Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Smalltown Church Stories I

(another one from the original blog, similar to the Pentecostal Zombies trilogy - I'll have to someday soon continue this "series"):


From birth to high school graduation, I attended a smalltown baptist church, in which a good majority of my family also were members. There's so many things to tell about that little holy house of hypocrisy - the backstabbing and talking about other members behind their backs, among other things.

One young member, Kristin, who was a year younger than myself, was her mother's church talent puppet. Every few weeks, Kristin was forced to bring up her boom box to the front podium, and share her "talent" with the congregation. This went on for as long as I known the girl to be a church member; over a decade. And what a torturous decade it was......

There was only one problem: Kristin couldn't sing, to save her life. I'm not poking fun or being unnecessarily mean - the girl sounded like a dying vulture. Not a single note was in tune, or as Simon Cowell would say, "it was all over the place". Even William Hung was more tolerable, and I'm being dead serious.

The best description of her "singing style" is it sounded like she was reading the lyrics aloud as the instrumental music played along, with a nervous, scratchy and unsure voice.

When our pastor would randomly surprise us with the news of a performance on a Sunday, it was like the entire congregation who heard Kristin sing before had to brace themselves. When the music started and Kristin began her hoarse speak-singing, everyone was either stiff as a board, were sliding down in the pews, were covering their faces to hide their expressions, or were totally jaw-on-floor with horrified looks on their faces.

Many church visitors who showed up for one of her many, many performances never came back - and I don't blame them.

One Sunday, Kristin (or should I say her zombie homely Crystal Gayle with no makeup mother) selected the tune "Silver And Gold" by Dolly Parton (not the song from the popular Rudolph movie). It's a performance even my brother remembers quite well and reminds me of from time to time, complete with an impersonation.

Her singing sounded like something had been shot, and was dying of agony.

I tried everything to get her ghastly wailing voice out of my head - from laying down in the pew and closing my eyes, to thinking of dead kittens and other horrible things, to keep from laughing.

With her grand finale of screeching "siiiiiiilveeeeeer aaaand goooooooolllld", I just totally lost it and burst out laughing. I was so embarrassed that I had to step outside and get some fresh air.

It's no surprise that Kristin packed her shit and fled from home the moment she was legally old enough to leave. I felt sorry for the girl, because she knew she couldn't sing, but was pretty much forced to perform anyway.

Had she lip-synced or something, it may have been a different story.

More smalltown church stories later..........

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