The Only Boy in the Choir

What do YOU remember about Middle School? Chances are good, it's something embarrassing. Last night was definitely an unforgettable middle school moment for our family. The All District Music concert featured various instrumental and choral groups from the Elementary, Middle and High Schools here in Woodland Park. The 3 different grade school choirs all did peppy swing kinds of numbers with over exaggerated little choreography moves that made us all smile. The High School Madrigal Singers were tight and professional. Ty looked very handsome in his tuxedo, I must say. And, there was only one Middle school choir. Everyone in the Middle School Choir wore white shirts and black pants. Everyone in the Middle School Choir sang two songs. And everyone in the Middle School Choir was a girl ... except Isaac.

It wasn't supposed to be that way. He didn't know. When he signed up for Choir, Isaac had no idea that NO OTHER boy in Middle School signed up. It wasn't supposed to be all girls. This was a surprise to Isaac -- and later, to the rest of us; and last night, to everybody else in the auditorium as the choir took the stage. Even the emcee was a bit taken aback by the mass of girls. When the choir was situated, Isaac was standing directly in the middle of the top row, and very hard to miss. Andrew and I sat next to each other and agreed that this may have been a tragic or embarrassing situation for any other kid ... any other kid, besides Isaac.
This year, Middle School Choir has provided much hilarious dinner-time fodder at our house. For instance, for some reason, last semester the class had to watch "A Never Ending Story" during choir, instead of rehearsing -- for two days straight. "A Never Ending Story" is just exactly that -- neverending. And it is on the Most-Hated-of-all-Movies list for the Leigh brothers. I have no idea why a movie needed to be watched in choir during CSAP (standardized testing) week. I'm not sure why the kids needed a break from the mental strain of singing during that week. I have no answer. Nevertheless, each night, Isaac would repeat neverending sections of the movie, verbatim (and my face ached from laughing). Then he would sing the movie's theme song and Tyler or Lucas would seriously protest something like, "NO!!! Don't sing it!! I can't get it out of my head!!" Isaac would also (more seriously) sometimes sing sections of real choir songs, like "Upon these Hallowed Halls" and "Amazing Grace." But, none of his solo-choir concerts prepared for the performance last night.
I'm kicking myself for not bringing the video cam. So you'll just have to imagine. A small sea of white shirts and black pants took to the risers and I could feel my own small case of the giggles threatening to erupt. Now, remember, Isaac isn't helpless in situations like this. He is a friend of the spotlight. Any other of my sons would have be promptly saved from this situation with a note from their Mom to the guidance counselor, and a schedule change. But Isaac had already explained that the situation wasn't too awful because, "Half of the girls really like me and the other half don't hate me." So, Andrew and I just looked at each other and smiled as the Only Boy in the Choir took his place. I was actually very proud and a little amazed. No way would I have ever been able to do what he was doing ... definitely not at 13.

I was feeling all proud and only a little amused until something turned. I don't know exactly what. Maybe it was all the high voices, maybe it was the distracting girl on the end who kept looking around, then sneezing ... or maybe it was the song. "What a Wonderful World." When Louis Armstrong sings it with his big smile and raspy drawl, that song is sentimental in a very masculine way. But when a small herd of tweens sing about seeing "trees of green, red roses too" and they "see em bloom, for me and for you" with their high young voices ... well ... it's not the same as Satchmo. And it's not the same for Isaac, stuck in the middle of the gender herd. And it started to get funny. By the last round of "And I think to myself.... what a wonderful world" I was trying to hold my breath. It felt helpless -- like being in a very quiet church, sitting next to your oldest sister who just reached down, touched her shoe, and came up with dog poop on her fingers -- during prayer, with no way to get rid of it. (Even though it sounds like I'm describing my sister, Kim Leonard, I just meant it to be a hypothetical example).
There in the middle of the song, I was overcome with the kind of laughter that is more like a tyrannical case of the hic-cups than a quick giggle. And it was very hard to control. I made the mistake of looking at Steve, and Andrew. Both were fighting to keep their own composure. And I nearly lost all hope of keeping myself silent. Mercifully, the song ended without any audible mis-haps from our row. And Isaac filed off-stage with the crowd, unfazed by it all. It was a memorable night. And thankfully, one of those rare Middle School memories that will not be embarrassing. Only because it's Isaac.

I love that kid so much.

So, since I don't have singing footage of the Only Boy in the Choir, I thought you should experience at least some small taste of another original one-of-a-kind ..."What a Wonderful World," by Louis Armstrong.
And, there aren't any girls singing on this one.


Anonymous said...

Oh for footage...of you trying not to laugh!


Sue the sister-in-law said...

Okay, I definitely lost my professorial dignity as I checked your blog, Kelley, as I sat in the student lounge waiting for the lunchroom to open. I read this piece and could not help laughing out loud. By the end, tears ran down my face. I could just see Isaac navigating this with his usual wry style. I wish I had been there!