Being in a choir is the same as being on a soccer team. The men who sing baritone are in defence. They can see what is coming their way. Baritones have the most fun after drinking and tell loads of jokes. Tenor is midfield, so are anxious and annoying. Tenors just want a bit of everything. They are the power players. Altos are on the wing and female. That is the periphery, so they provide the bawdiest jokes to get attention. Sopranos are in a world on their own, like any striker. Highly strung and attention seeking when everything goes well. Kiri Te Kanawa is the most vivid example.
Frank knows this from his long time friend, Kathy, who invited him into her choir social circle. They sing gospel, R&B and pop. He’s divorced and has no life outside of fire fighting. Choir, like sport, is a great equaliser for social networking. Frank only sees in himself an ability to sing in the shower but found being in a group with people of different abilities gives him more confidence to take on the public persona of a performer.
The choir’s name is, “Come as you Are”. This is based on a Nirvana song from the ground breaking album “Nevermind.” The final year’s performance will be at the children’s hospital to raise the spirits of those in need and their families.
Kathy has always been a doer not a talker about getting things done. The debate about an end of year gig just got her into action. Her everyday philosophy of “less talk, just do it” made her contact the hospital via email. The children’s ward is more than happy to let “Come as you Are” bring their joy. This is a location Frank is looking forward to. He is a big fan of children and families but a bigger fan of women in uniform: like nurses. Nurses are also great fans of fire-fighters.
The choir practices every second Monday with the location shared around by the members’ houses. Kathy loves being in someone else’s place, looking at how they live and what they have for everyday life. Today it is Frank’s turn. Never anxious about keeping a tidy house, Frank feels a bit pressured while doing the vacuuming and dusting. Cleaning the toilet is his least favourite activity but he knows he has to do it for Ruth, who runs the choir.
Never one to operate by committee, Ruth loves to be in charge and hates being challenged. As a soprano, she can sing well but is a bit mental like the other highly strung singers.
Frank puts wine glasses on the table next to the water jug and tumblers.
There is an almighty crash as his house shakes. Fifteen seconds later, Ruth barges into the lounge, takes Frank by the shoulders and with her very beery breathe says
“I’ve just smashed into the back of your car. I’ve dodged an alcohol breath testing bus just around the corner.”
By Ken Burns (NZ)
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