I'm going to KICK ITS TRASH."


Lady Steed said... [reply]

You should read Theric's svithe on this topic.

I too have experienced the overflow realm and noted the lack of singing found there--it is a strange place. But way to go for trying to bring the joy of music to it's inhabitants.

Azúcar said... [reply]

A.) I do the loud singing as reproach thing too.

B.) I cannot wait until you are the mortified parent. Heehee.

C. said... [reply]

This made me laugh harder than anything in a long time. And yeah, the overflow can be a beast.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Lady Steed, will read that svithe today!

Azucar, I know. I know karma will get me. And what will make it worse is that I'll see some Singleton down the row taking notes for her blog. And I'll probably have to march over and smack her. "I know EXACTLY what you're doing!" Except the Mardi Gras bead kid was screaming anyway. So it's not like the beads were helping to keep it quiet . . .

C., thank you. It really is a strange different world back there.

Hannah said... [reply]

haha! I hate sitting back there. It seems to be the place where all the parents who don't want to discipline their children sit.

Iggy Bloggit said... [reply]

i love a blog post with a moral. aesop's fables got nothin on you.

Carly said... [reply]

I was really worried there for a second that you *were* actually the only person singing and it was some kind of a rest hymn or prelude music or something. But way to step up to the plate, I applaud you.

I spent my Sunday trying to keep the only two kids in a singles ward quiet... it's much more obvious in singles wards when there's a screaming kid, or one who refuses to use his quiet voice. Isn't it funny how two kids take like 4 people to control? Our secret is to shove food in their face when they start to make any kind of noise. Works like a charm for the most part...

Natalie said... [reply]

I hate the overflow - and I end up there every week! We have Sacrament Meeting last and I teach Sunday School, so I never make it in time for a bench. My kids have a hard time realizing that they have to be reverent while sitting on a metal chair in the gym! One of the reasons no one sings in the overflow is the books are not handily stowed in the back of the chair in front of every fourth worshiper.

Usually, I only get sentimental about sitting in the benches on Sunday, but thanks to your insightful post, I think I will miss my bench all week.

Man, the benches rule!

Katie said... [reply]


Holly said... [reply]

If I have to sit in the overflow, there's no point in being at church, other than the whole "take the Sacrament, be obedient thing." I get nothing out of the meeting when I sit back there. Of course, our ward is so noisy that if you sit anywhere past about the 5th row, you can't hear well anyway.

Mardi Gras beads? Oh, that's perfect. Let's hope those parents weren't the ones out on Bourbon Street baring their chests to get them!

I wish that people would learn that the toys you do bring should be quiet. And if you do bring food, don't bring crinkly, noisy fruit snack wrappers and then open them during the Sacrament and then loudly whisper to your children for the next 10 minutes to be quiet while they eat. Unlike the moron family who sat behind us this past Sunday. Mine don't have snacks or toys at church and they are actually more reverent since we gave all that up.

jeri said... [reply]

I hate the overflow too. Not because it's extra-noisy, but because the chairs are hard and not comfy. In our old ward there were so many kids that it didn't matter where you sat, there was a bit of noise wherever. In our new ward though... wow. Lots of old, quiet people. So when Darcy announces "Scooby Doo IS a child of God PARKER!" in her Not Reverent Voice, I get to be the parent that everyone hates.

Go you for singing loud!

Cicada said... [reply]

Not sitting in the overflow is my incentive to be to church on time. And boy, does it work! I'm never late.

i i eee said... [reply]

Singing the hymns is the best of Sacrament meeting! Other than, of course, the actual sacrament.

I blame this all on American Idol.

i i eee said... [reply]

I meant, it's the best PART of Sacrament meeting. Unless the chorister has chosen some hymn that no one has ever heard of. Like, "Oh Ye Simple Souls Who Stray."

cooldad said... [reply]

Ha! That's what you get for showing up late. If you'd been 10 minutes early as your were taught, you could have sat with the adults and maybe not even been the only one singing. Way to solder on though.

coolmom said... [reply]

The overflow is just one step from being in the foyer. Sad. Last week I sat in the sixth row and got to watch our bishops newly married son and his wife kissing during the meeting. As if no one can see that!!! I guess they thought they were being sneaky. Cooldad says I've forgotten what it's like to be young and in love so I guess I need to plant a big wet one on him next week during the youth speaker!

abby said... [reply]

Coolparents I would love to see you sneak kisses during sacrament meeting. It's better than watching the RS back rubs that used to happen in one of my singles wards.

Nemesis said... [reply]

I am dying laughing at everyone's comments. And lest my Dad think I've become One Who Is Late, we actually left his aunt's house on time, but the road our directions told us to take was closed and we didn't know the area. So we had to find another church building and hope there was a meeting happening.

Jenny said... [reply]

I felt like the only one singing on Sunday. Our ward was recently split, so we never have to sit in overflow, but there is a side of the chapel that contains all the loud, irreverent children so we always have to make sure we get there early enough to be far away from all that.

Good times! You should've come to my ward. You missed out.

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

Um, I feel like I need to defend parenthood for just a moment here: My family has lately become backrow joes. The baby will actually make it thorugh most of sacrament meeting if he can sit on the floor and chew on everthing in my diaper bag than have to sit on my lap. And if he has to go out then it is easier than stepping over the REALLY SPIRCHUL (not misspelled) people sitting front and center. I too did a solo in the back row on Sunday. I don't recall any internal dialogue in which I told me fellow-parishoners to suck-it however. I'll keep that in mind for next week.

And yes, one day you will have a child who is rotten at church or the library or the grocery store or to a neighbor or wherever despite your very best efforts to bend its will to your own.

The off-snack is an interesting idea. I would like to do it for my older, but then I don't know what to do about the middle and younger . . . my kids tend to have tantrums when the blood sugar drops (read: have to eat every three hours or so). Still, I might try it.

BEFore said... [reply]

You know, a good dose of NyQuil would solve a lot of these problems. Of course, then they'd be addicted and probably have liver failure at 25, but still....

EmAndTrev said... [reply]

LOL. I love this.

We made it into the chapel (albeit third row behind the Deacons) after many weeks of being consigned to the gym. (Remind me to tell you about the demographics of my ward and how it's darn near impossible to score a chapel seat unless you're 30 minutes early.) I'd forgotten how lovely it is up there, in the comfort of other singing folk and soft benches.

Th. said... [reply]


Don't worry about telling your fellow worshipers to suck it. We all worship in our own way.

Rynell said... [reply]

I don't like being the only one singing either. But I still do it because it's really dumb not to sing. (And you were so much more eloqent about this than I just was.)

My kids used to give me such grief during church. Now I sometimes look across the bench and wonder if these are the same children or if their bodies were taken over by aliens. I don't know if they learned to behave or if I figured something out along the way. Whatever it is, I am glad. But somehow I still get a little frustrated (and unsympathetic) when a parent does not take out their screaming child.

Anonymous said... [reply]

Love it! As I lurkey lurk in your blog I find myself laughing hysterically and wondering if you haven't infact traveled trough a wormhole to my ward in the frigid wastelands of Canada.

When I first moved to my present ward, nobody sang. Ever. At all. I had the same "suck it" thoughts and went on to humiliate my hubby with my loud singing. Everyone has since bucked up and started singing.

We don't actually have enough members to fill the chapel so the gym is never used as overflow but I was recently relegated there during a stake conference and wanted to shoot myself and the parents who thought it was okay to let their kids RUN AROUND behind the metal chairs while people were giving talks and musical numbers. The noise was unbelievable.

So wrong.

Love you though. Keep it up.

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