Monday, February 15, 2010

Dumbstruck

In my Senior year of high school, I was in show choir. Yes, yes, laugh it up.

But save some of your laughter because it wasn't only my Senior year, but my Junior and Sophomore years as well. I sang and danced and wore be-sequinned costumes with shimmery tights and teardrop-shaped cubic-zirconium earrings. We used jazz hands on occasion, we attempted swing dance moves, and we learned the leprechaun kick. We went to competitions and sang in choral tournament-like things.

Before one super fun tournament in my Senior year, a handful of of my like-voiced choiriffic friends and I practiced and practiced to get our song selection right. We needed to be on pitch and on time and on smile in order to get a high score, and boy did we want that high score. All was going well -- our voices harmonized nicely and our song selection was impressively difficult enough to catch the judge's attention -- until I woke up on the morning of the competition with no voice. It was just gone. No sore throat, no attendance at a screaming concert the night before, just a lack of voice for no apparent reason.

I panicked and fretted about letting my friends down at the big competition, but they assured me it would be no big deal. (Which was kind of worse -- I'm one voice out of 4 or 6 singers? And they won't even notice my absence?) But I showed up and stood in front of the judges anyway. I pretended to sing my heart out, putting in a pretty hideous performance but hoping to be overshadowed by the girls with bigger voices. It was a good plan.

It failed. As soon as we were done singing, the lead judge started her criticisms and looked directly at me. "Second soprano? Yes, you there. Would you please sing your opening measures for me again?"

Oh the humility. I squawked out a few bars before admitting that my voice had failed me on this important day, and we wrapped up our session. Needless to say, our score was low and ugly. I've never forgotten that day and how embarrassed I was to have been singled out as the reason for failure. I had been pinning my hopes on a high score to rocket me to stardom! Or at the very least, to make me cool. The simple fact that I thought a high score at a choral competition would make me cool should be a good indicator that I was never going to achieve those ranks.

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10 years later, back in my present state, I've lost my voice again. Whatever came over me at the end of last week has just kept throwing punches, the latest one being to de-voice me. Mia is worried that Ursula's taken my voice. I whisper to her that I'll be fine and that my voice will come back soon, but she's mighty suspicious.

I spent much of my yesterday whistling to catch someone's attention. Usually Justin's attention. The problem is, when he wasn't aware I was trying to summon him from another room, I ended up whistling quite forcefully (which is harder than it sounds) and snapping my fingers violently (which didn't really make a difference in my overall snap-volume) to no avail.

Somehow, he didn't catch my drift. Or maybe he just ignored my drift. I think he's enjoying my silence.

So while Justin's been lounging in the Garden of Wifely Silence, I'm stuck here in the Tar Pits of No Words. I have to be directly in front of someone's face for my feeble whisper to be understood, and in the meantime nobody wants to look at me.

I've become invisible.

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The girls were running around like mad hatters before lunch. They'd pulled every DVD out of the cabinet, spilled handfuls of stolen cocoa krispies on the carpet, and stashed groups of stuffed animals all around the living room. Justin got started making lunch (the supposedly easier task) while I supervised the clean-up. With no voice, though, I ended up picking up most of the mess myself rather than trying to hold Mia's distracted face in my hands for whispered encouragement (as in, instruction).

When lunch was ready, the girls abandoned the now only half-messy room for their food while I kept at the cleaning. Plugging away in silence, I wandered where the trail of messiness led me, back to the other -- quieter -- rooms.

I heard Justin fielding the never-ending toddler and preschooler questions and requests that would normally be my job. Not a job, really, just something I do without thinking. I talk. But for Justin -- a strong, silent type -- the constant flow of girly conversation he must keep up with has got to be overwhelming.

He called out to me: "Babe? What're you up to back there?" I smiled in silence, knowing I couldn't answer. "Whistle if you're OK," he yelled. I quietly chuckled, and was therefore rendered whistle-less: can you whistle while you're smiling? I can't. (True story: I only learned to whistle when I was about 19. Justin taught me. To think the whistle would one day be our only available form of communication...) "Stomp on the floor if you're OK!" he yelled again.

I pounded the floor and got back to untangling the pile of blankets on Mia's floor.

I guess I like being invisible. For a day, anyway, it's not so bad.

13 comments:

  1. You are such a good writer! I had my day in show choir, too! Thankfully, that was before digital photography and all those shots of beautiful sequins and jazz hands have seemingly been lost!
    Hope your voice comes back quickly! The Tar Pits of No Words is an awful place to be stuck! :)

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  2. Wait, show choir is cool! I only did it for a year, but I had lots of friends that did. Singing and dancing at the same time = the coolest :)

    Also, I too did not learn to whistle until college. And just when I could proudly display this newfound ability, I learned that I did it wrong - apparently you're supposed to blow out instead of in?

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  3. I was in show choir too. I even earned a letter in it. I had letters in choir, drama, and cheerleading (at our school cheerleading was really not the cool thing to do). Nerds of the world unite!

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  4. The best part of this post? "Mia's worried that Ursula has taken my voice."

    Gotta love the effect Disney has on kids!

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  5. "The Garden of Wifely Silence" - hilarious! I'm sure my husband has dreamed of visiting there someday. :)

    I hope you're able to leave the "Tar Pits of No Words" soon!

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  6. First - SHOW CHOIR? Yes! Me, too. That second paragraph? Could have written it WORD FOR WORD. Awesomeness.

    Thank you for this. It was a little treat during my naptime blog surf. So beautifully written. Clever and poignant. Nicely done, mama.

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  7. I love that you were in show choir!! And I love that story!

    Enjoy your quiet time, missy. That is rare stuff right there!

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  8. I am that you were in show choir. You are so very cool, and I really have a hard time believing that you ever weren't.

    I love this. Love love love it. I hope your voice has returned by the time my comment makes it to publication. If not, pour yourself a bowl of cocoa krispies, watch some Olympics, and relax :) You deserve it!

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  9. Hilarious! I'm sure that jazz hands and show choir make someone cool. Right?

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  10. I wanted to be in show choir, but couldn't sing well enough. Which makes me even less cool, right?

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  11. You're so funny! I was in show choir too, but we didn't do the whole competition thing, thank goodness. :-)

    Hey, I hope you feel better. SO many people I know have had this awful cold thingy that is laying us flat on our backs for two or three days. I'm only just getting over it.

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  12. There's nothing wrong with Show Choir! Of course, I've never actually heard of it before, but I can assure you that if my school would've offered it, I would've been in it!

    I hope your voice comes back soon. In the meantime, enjoy being invisible!

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  13. This is hilarious! I also love that Mia was worried Ursula took your voice...that is classic!

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?