Imagine yourself singing in front of thousands of people. For myself, this brings a sinking feeling in my guts. My wife tells me I have a great voice, but I think she says that in order to get the credit card for the weekend shopping spree. Regardless, singing in front of people is not my thing and never will be my thing. I did sing once in front of a crowd, at my church, and I fully understand how a mistake can make what is an embarrassing and tense moment turn into the things nightmares are made of. My moment of embarrassment came as I and another guy sung “Your grace still amazes me” by Phillips, Craig, and Dean. As I gripped the paper with the words of the song written on it, the heat and sweat emitting from my hands was turning the blue ink into a gob of mess thus ending my only lifeline. As the lights of the church’s spotlight shined down on me and the opening notes of the song started to play, I slowly opened the paper, but did not yet look down as my singing partner was taking the opening verse. I knew the chorus and simply joined in as it came time, but then my moment was coming up for the second verse. I heard the notes that were my cue to start, I stepped up to the mic and glanced down at the paper in order to have the first line fresh in my mind, yet to my horror all I saw was a blue blob where the words once were. My stomach knotted, my forehead started pouring sweat, my body was shaking and I knew I was in trouble. All the practice sessions and yet I could not remember the first word or even the second. Time slowed down, the 500 or so in the congregation seemed to have tripled to 1500, every eye was on me, and I prayed for God to make me pass out or even have a stroke. I remember little, but I do remember turning to my singing partner with what must have been the most horrified look ever on a face. I was screwed and I needed him to know how bad it was. Luckily for me, he was a seasoned pro when it came to singing in church and he had seen that look before. As the second verse started, he simply continued singing which allowed my to get a grip and join in making it look as if it was planned that way. As the butterflies left and my memory returned, I was able to compose myself in time to sing the third verse which I was the lead in. As I ripped out the phrases, “Its deeper, its wider, its stronger, its higher” I had my mojo back and was able to regain a portion of my pride all thanks to the saving help given to me by my singing partner.
Now over the years we have been unlucky enough to hear renditions of the Star Spangled Banner sung by such sea cows as Rosanne Barr, and it leaves a bad taste in our mouths. We have all seen the poor schmucks who were brave enough to get in front of many people only to forget the words or realize they do not sound nearly as good live as they do in the shower. But this young lady was different. She knew the words, she was prepared. Her voice, although still not quite developed, showed she belongs on the stage and yet Murphy’s Law was going to strike.
Murphy’s Law states, in its most simple form, if it can happen it will. Well this young lady got a lesson in Murphy’s Law. As she rounded the corner of the song heading for the end, her microphone went out. All the crowd could see now was the moving of her lips, yet no sound. In this day and age, being young does not protect one from getting laughed at by insensitive people. It is what we expect to happen. Laughing at a joke made at another persons expense is a multimillion dollar business in this country. And in this case, one started to get her kicks at the expense of this brave young girl. But then something happened that does not happen often. The offensive lady who found it appropriate to cackle at this poor girls misfortune was told to be quiet via a shooosh. She was put in her place by the other spectators. Maybe in a different situation, they would have joined her in the laughter, but not this time. This young lady had made herself vulnerable in order to give our country honor and it was not the time to use her misfortune as our entertainment. The crowd put this lady in her place. But then they went further. Maybe it was out of respect for the little girl’s effort, maybe it was done out of honor for our national anthem, or maybe a wee bit of both. But this time, instead of laughter, the crowd took over the singing. They gave this girl her moment, saved her years of possible therapy and a lost interest in her God given talent, and they paid homage to our country all in one moment. Even the pro players joined in to save the moment and the girl’s pride and even gave a loud stick tap at the end of the song.
So next time you are sitting in a venue where the flag is raised and the national anthem sung, stand up, place your hand over your heart, take off your hat, stay silent, and do not be afraid to not only quiet those around you who have no respect, but be prepared to sing. In fact, sing anyways. This is our country, be thankful for what you have and the men and women who bought what you have with their own blood, sweat, tears, and even their own lives.
But now to a lighter side of life where laughing at another persons expense may be OK. No, let me change that. This lady has earned our contempt and our laughter. Laugh away my friends, laugh away. We could only wish the next one to be caught on tape is our esteemed messiah, Obama.