This week has had some odd moments.
I’m Not Throwing Away My Shot
As I drove to choir rehearsal on Tuesday evening, I witnessed a fairly large group of young people (high school to 20s) gearing up for a fight. They were on the sidewalk and spilling out onto the road. Guys were charging toward each other, and a couple of them were pulling off their shirts.
I couldn’t decide if I should slow down or speed up. I was going to drive by about when the groups would collide. Could I find my phone to call 911? What if someone has a gun and shoots it? I could get hit by a stray bullet…
Though I had my windows up and music playing, I could their angry voices. I kept a steady speed and drove by. I looked in my rear view mirror as several people (males and females) physically put themselves between those who were intent on fighting. I admired their bravery and said a prayer of thanks for their courage.
I got a little further away and slowed down as I tried (again) to decide if I should call 911 or not . If I called, what would I say? Nothing happened; it just appeared that something was on the verge of happening. But what if the peace makers didn’t succeed?
I didn’t call. I went to choir. I wonder what happened.
Red Beans and Rice.
One of my food-related “guilty pleasures” is to have Popeye’s shrimp or chicken with a side of their tasty red beans and rice. As I hurried from my morning of teaching to an afternoon gig to accompany a group of singers for an hour long program at a senior citizen lunch, I realized I only had about 30 minutest to eat. I decided to drive through Popeye’s. Well, at least in the Milwaukee area, you need to be prepared for at least a 10 to 15 minute drive through “experience” but I figured that would still give me 15 minutes to eat.
There was only one car ahead of me and they were sitting at the ordering speaker. I took the risk. I watched the car clock tick away the minutes. I considered going to another fast food place (there were several in the near vicinity). I decided to stay. I ordered. I waited. My food appeared many minutes later. I didn’t want to sit in the that parking lot to eat so I drove away looking for a little nicer place to park.
I stopped at a library branch. I felt a little guilty because of the large warning sign: “Parking for Library Patrons ONLY. Violators will be towed.” I reasoned with myself that I AM a library patron because I borrow ebooks all the time and my library card is in the Milwaukee County Federated Library System. All of this is secondary to my upcoming drama with the red beans and rice, though.
The shrimp was hot and spicy. It was delicious. The chicken was hot and crispy, too. I saved the red beans and rice for last. I opened the container. Yes! They gave me a spork this time! (I have eaten them using the lid as a “spoon” more than once).
I was trying to open the plastic covering the spork and somehow managed to spill nearly ALL the container of beans and rice on myself. I was stunned. What on earth could I do to clean this up well enough to perform on stage with only a few napkins and only a few minutes to spare? As Dr. Seuss so famously said, “This mess is so big and so deep and so tall, we can not clean it up! There is no way at all!”
I was wearing black pants and shirt with a long red knit jacket over. The jacket had a batik -ish pattern printed on it. It was made so the serged seams were showing on the outside as part of the design. The fact that the jacket is somewhat reversible becomes an important point.
I got out of the car. I brushed off as much as I could. Birds and squirrels were going to have a treat. I used the spork. I used the napkins. Most of it came off, but there were HUGE splotches in several places.
I wondered if I could wear the jacket inside out? The decorative seams would be on the inside and the stains would most likely not show through as much that way. I only needed to find a pair of scissors to cut out the tag. It could work!
Ultimately, I wore it right side out. I did find scissors. I did cut the tag out. I did try it wrong side out. In the end it seemed best to leave it “as is.” Most of the staining was on the left side, which as it turned out would be facing away from the audience.
Moral of the story: Open your spork BEFORE you open your beans and rice.
The biggest lingering problem? A very strong fragrance of Eau de red beans and rice.
I accompany two children’s choirs. At the second rehearsal this week, during our break one of the girls told us about a lockdown at her school. She said it happened right away in the morning. There were police cars in the cemetery across the road from her school. They huddled in their lockdown positions for a very long time. She asked if any of us had been in a lockdown before and nearly everyone raised their hands (including me). She said she felt scared and began to cry. Someone asked did you find out what happened? Yes. There was a man digging his own grave and he shot himself in the head. She said she didn’t know if he died or not.
I told her I always feel the need to apologize to my students after a lockdown drill. I’m so sorry they have to go through such a scary experience. Most of the lockdown time I spend wondering if it is real or not and what I would do if someone came in shooting. Is this the day the unimaginable happens?
The school day went on as usual for the girl and her schoolmates. So many aspects of her story leave me feeling extremely sad and somewhat hopeless.
*A quick online search did not yield any shooting or homicide in the MKE area this week that matched this girl’s story. I wonder if the explanation she heard came from a teacher or a student. Sounds like an elementary school rumor, but one can’t be sure. Often real life is stranger than fiction.
*You can read about my very first lockdown experience here.