Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Handel's Elusive Messiah

I love The Messiah. The real One, and Handel's, both.

For years I have been wanting to hear it again somewhere, (Handel's, I mean) but every year for years on end, either we had scheduling conflicts, found out about it after the fact, couldn't afford the tickets....something.

One year...the last year I heard it, we saw it advertised in the Augusta Chronicle, and we, and various friends of ours descended upon the church who had posted the announcement. It turned out to be a small church with an awkward, dim, 70's sort of feel to it.
The greeters seemed a bit startled to see us show up. We wouldn't be able to see the performance, they said, because there wasn't enough room for them to be at the front of the church, so the singers, et al, would be in the balcony, behind and above us. And if we had coughs, would we please not go in? Because they were recording it and they did not want any coughs to appear on the recording.

Tyler had a cough. He sat down anyway and sucked his coughs up.

As valiant of an effort as they no doubt were putting forth, it wasn't quite what we had been anticipating.

That was the last time I heard it given, and I really wanted to hear it this year.
Really Really REEEEALLY.

My love of The Messiah goes back to my childhood. It got a sentimental boost when The Chief was entering my world and he happened to sit beside me at a Messiah performance one blessed Christmastime. That was the first he really noticed me, he told me once. I was already putty in his presence, but he was oblivious...

How did I get on this subject...

Let me see here...Ok. Yes...I really wanted to see the Messiah this year. I put out a plea on facebook for my friends to let me know if they heard anything about it being performed anywhere.

They rose to the challenge splendidly! I got messages tucked into my mailbox and replies to my post. One friend generously posted a whole list of places she had received from "a very reliable source".


I reviewed them and selected one that fit our nutty Christmas Season Schedule.
Then I told The Chief I was just going to immerse myself in the pleasure of anticipation.

And I did.

I also took the liberty to immerse myself in the pleasure of anticipating it on behalf of the natives, who did not appear to be properly anticipating it on their own behalf. Tyler, whose memory of hearing The Messiah was largely shapen in a darkish, retro-ish church where he defied the concerned greeters, said frankly, "I'd rather stay home. Can I stay home?"

"No." I told him. "You will love it!"

Todd said. "Will we have to dress in Sunday clothes? If we have to dress in Sunday clothes I do not want to go."

"Of course you do." I said. "But honey you will love it! I know you will!"

Our oldest son and his wife decided to go as well. He generously offered to call and see if you had to buy tickets ahead of time or if you just bought them at the door. He equally generously later turned that detail over to his wife. She generously actually did the job. The first time she tried calling the number posted with the announcement, no one answered. On a following day she tried again. The phone rang and rang and rang. Finally someone answered. She told them what she wondered. When and where could tickets to The Messiah be purchased?

The phone person seemed very vague, noncommittal, and generally clueless, but finally said it would probably be best just to buy them at the door.

Excellent! That's all we needed to know.

I called the Chief early today and reminded him when we would need to leave, so he could make sure to knock off work in time. We crammed homework and I fixed the fastest thing I could think of for supper.
And then we all got ready to go. The Chief and I wore coordinating clothes in festive hues.

Fun! Fun!

The church was on the far side of town, 45 minutes away, at least. We stopped at the ATM to get cash for the tickets. The Chief winced ever so slightly, but not enough to rob me of my joy.

Scott was coming as well, in his own car, with his wife and his backseat full of people who had come from 30 minutes even farther away than we.

But we got there before they did. And were one of the first ones apparently.

 The only ones, in fact.

The parking lot was empty. The church was dark. What had we gotten wrong? The place? The time? The date? Dustin pulled the facebook post up on his phone. All the numbers and date were as we had thought.

Scott and his carload pulled up beside us and we discussed the mystery with them a bit there in the dark vacant, parking lot.

"Maybe they built a new church somewhere." said the Chief, for lack of a better explanation.

Dustin looked up the address. "This is the right address." he said.

He pulled up the announcement in the "Events" section of the Augusta Chronicle on his phone.  "It says, 'First Baptist Church of Evans on the 17th of Dec. at 7:30."

Then after a pause he said, "Hey, this was from a 2010 edition of the newspaper."


The hilarious absurdity of it all hit me suddenly and I broke into wild laughter, and the tribe joined in.

Sooo...that was that.

"Well, what shall we do then?" we asked one another.

The Chief decided he wanted to go to Home Depot to look at some reciprocating saw, or something.
We girls decided we wanted to go to Hobby Lobby.

Home Depot was closest and we were shortly there.
The guys piled out. We girls sat in the parking lot and waited. And waited.

"We looked at other things, too." they explained helpfully when they returned.

On we went to Hobby Lobby. They decided to drop us off at Hobby Lobby and go on to Best Buy while we did our thing. After all, I had just told The Chief a few days previous that someday I wanted to go and spend all day in Hobby Lobby if I wanted, with a bunch of money. Waiting in the parking lot was clearly not in their best interest.

I did not have my purse. I did not have my phone. I had been planning to go to church, after all.

The Chief pulled up in front of the store, reached for his wallet, peeled off a few bills and handed them to me with the air of a man trying to salvage the night for his wife. We spilled out, and headed for the front door not at all unhappy with our substitute plans. The guys took off down the street.

At the front doors a lady stood facing arriving shoppers as if she had a message. In fact, she did have one, and she delivered it matter-of-factly. "We close in five minutes." she said.

We turned around and walked back out into the dark sidewalk. I looked at the disappearing vehicle. It was well beyond the range of even the most wildly gesturing, loudly screaming woman. Not that I would have done that.

"We could go to Bath and Body Works!" said Regan.

Great plan. My two girls and I headed down the sidewalk with only slightly dampened spirits. But Bath and Body Works was closing too. Who closes at 8PM the week before Christmas??

We turned and walked back up the sidewalk, as if one place on the sidewalk was better than another. It seemed preferable to standing still.

I considered our situation. I had no phone, and  I knew good and well The Chief intended to leave us there in sweet peace and pure HobLob shopping bliss for quite some time. He's just that kind of man.

"I'm going to borrow someone's phone." I said. I did not want to be stranded in the dark parking lot of a closed store, while the mighty Chief and his valiant sons sacrificially put in as much time as they could stand at Best Buy.

This was clearly a desperate move for an introvert such as I, but I could think of no other plan.

We could start out in search of Best Buy, I supposed. But I wasn't quite entirely sure where it was. And what if we got there and they had changed their minds and gone somewhere else? And then what if they returned in the meantime to a dark store and no one was around? No. I could not start traipsing over town with two girls in "Sunday clothes".

I had to borrow a phone.

Women were streaming out of the store. It was closed now, and they were being shooed out in droves. I approached the first one that emerged from the doors when we got there. Trying to look as harmless as possible, which wasn't really all that hard, I said, "Do you have a phone I could borrow?"

She was altogether gracious and accommodating, pretty much like every woman feels as she is walking out of Hobby Lobby.

"Honey...." I said, with the strange phone to my ear and the strange lady listening in. I don't know if he was at all surprised to hear that coming from a totally foreign phone number or not. If so, he hid it well. "Hobby Lobby closed at 8." I said, "So we're just out here on the sidewalk. Could you come get us?"

I thanked the kind lady and we betook ourselves to a bench positioned down the sidewalk a spell for people like us, and waited for The Chief and Sons.

Before long we saw them coming down the street. They pulled up. We piled in. I handed the Chief the roll of bills he had just handed me. "I'm sorry, Babe." he said. He did not look entirely devastated, but he seemed sufficiently sympathetic. "It's okay, really," I said. "Life is too short to spend it disappointed."

We headed for home.

And then, with a sudden burst of inspiration, The Chief decided to go to Krispy Kreme for doughnuts.
Can you think of a better way to salvage an evening? I can't, frankly.

He pulled in, and for one dreadful moment we thought they might be closed. But they weren't! They weren't!!!

He bought two dozen, piping hot, and we lit into them immediately. If you have never had one hot off the presses, you cannot know how ethereal it is. But you should. Really truly you should.

It can fix almost anything. And what one won't fix, two will. especially if you have them with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Believe me.

You have heard this from a very reliable source.


Postscript: I have absolutely no doubt that my generous friend had no reason not to trust her source, and I furthermore have no doubt that her very reliable source fully believed their information was accurate and was doing their best to be helpful. We bear nothing but appreciation and goodwill in our hearts for their benevolence to usward. And if any of y'all hear of The Messiah being presented anywhere near our town in 2015, we would love if you would let us know! Thank you!