Monday, October 16, 2006

Pioneer District Barbershop Convention (prologue)

Coordinating a trip to a barbershop convention is always a hassle for me. Between getting the time off work, coming up with the funds for the gas, food, registration, hotel, and other odds and ends, and of course clearing it with my dear, understanding (actually in this case, grudgingly complacent) wife, getting there can be a huge headache.

Sonya used to roll her eyes and tolerate my drum corps addiction with a forced smirk and pitying, yet loving shake of her head. She did so largely, I think, because at least she could relate to it, appreciate it, and even enjoy it a bit, having been in one. She could go to shows, watch the guard, critique the drill, appreciate the difficulty in the brass book, etc. She just didn't have the kind of mania I developed.

As the years went on past my aging out at 21, my involvement and immersion in drum corps faded in a bit. I'd go to fewer and fewer shows as time progressed and I became further removed from the activity – both in performance, judging, and instruction. Then at 27, I discovered my newest addiction and finally joined the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (now simply the Barbershop Harmony Society).

"Great," I can hear her aggravatingly sigh. "Another hobby/addiction to sap his time and money!"

Sonya has no real affinity for barbershop. She, as a musician, can appreciate it for its difficulty, performance demands, and emotion. She can even, after observing my drum corps mania for so many years, understand the appeal it has to me, having many similar characteristics (i.e. competition, music, camaraderie, and a chance for me to shine). But being an inherently patriarchal scene (when not incorporating the Sweet Adelines) and not relating well with the primarily 60-plus- year-old housewives of my fellow chorus members, she never really got into it. She has a beautiful voice, but unfortunately rarely sings in public. All of this combined with the fact that when I'm in one of my maniacal frenzies, totally immersed in one of my favorite things, I have a bad habit of ignoring all else and wandering off, making it hard for her to really enjoy joining me at events.

Thankfully, she tolerates it for my sake - in short bursts, anyway. She'll listen occasionally to my quartet when we rehearse in our home, even offering very helpful suggestions with our performance (and telling us which jokes just plain suck). She'll even put up with my playing barbershop music on rides in my car (that's more the rule of 'my car, my tunes' we both generally respect). Hopefully someday soon I'll join a chorus with a younger crowd with younger wives and families my family can better relate to.

I love you, Sonya. Thank you for enduring my hobbies, idiosyncrasies, quirks and bad habits!

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