Saturday, January 2, 2010

Saturday night dreams

My very first regular church gig was at a Catholic church in Madison, Wisconsin. Until I auditioned, I had never touched an organ. "Church Musician" certainly wasn't a career path I had ever considered while we were lighting the Hanukkah candles at home, but I needed a job and the church needed a capable sight-reader. It was a match made in...well, Madison, but I think I said that already.

The church had three services every Sunday morning, the earliest beginning at 8:00 a.m. In the winter, 8:00 was pre-dawn. So it didn't take long for the dreams to start:

I had overslept: it was 8:40, the first service would be over in twenty minutes. I leapt out of bed in a panic and ran to church, naked, through the rain, striving to move forward even as the wind and viscous air held me back. I arrived inside the dimly lit church just before the final verse of the third hymn. The organ loft had disappeared, and the console was situated in the middle of the mostly empty theater seats (upholstered in burgundy velvet), leaving me exposed (so to speak) as I finally slid onto the bench in my underwear (not sure where the clothes came from, but I was happy to take what I could get). Yet no one noticed my embarrassed entrance: the congregation had their eyes on the altar and their voices raised to Heaven. There was no time to leaf through the hymnal--the second verse was almost over--hurry, hurry! Thank goodness I still had perfect pitch back then. I immediately recognized the key of the hymn, but--oh curse you, you crappy electropneumatic Austin!--the organ was out of tune, a full quarter tone sharp, so that when I joined in on the last verse (timing my entrance so it would be as subtle as possible), the entire congregation took note and turned to scowl at me.

Eventually, I found a cure for the recurring dream. To this day, I set two alarm clocks before I go to bed on Saturday nights: an electric one and a battery powered one. Neither is sufficient on its own, for there's always a risk the power will go out or the batteries will die. The electric clock has two different alarms that can be set independently, and it sits next to my bed. The battery powered clock sits across the room to prevent snooze-button accidents.

Tomorrow morning I will play my first church service since our return to the U.S. It's a rare one-service Sunday. I won't be late until 10:01, and the tail end of jetlag will be on my side. Nonetheless, I know what I'll be dreaming about tonight.

2 comments:

Aging Reader said...

And I always dreamed I had slept through a full semester of a course I was supposed to be teaching, and somehow no one called it to my attention.

mom2homer said...

I think I took that class! That's the one I forgot to attend all semester long, and I was totally lost on the final exam. Then I woke up.