Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Little Bit of Fiction

I really can't think of what to write about so I'm posting a little bit of fiction that I wrote some time ago (and yes, it is copywrited)

The cast of characters:
Robbie: a 16 year old boy
Dannie: his 14 year old sister
Cathie: their mother
(ther are an "ie" family)
Tom: Cathie's husband, father to Dannie and Robbie
Sammy: the 6 year old staying with their family while his mother is out of the country
Stacey: Robbie's girlfriend
Ben: Stacey's little brother and Sammy's best friend

A Solstice Celebration

December was speeding by and it was time for Sammy’s school concert. Dad had something at work and so he and Mom couldn’t go, but Dannie and I went and I took Stacey and Ben with us. Ben wanted to see his new friend in the show and Sammy and asked Stacey especially if she would go too. It is really hard to say “no” to those big brown eyes. “Besides”, he told us, “there are cookies afterward”. The school had divided up the concert so that the first and second graders had their show on a Tuesday night, the third and fourth went on Wendesday, and fifth was all alone on Thursday. The kindergarteners did their holiday show for the parents during the day. From what Mom said, there had been previous problems with not being able to get all of the parents inside for the show and the show being far too long if they tried to do the whole school together. The show was pretty early so we didn’t do a real dinner first, just a snack and then we’d have dinner afterward.

We got to the school really early because Sammy had to get to his classroom an hour early. I couldn’t see why, they’d just all get restless, but I guess there are some people who come so late for everything, that they were afraid that half of the students wouldn’t get there on time. Anyway, Dannie stayed in the classroom to help Sammy get into his snowflake costume and Stacey, Ben, and I went to find seats in the cafeteria which also has a stage and gets used for performances.

The seats are very uncomfortable and close together. They had tried to decorate the room with lots of Winter scenes to make it festive, but there really isn’t any way to disguise a cafeteria. The concert was also what you would expect. I often wonder why there is even a piano on the premises because nobody can play it. It just sits there while they use karaoke CD’s to do all of the songs. At least it is a step above the old “record players” with old scratchy vinyl LP records that they used when I was in elementary school. Those must have been kicking around the school for decades and nobody ever bothered to convert them to a cassette tape or anything.

Most of the kids can’t sing. Well, they can sing, but not all together listening to each other and singing the same thing at the same time. It is almost painful and it is probably easier if you have a child on stage that you love more than anything else in the world. That way you can probably over look how bad it is. The classes come out one at a time and sing two songs each. Then at the end the entire two grades will surround the audience and we’ll all sing something together. That is how it has been done forever and no doubt when I am all grown and have children of my own they will still do it this way.

Sammy has been “fizzing , as Mom would say, about the concert for a couple of days now. He has even forgotten to “help” he is so excited. Dad loaned me the digital recorder so that I can record Sammy’s part of the show for his mother. We’ll load it on to the computer so that she should be able to see it tomorrow. She asked Mom to get Sammy a special outfit for the show and Sammy is really proud of it. It has a vest to match the pants, a long sleeved dress shirt and a clip on bow tie. He looks really cute in it, but I would never tell him that.

When Sammy’s class came out on the stage, Sammy was in the back row behind a really big kid. I couldn’t see him at all. I can’t believe that the teacher planned it that way. They usually have all of the little kids in front and the bigger kids in the back so that everybody’s parents can see. But no. We have a disaster here. Sammy is in the back row and his new outfit and his snowflake are all covered up by a bigger snowflake. I can’t record the numbers from here. Sammy’s Mom won’t be able to see anything and Sammy will know that she can’t see anything…it will be an absolute disaster.

I am lucky that I am toward the front of the audience. They haven’t started singing yet and I move toward the front of the room. So does every Dad with a recorder who has a child in that class. Dannie is hissing at me to sit down and just watch from here. I am hissing back that I need to get Sammy on camera. She is mad at me and she is embarrassed. I am embarrassed too, but I am darned if I am going to go home and tell Dad that I didn’t get the recording, because Dad will certainly think that I just didn’t try. Stacey is pretending not to know me, but it is pretty hard because Ben is yelling, “Hi Sammy, Here I am!” and waving like a flag in a breeze and Sammy, bless his heart, is waving back at Mike but not as wildly, because the teacher no doubt told them not to wave at their parents. Well, Ben isn’t Sammy’s parent so he is kind of doing as told.

I am toward the outside of the room and I need to get toward the middle so that I can get a shot of Sammy at an angle. They haven’t started singing yet. The teacher is still talking, telling all of us how hard they worked and how proud she is and how proud we must all be of all of them. She tells the woman running the CD player that she wants number 24 cued up. She announces that they will be singing The Snowflake Song. I am still moving toward a good position to see Sammy when the kids start to move. Darn. I was almost in position.

The little boys are moving down off the risers and onto the stage floor. Sammy is still in back. They start to sing “Snowflake, Snowflake, falling down….”

I am finally in a position where I can see Sammy. I have the recorder already running so that I don’t miss any of the song and I figure that now I’ll just try to focus on Sammy, but the boys are now moving to the music as they sing. Sammy and another boy change positions and Sammy isn’t on camera any more. If could get him on camera if I moved to the right but there is a man with a recorder standing there and I just can’t ask him to move.

I take a step to the left and move forward and I have Sammy centered in the viewfinder when they start to move in a circle.
“Snowflake, Snowflake, twirling round”
If I just stay where I am I’ll be able to get Sammy into the shot in a couple of seconds. There he is! Almost there! My mind flashes back to the first Star Wars where they are trying to take out the space station…Almost there, almost there. And then, there he is fluttering his fingers making the snow fall and all the time singing,
“Snowflake, snowflake on the ground, landing there without a sound.”

Now the boys are moving back to the risers and the girls are coming down to do their part of the dance. I can only suppose that the teacher didn’t want to have the boys and girls dancing together because the little boys would push and shove and the little girls would fall down and cry and that would certainly spoil what is meant to be a meaningful and memorable concert. I have lost Sammy again in the crowd. I wasn’t prepared for choreography.

The girls make better snowflakes than the boys did. They are dainty and delicate and falling gently,

“Silver white in the moonlight…” they sing. “Pretty and cold, sparkle silver and gold…”

Sammy is now back on the riser. I got a few good shots of the back of his head as he was moving and now I am trying to focus on his face for more than a few seconds. Luckily they are now standing still. They begin the chorus again,
“Snowflake, snowflake falling down”.

I have him. He is singing and smiling and looking altogether like the perfectly put together 6 year old boy. I have him in focus and am adjusting for a close up. And the song is over and the girls are taking their places again on the risers.

I have one more chance. The teacher compliments the class on how well they did and announces that now they are going to sing Frosty the Snowman.

Robbie is trying so hard to try to get a video so that Sammy’s Mom can see the concert. I was really embarrassed when Robbie started moving up front with the camera, but I guess I shouldn’t be because everybody else with a camera is moving too. They are trying to do it quietly, but with so many people moving there is definite rumbling and scraping as the chairs are nudged across the floor and out of the way. Some of the Dads and big brothers squat down so that people can see. Mostly they just stand in the best position they can get and film away. Sammy is now in front of the bigger snowflake, but he is next to a little girl who is trying to move to another position on the risers. I can only suppose that she is out of position and instead of just staying in the place she landed in after the snowflake dance, she is trying to get to her correct place. She is a very pretty little girl in a red dress with plenty of white ruffles. The problem is the big bows in her hair and the full skirt of the dress. She tries to cut in front of Sammy and he steps as far back as he can on the riser. Thank goodness they aren’t on the top. They are singing about Frosty coming to town and she is scooting in front of Sammy. Slowly, bit by bit as though if she moves slowly enough, nobody will notice that she wasn’t in the right place. From the side of the stage the teacher is frantically trying to stop her from moving, but the little girl is facing straight toward the audience and she doesn’t see. Sammy is now completely covered by hair bows and red dress. There is no way that Robbie will be able to get Sammy on camera.


If the little girl just moves a little more to my left I’ll be able to see him. She is finally to the right of Sammy and steps back into position, Sammy adjusts a bit to the left and all is well again. Just in time for;
“Thumpity thump thump , thumpity thump thump look at Frosty Go.”
I have him on camera, in focus on his face and manage to catch about 10 seconds of Sammy as Frosty goes over the hills of snow and the song is over. Dang.


Robbie, very wisely did not let Sammy see the video when they got home. Sammy was wild to see the show, but Robbie told him that he needed Tom to help him get it on to the computer. Luckily for him, Sammy wasn’t technically savvy enough to demand a playback on the recorder. When Robbie first saw the recording after he got Sammy to bed he was pretty sure that we couldn’t salvage anything worth watching, but when Tom got home and saw it he thought that we could salvage something worthwhile if we were creative. A marathon editing session ensued.

First, Tom and Robbie separated the sound track from the video. They cleaned it up in the computer, don’t ask me how, and it sounded pretty good for a school production done in a multipurpose room with people moving around. Then they isolated the parts of the video that showed Sammy clearly. They looped some of them so that they had enough video to match the length of the songs. They left in the teacher’s introductions, the boys and the girls dancing to the Snowflake Song, and the video that showed the back of Sammy’s head moving onto the risers after the dance. The little girl in the red dress will forever be standing at Sammy’s right and not crossing in front of him. Sammy’s Mom will probably realize exactly what they did, but unless Sammy tries to lip read and is successful, he won’t know that it took Tom and Robbie over 6 hours to edit something that looked like a pretty decent recording of a Holiday show.

No comments:

Post a Comment