Several months ago my mother joined a local choral group -- a mixed bag of Washingtonians of all ages, walks of life and levels of... ability, united by their common love of song. Mom has been working hard to rope me into singing with them; So far I've resisted a variety of tactics including bribery ("I'll take you shopping after rehearsal..."), threats ("If you're too busy to sing with me once a week then maybe my laundry machines will be too busy to wash your clothes next weekend."), and guilt ("But there's another young woman who comes with her parents -- you're letting us all down!").
Joining wasn't going to happen but I did have an opportunity to listen yesterday afternoon, when the group sang an all-Haydn program at the First Baptist Church on 16th Street. Since I'd never been to a Baptist church or seen this chorus perform, I imagined my tiny blonde mother, clad in a satin robe, clapping enthusiastically like Forrest Gump amidst a throng of black gospel singers. (Once inside I realized I'd been way off base, but still I've tucked the mental picture away for future amusement.)
The rest of my family arrived a few minutes into the first number. My sister plopped down beside me in the polished wooden pew; I was happy to see her so I said a silent "hello" by tilting my head onto her shoulder, where I promptly fell asleep until intermission. A smarter girl would have left time to swing by Starbucks on the way to the church after running out of French Roast that morning. (I'm crippled without my second cup.) Or failing that, I might have spared a moment to pencil green irises on my eyelids so I could snooze through the concert unnoticed. But as usual, I didn't think ahead. (Mom, I was listening, and you sang beautifully. Please stop crying.)
After the performance, as we bundled back into our warm things, my brother looked down at my hands and asked, "What... are those?"
"I'm not sure if they have a name," I said. "I was thinking maybe glittens or muvs, or pawpaws... maybe camel toes? Oh -- no, scratch that one. Shut up, it's not that funny. Lately I've been calling them splittens."
"I see," he said, pressing his lips together.
I continued, "They're warm like mittens, but they allow a little more dexterity -- it's tough to a work an iPod with your all your fingers stuck together. Plus these match my new favorite hat."
My brother looked them over, nodding thoughtfully as he inspected my hands. After a long pause he said, "Interesting design. As far as I can see there's only one drawback." To which I raised my eyebrows -- Yes, and what is that?
"You look completely retarded."
"Josh, that's not true, don't tell her that," my father scolded. Always my hero. "She looks more like a circus freak. Like that Lobster Man we saw on The Learning Channel."
My brother shot me a wicked grin and sneered, "While we're on the subject... Well, I think you ought to be told there's a fuzzy tumor growing out of your head."