Sunday, June 28, 2015

Pianic Panic June 22, 2015

Ah. What a week. There are some weeks where you can't believe how fast it went. Other weeks when you can't believe you survived to P-Day. And some weeks when you can't even think of a salutory paragraph for your email. So. Uh. Spiritual experiences. Piano. Whatever. Let's get on with it.

"Hey, Manny, what should we do with the bathtub?"
"Aw, just throw her up in the tree."
So as none of you are aware, I am once again the ward pianist. This will likely be something I have to deal with for the rest of my mission. Almost every chapel has a piano in one form or another, and almost no chapel has a pianist in one form or the other. See, you know that part of your brain that allows you to count to four and not be tone-deaf? Yeah, Dominican Mormons don't have that. So, it's left to me. I knew it would be. But I won't lie. I tried to hide the fact that I play the piano at first. It wasn't shame over my ability- I'm no Elder Barlow (although I regularly kicked his amorphous posterior at Egyptian Rat Catcher) but I can get through just about any hymn outside of that old passive-aggressively rhythmed Commie fave, "Far, Far Away on Judea's Plains." No, the problem is the kids.

As a general rule, I like kids. I think they're adorable. I admire their courage. If they wanna strip down and start throwing dirt at each other in the streets, they don't worry about silly things like "arrest warrants" and "cavity searches". They just do it. I think their innocent curiosity is as endearing as it is fatal. I look forward to the day when I'm- well. The day when I'm not scared out of my mind to be a pappy. As a person, I really love kids. 

As a pianist, I hate them. I hate them from the deepest depths of my soul. They come up to you in the middle of sacrament meeting and start pressing buttrons (I have no idea what a buttron is. It was actually a typo, but it looked funny, so I left it there. Deal.) on the keyboard console and hitting random keys while you're playing hymns. Everyone's looking at you like you're a total idiot and then you realize they can't see the devil spawn because it's three feet tall. Since apparently parenting here is more of an idea than an actual thing, I asked the bishop what I should do. He told me I can take care of it however I want. Great advice, but unfortunately, punching a 3-year-old in the face is one of the less appropriate things a missionary can do. Alas. This is my life.

Anyhow, one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was on the program as the pianist for stake conference. Now, obviously this was no big deal for a salty old veteran such as myself. I mean, there'd only be the stake presidency. Their wives. The temple president. President Corbitt. Their wives. Two seventies.Their wives. The entire zone. Their. Um. Investigators. Well over a thousand other people besides. Okay. I'll admit it. I felt a little bit of pressure. But naturally, I'm Dallin flippin' Johnson. So, I took a deep breath. Found my happy place. And I played that piano. I don't mean to brag, but I must've nailed almost half the notes. Ha. Ha. 

Yeah, I crumbled magnificently. Things I've done comfortably since I was ten years old were an impenetrable enigma to me. I couldn't sight read. I forgot what a second ending was and how to use it. There was a moment in which I was somehow literally reading both hands in tenor clef. The choir sounded better in the parts where I wasn't playing (and considering the abovementioned general skill level of our choir, this sort of boggles the mind). And for the piece de resistánce, one of the overhead fans kicked up a scant hurricane during the instrumental solo part of Come Thou Fount and blew my sheet music off the piano, forcing me to drop out and leaving the violinist- who had eight months playing the violin and absolutely no idea how to improvise- to improvise. It was like watching your sister getting kissed. Awkward. Painful to watch. Slightly disturbing. Definitely could've gone better. I could go on.

Um...yah. I can climb it. Watch me.
Needless to say, when the final amen was said, I was ready to bounce. Unfortunately, just as I was about to make my escape, the stake secretary stopped me and informed me that I had to play a postlude. Now you gotta understand. I was exhausted. My brain was fried. My butt was profoundly sore. My body was literally shaking because I was so frazzled. But. I propped on the toothiest smile I could manage and said, "That sounds dandy." And I started playing the postlude. And then. I had the greatest moment of my life.

There I was. Me. The piano. The postlude. Only slightly more humiliated than the time I walked into the girls bathroom at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Then, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around and found myself face to face with Elder Hugo E. Martinez. Of the Seventy. He smiled at me and said (in English), "Thank you, Elder Johnson. It really makes a difference." Um, so yeah. I've had some pretty decent moments in my time. Finishing my public education. Being born was a pretty epic moment in history (although it probably sucked at the time). Being named Outdoor Skills director. Breaking the Bridger Elementary school record for pages read in a year (by an 8000+ page margin #....boss?). But a Seventy. Heard my piano-playing. And called it difference-making. Posterity's in for a rude shock if they think their births are gonna mean jack squat to me now.

In other music news, Elder Tillmond and I had a singoff with Ventura and Carter. We started with old missionary classics like Eye of the Tiger and Call Me Maybe, moved onto Adele, and put the nail in the coffin with my favorite hymn, the Pokemon theme. Haha when we left, the downstairs neighbor jokingly told us she thought we were torturing cats. That must've been during the falsetto verse of Thrift Shop. Nyaha some might say Tillmond and I carried it too far, but let it never be said we aren't willing to put forth the effort when a completely empty, meaningless victory that doesn't even come with bragging rights is at stake.

In more serious news, we had three baptisms. Pictures are attached, but it's only half the family and I already spent too much time with the upper stuff, so you get the story next week when the rest of the family gits 'er done.


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