Monday, March 26, 2007


Sorry to be so loud about it, but hey, look at the subject matter.

Dateline: College Years
Location: McGhee-Tyson Airport, Knoxville, TN

I am making my way to airport security. This is in the days when non-passengers could accompany passengers right to the gate (oh, how so long ago...), and after a nice visit with my maternal grandparents, my parents, and my little brother, I am more than ready to head back to school. I put my bags on the conveyor belt and walk through the metal detector only to set it off. I am made to empty my pockets, and, aside from loose change and keys, I pull out a pocket knife a boyfriend had given me.

My father, who is seeing me onto the plane, takes one look at the knife and practically yells, "A knife?!!!?? Where's your MACE???"

Oh, lovely. He's referring to the little canister Mom gave me when I went off to the northeast. The one that's packed away in my carry-on. The one that the security people are referring to when they say "Yeah, where is that mace? Hand it over, toots!"

I dig it out and hand it over, like they ask me to. I walk to the gate as fast as I can, with Dad after me saying, "What? What'd I do?"

You only had security take away a misty line of self-defense that Mom gave me, for God's sake! Hello!!!!!!! Nice going, Dad!!!


Dateline: pre-New York City move years
Location: New Orleans

Dan and I are passengers on the St Charles streetcar as it makes its way downtown.

Most of the operators of the streetcars are pretty nondescript folks, shouting out the names of the stops that are at major intersections along the route and saying little else unless asked about directions or stops closest to attractions. Of all of these operators, there is one in particular that stands out, and we are riding with him at this moment.

He sticks baseball card-sized pictures of the saints right near his controls. He yells, in a loud, gravelly voice reminiscent of Howlin' Wolf, at the cars attempting to cross the neutral ground in front of the vehicle he is steering, as though his very voice will hold them all back, in tandem with the bell he clangs with his feet.


"MOVE THAT WAGON! (clang, clanggggg)"

The streetcar slows up to take on another passenger, and his voice beckons.

(to a passenger) "GET ON THE WAGON! GET ON THE WAGON!!!"

As we move through the Garden District, a tour group is amassed on the sidewalk near the Washington Avenue intersection. It is at this moment that all the streetcar passengers are treated to an extremely rare assessment from the operator. He gazes out to the right, sees the group and yells out,


The divide between locals and visitors is instantly exposed. Locals on the streetcar laugh uproariously - tourists emit a nervous giggle, or smirk uncomfortably. At any rate, we are all in the same boat, so to speak, until we reach Canal Street.

Dateline: High School years
Location: Auditorium, small-town PA high school

The best part about making Regional Choir is the rehearsals take you outta class. Although I am having to learn ten-plus choral pieces on the fly, my sight-reading is abominable, and reading music is akin to running in quicksand, I'm enjoying hanging out with all kinds of people from schools all over the area. I haven't made it to State Choir, but that was the first thing that got taken care of, and it doesn't bar me from the Regional rehearsals.

The usual choral music suspects are on display, including John Rutter's Requiem, a jazz piece that is mostly a lot of choral scat, except for an a cappella movement that jokingly goes:

No, no-n-no, Nooo (no no!)
No, no-n-no, Nooo (no no!)
No no no no
No no no no no (bing!)
No no no no no (bing!)
No no no no no words!

...and a piece that is giving the conductor fits, because we haven't got it quite right - Daniel Pinkham's Wedding Cantata, which takes its lyrics straight from the Shir HaShirim, the Biblical Song of Songs. We are slogging through the music, which is technically demanding, and the concentration on the notes and the dynamics is so great that we seem to have forgotten something.

The conductor stops the reharsal. Hands on hips, he stares us all down. "Come on guys, what do you think this song is really about???"

Dead silence.

A voice wells up from the back of the bass section, snapping the quiet in two.

"Couldn't be about SEX, could it?"

Forget the music. Forget the dynamics. Forget the words, even. The beginning of the song at every rehearsal thereafter was guaranteed to have me in a giggling fit. I couldn't do that song with a straight face until the performance itself.

Why do I recount all this now?

1) I sometimes think about this stuff when I get in front of a crowd like I did yesterday (see the previous post) and speak my mind. At worst, people will get angry. At the other end of the worst, people will laugh in my face. Someone will listen somewhere, some way, I figure.

2) It's my blog, and I'll write - and YELL - how I want to. Ha.


jeffrey said...

Dateline My years as a service industry employee in the French Quarter: I used to hate that particular streetcar driver. I always thought he was playing some buffoonish New Orleans stereotype for the benefit of the tourists... who I also hated. These were bitter years for me.

Dateline Christmas 2006: We're on our way to spend Christmas in Baltimore with Menckles's family when the airport security in New Orleans asks if we have any liquids. Menckles turns bright red and sheepishly apologizes for almost forgetting that she has a tube of chapstick in her purse. The security guy feels bad for her and just waves her through. After we land in Baltimore, she goes in her purse for a cigarette and realizes that she had a set of heavy duty metal-tipped darts in there the whole time. I figure those could be just as threatening as "box-cutters" had we been the hi-jacking type of folk. We didn't even trigger an orange alert. Kind of disappointing.

Leigh C. said...

The day they enacted the liquids ban, I was in San Jose visiting the in-laws. The Mercury-News published a story the next day with a large photo accompanying it of a couple swigging a bottle of champagne before going through security. They were going to take it on a flight to Russia to celebrate the wife's having taken her nursing boards, but hey, they were suddenly unable to take it on. Rather than cede it to the dark TSA forces at the checkpoint, they chose to down it straight from the bottle.

I woulda LOVED to have been a fly on the wall when they finally went through...

I've also got some godawful service industry employee stories up my sleeve, but that's for another time, children.

Geh schlofen, y'all.

K2.0 said...

OMG, I remember that streetcar driver! I wonder what happened to him.

That is one of the things I hate most, post-K. "I wonder what happened to...?" Most of the time, we'll never know.

oyster said...

Jeffrey says "those were bitter years" as if that distinguishes them from curent years.

Very entertaining little vignettes, Leigh. I say: Keep doing what you like!

Leigh C. said...

Hee! Sometimes I read Jeffrey's blog and his comments and think, "Who died and made you a crank? Oh, maybe George Bernard Shaw..." ;-)

Rock on, MC O.D.

Funky-Rat (a/k/a Railyn) said...

The last time I flew was 1996 - very shortly after the plane exploded shortly after leaving JFK, bound for France. The one that had a group of kids on it from a high school not too terribly far from here. Security was tight, as they didn't know at that time what caused the plane to explode.

I was 8 weeks out from having to unexpectedly have my left leg reconstructed. A few weeks before my accident, we had bought non-refundable airline tickets to visit my favorite uncle in Enid Oklahoma.

I had to have the wheelchair, walker, and my Bledsoe Boot sent through the x-ray machine, to make sure it wasn't full of explosives. They also ran the wand up and down me. That's when we found out I have the ability to set off metal detectors with my leg. ;) I've since set it off going in to a school, a hosptial, and at a KISS concert.

And I remember that "no words" song. It reminded me of playing PDQ Bach in band. There's a part where the woodwinds have to remove their mouthpieces (or in my case, my Oboe reed) and just make squeaky noises. Was regional choir at our school that year?

Leigh C. said...

Yep, regionals was right in our backyard.

And Railyn, I can just see you as the Tin Woodsman going through the metal detector, a la SNL: "Oh, go on through, Tin Man!" ;-)