You Have a Game Tonight

I don’t sing.

No karaoke.

No drunken revery.

“Happy birthday”?

Nope. I’ll smile and mutter the words and let others sing out loud.

Is it because I can’t sing?

I don’t know.

It’s not so much that I can’t sing, but that I don’t sing.

Well, I must admit that I sometimes sing in the car when I’m by myself.

But I don’t sing in front of other people?

Why not?

Why deprive myself of the joy of song?

Why rob those around me of my magical voice?

It might be magical. Who knows?

Actually, I know. It IS magical.

One day, in second grade… FIFTY YEARS AGO!… I was in the school chorus (we all were) and on the day of the spring concert, I had a conflict. A Little League game. I begged my mom to let me play in that baseball game. She finally said yes.

So during our final rehearsal, the day of the concert, the music teacher stopped the room silent and pointed right at tiny little Dave.

“YOU!” she bellowed.

“YOU sit over HERE. You are not practicing with us.”

“YOOOOOOU have a GAAAAAAAME tonight.”

I trudged off of the risers and sat down behind the teacher, with the entire Mark Twain Elementary School (Des Plaines, IL) and probably all of their mean older siblings staring at me. Laughing at me. Maybe. I might have cried. Some details are a little blurry.

But those five words, which should bring joy to any child, are now burned in my memory so many decades later.

Other grades and other schools had chorus opportunities for me. Sometimes they were required. I never participated. In sixth grade, I wrote essays for my annoyed teacher, whatever poorly contrived topic he could think of, for an hour, just to not sing.

Why am I telling you all this?

I think about it still. I learned.

I try not to take things personally, like my music teacher did.

Especially when someone else’s situation is not all about me.

I assume people have reasons for their actions, even if I don’t agree.

I won’t embarrass somebody in front of their peers or their classmates.

And I try to have back plans in mind if, for some reason, something unspeakably horrible happens like that sweet-voiced little 7-year-old can’t make it to the school concert.

What do you think of that?

See you tomorrow!