chris vs. the arctic

chris: 72 // the arctic: 47

My Debut

Have you ever started doing something that you knew wasn't going to end well? Like deciding to leave the house with no umbrella because it was only dribbling, but of course, it started to pour? Or drinking your third cup of coffee before a long car ride? Yeah, that's how I felt when I agreed to sing with Yamazaki-san at the Daimon Culture Festival...

Yamazaki-san is a short, spry woman who used to be the head English teacher at Daimon JHS. We had previously met when she invited me to cook a Japanese lunch with some elementary students a while back. I had an enjoyable time. It was certainly a one-time thing, I thought. I was wrong.

It all started when Yamazaki-san phoned me up at school. Her proposal to me: "Chris, do you know 'You Are My Sunshine?' You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when sky is grey [sic] ... Oh, you know it. Good. Let's sing the song together with my ukulele at Daimon Culture Festival."

My initial reaction wasn't my proudest moment -- bursting into laughter in the middle of the staffroom -- but it was warranted. Even though (for some reason) I was in the choir in high school, I could not possibly see me singing in public! But Yamazaki-san is a wily one. Using the exceptional convincing skills that only a verging oba-chan can possess, I agreed to do it. I mean, really, who would be there to hear me murder the song?

In the weeks following my agreement, I had several visits and telephone calls from Yamazaki-san regarding the performance. Each meeting with her brought a new element into the mix. The first: "So we will sing 'You Are My Sunshine' at the Daimon Culture Festival. ... Only that song. Also, 'Silent Night.' ... You don't know it? Okay, I'll bring you the words. ... Yes, just those two."

The second meeting (an early morning phone call [07:45]): "We are singing at the culture festival. 'You Are My Sunshine' and 'Silent Night.' I'll play the ukulele and organ. ... Yes, just those songs. And your national anthem. I have a music CD. Oh say can you see. ... Oh, you are from Canada? ... That's okay. You can sing it."

During the third early morning reminder phone call, I realised this train wreck had to stop. I pulled all my courage together, and I said, "Yamazaki-san, I cannot sing with you during the culture festival. I cannot sing." Her, "So just those songs. No more. Just 'You Are My Sunshine', 'Silent Night', your national anthem, and England's national anthem." Zoom! Right over her head. OR... she's that good. And I suspect she is.

Needless to say, I'm a big wimp who can't stand up to a 65-year old, 5-foot tall Japanese woman, and we sang at the festival...

After false-starting 'You Are My Sunshine' several times, we finally got it going. Some members of the unexpectedly-large audience started to clap along -- that is, until the tempo shifted more than once on the ukulele, making it nearly impossible to follow along.

After barely surviving the first song, it was my solo debut: 'Oh, Canada.' Oh, embarrassment, more like. I actually caught several audience members trying not to laugh!! I can also add this tidbit to my list of personal acheivements: "Missing Every Note In Canada's National Anthem."

Finally, it was the last song: 'Silent Night.' Incredibly, it wasn't that aweful. I actually hit the right notes and people got into it. But the mood was already soured by my almost treasonous redition of 'Oh, Canada.'

We bowed and gracefully walked off the stage. I continued to gracefully walk past the stares of the audience, straight to the coffee and cake at the back of the room (wishing there was some whiskey there as well)...

The act that followed our sad performance blew us out of the water. Cheaters. Cute kids always win!

The next time Yamazaki-san phones me up, I won't be in.
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On November 14, 2005, Blogger Gillian said:

Chris, that actually brought tears to my eyes! What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks were you thinking? You're an idiot. An idiot whose town has hear him sing "O Canada". Good luck holding you head up in public now!

On November 16, 2005, Anonymous heather said:

wow, silent night is not one you can really fake either... did you have to use the words to oh canada? i dont think i could sing it from memory. singing in japan should only be done whislt drunk at karaoke where custom dictates that no one can talk about it... im home now, give me a call some time...ha!    

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