Thursday, October 16, 2008

It all started at a Thanksgiving Eve church service

I was there. Jon was there. Gwenn and Nick were (I think) there. My parents were there.
The place: Mt. Olivet Methodist Church, Manteo, NC.
The event: a community-wide Thanksgiving service.
The minister/speaker/song-leader: shall remain nameless because I don't want him to find this in a google search of his name.

I should preface this by saying that Gwenn and I have a life-long commitment to giggling in church. My mother used to have to separate us (and that didn't always work). Even when we were "grown-up" (college-age) and should know better, some less-interesting parts of church would find Gwenn and I passing scribbled notes on the bulletin, turning purple and shaking with suppressed laughter. If Mommy was near enough to smack or elbow, she'd do it, but we were pretty strategic about staying far enough away so as to avoid it.

But I digress. The "pastor" that night (and the reason I use " " is a. I like them and it reminds me of Chris Farley and b. I'm not entirely sure that this guys pastoring credentials were legit.) was a Unitarian Universalist (which I'm pretty sure boils down to "I'm OK, you're OK and there is no hell"), and his area of expertise, if you'd like to call it that, is like, the lute. (Renaissance-y era guitar with about 14 or 15 strings).

The "pastor" spoke about....I'm not sure what. I was probably passing notes with Gwenn. The notable event of the evening was the MUSIC! He led two songs - but not out of the hymnal, oh, no! He printed the words in the bulletin and attempted to teach it to the congregation. Oh, those poor Methodist and Baptist sopranos never knew what hit them. The first song was about all the things that the composer was thankful for. Some highlights of those lyrics are:

I've got a cat, he's a smelly old cat,
but I like him quite a lot, and he makes me want to say
THANK YOU! to somebody, THANK YOU!

That may not be an exact quote, but you get the picture. On the THANK YOU part, the melody line swooped precipitously upward and got REALLY loud for some reason. Also, do you like how the composer says THANK YOU to "Somebody"? Not God or Jesus or whatever, but Somebody.

The other song wasn't quite so lyrically inane, but it was written in some bizarre rhythmic meter like 15/8 or something. Also, keep in mind that we are being accompanied by a LUTE. Which is barely being picked up by the "pastor's" podium mic. The "pastor" also has a strange, reedy-sounding tenor voice that, I'm sure, is very well-suited to Renaissance music (with a hey-nonny-no, nonny-nonny-oh...or is it "nonny-no"? Gwenn?).
Anyway, the words to THAT song go something like:

We feel the wind...the winds of clear September
Waking our nerves, making us remember (I made up the second line...I remember the tune, though)
We feel the wind, clean and astringent winds of autumn blow!

I think we went through all the seasons, though.

We laughed SO hard and for SO long about those stupid songs. It is also worth noting that although the songs were pretty challenging to sing (not something that's really easy to teach to the average church-going, hymn-singing person), the "pastor" seemed to get insulted when we didn't all get it on the first try. I mean, the sentiment "You're not really even trying!" came out of his mouth in a very indignant tone. From the pulpit.

This was the first Thanksgiving Jon and I were together; we may not have even been married yet (it was either right after we got engaged or our first Thanksgiving married). But thus has begun a long-standing tradition of mis-using songs for our own personal comedy. We make up alternate lyrics to songs all. the. time. For instance, one that's had real staying power for us was the "Spiderman" theme ("spiderman, spiderman...does whatever a spider can...")...except we sing it like this "Abbie-snail, Abbie-snail, leaving a little slimy trail" homage to her incredibly drooly slime powers (which she, regrettably, has not yet outgrown. It's completely not unusual to see her drool for no apparent reason. I should perhaps not joke about it, maybe it's something wrong. But it IS funny.).
We've gotten a LOT of mileage out of the "Hey there Delilah" song that I posted a spoof of last week. Mostly because all of our kids have a two-syllable first and two-syllable last name, so we can start any song with "Hey Katie Bender/ Hey Micah Bender/ Hey Abbie Bender" and go on from there. Jon is especially good at the rhyming ones.
It is additionally worth noting that the two original songs that started this have retained their ability to completely crack us up. Also, when we get separated in a big store, Jon will whistle the first part of one of the songs, and I know where to find him. It's like our own personal Marco-Polo game.

Happy Thursday, all! I need to go school my children.


Nick Mangine said...

"There's an iron law, Allen, nonny before ninny"

Nick Mangine said...

I've got a cat, he's an ugly little cat,
And he's got a crooked paw, almost no paw at all,
Still I say THANK YOU, to sombody

Gretchen said...

Nick...HOW in the WORLD did you remember that? Do you remember the "clean and astringent winds" song, too?

Nick Mangine said...

I don't think my memory is any better than yours. That's just the way I've always sung it in head.

It's probably not right. But either way, that evening was one that changed all of our lives forever.

Connie Garlick said...

So many thoughts when I was reading your post - Hal and I went to seminary with a Unitarian Universalist - the first and last the administration allowed into the seminary. I felt kinda bad for him, he took a lot of grief - and I think he's genuinely searching. But I know what you mean about thanking "somebody" - he just couldn't grasp the "somebody" being God -

And the songs - Hal and I do the same, as do my sisters - and we REALLY embarrass my nieces when we're near them. Ok, we do it intentionally, but they haven't figured that out yet.

As for "clean and stringent winds" - I could have used them when I was in my teens.

Melody Strayer said...

Hello-- I was totally there, too! And if you recall, I think it was the very same holiday season in which "HSP" was born into the world...

Gretchen said...

Perhaps yes, Melody...but if you recall correctly, HSP was birthed on Christmas Eve. I remember you were wearing that navy dress I wore for my junior recital.
OK, and the thought "HSP was birthed on Christmas Eve" just about made me pee my pants.