Back from tour

So I got back from tour yesterday. I would have updated then, but I locked myself out of the house on my way to the house last night, and slept over.

So it was my last choir tour. And my last year of choir. And yet, I wasn't completely bowled over by it. No huge waterworks from my last concert.

I was choked up, sure. Hell, after giving nine years of your life to something, you'd have to be a stone not to feel anything. I got a bit teary, but that was pretty much it.

Maybe it's because I knew it was time to go on.

For the past few years, I've been feeling that my time would be up. I was part of the old guard. (Hell, I was part of the old guard five years ago. Canton, Wang Chung, Barber, Father Dave and I were defined as old guard back then.) But I made new friends and quickly became part of a new kind of guard. Which has become old guard again.

All of a sudden, I wasn't attending a whole bunch of choir events. Granted, that might have been because every major choir social event this year has been unfortunately scheduled for when I'm out of town or doing inventory after mindnumbing inventory at the store.

But a lot of the people I was used to hanging around with were gone. Girlone, for instance. Kristus, Beth, Blonde, Morris, etc. So many to name.

It was pretty much down to having our own small group that occasionally interacted with the younger crowd: Canton, Barber, Dev, MFJ, and me. Interspersed with Grank, Dell, 'Fro and a lot of others.

I was losing touch with what seemed to be the main bulk of the choir. Or maybe it was just that there really wasn't a main bulk in choir anymore. Just a whole bunch of splinter groups.

I don't know. In any case, it was time to leave. The anniversaries for choir are usually sort of purge years. People tend to stay around for a landmark and leave.

So many people are leaving this year: Me, Canton, Barber, Dev, MFJ, Father Dave, Ken, Carly, Ed, Sarah, Wang Chung, Erin, along with countless others I'm probably forgetting.

Grank was pretty worried about being one of the oldest members once we've left. He told me he wasn't looking forward to filling the shoes of his friends who are leaving, since now he'd be a five-year veteran, something not too many people can say next year.

I wrote in his program that he wouldn't have to fill anyone else's shoes. He'd just have to fit into his own.

It's a way of thinking I've had for a while: Who cares about the comparisons people will make about you if you're doing the job someone else used to do? If you do things your own way, and things get done, well then. You've made your own niche.

Ever since high school, when Heath was president of the student body the year after the omnipotent Chad Waughtal, he was furious whenever someone tried to compare the work Heath did to what Chad did. It was just that Chad was more of a glory hound, and so you always heard about what he did. As opposed to our year of student government, which was more of a collective.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, Grank shouldn't be worried.

Sure, choir's going to be different next year. After such a huge shift with outgoing members, how could it not be?

But as long as you recognize it as a completely different entity, it's not a good or bad thing that things have changed. It's just different.

* * *

So, since the past week has been so huge, I'm just going to throw down my most memorable moments of tour:

* Moose Jaw: It's been three years since I've been home, and there have been changes. The Joyner's building burned down. New businesses are coming in. My family renovated the basement.

My dog, Piers, hasn't changed much, despite lsoing sight in one eye. He still ran to the steps once I called for him. He still sniffed everyone who came to the house for a chili dinner. He still whined at 4 in the morning, waking up MFJ, and therefore, me.

The concert was supposed to take place at my old high school, Peacock Collegiate. Now that would have been fun. Coming back to the auditorium that I practically lived in for four years.

But, for some reason, the school board cancelled our booking, even though we had it for about two months!

Luckily, another school jumped in. Ecole St. Margaret's. My old elementary school. So that took me even further back.

People were amused to see my Grade 8 grad pic on the wall. The principal was my vice principal 13 years ago. She didn't recognize me. Maybe it's because I changed my glasses since then.

The morning after, we DID perform at my old high school after all. Just as a school concert. Still, I was running around the auditorium getting things ready. Jumping off the stage as I did so many years ago, my patented Centennial Auditorium one-handed side vault. It was just like I had picked up just like I left it ten years ago.

LJ, my drama teacher, was ecstatic I was there. He was telling some of the choir members about all my hijinks from my days there.

So Moose Jaw was a lot of fun.

* Jokes: Like the one that Dev and I came up with in Glasgow, Montana.

One member was trying to figure out who the tallest member in choir was, so they went to Dev and me. Neither of us had a clue for them, so we tried to figure out who the tallest people in choir were. After listing off some names, I said, "Canton...MFJ..."

Dev laughed, and tried to explain the logic. Apparently, Canton and MFJ are giants. About nine to eleven feet tall. Unfortunately, our brains can't process that sort of height, and we shrink them to a manageable height of 5'5".

I asked Dev, "So how are they able to get into places? The doors are too small!"

Dev: "They duck."

At which point we both die laughing.

When Barber and I were being billeted in Glasgow, I decided to do some laundry. I threw in our tux shirts, and Barber wanted to put in some t-shirts, including a blue one.

Since the tux shirts were in there, I threw in a little bit of bleach. Not a huge amount. But when I told Barber, his eyes went wide.

I said, "Look. If it gets faded out, I'll buy you a new shirt, okay?"

When the wash is done, I pull out the blue shirt, looking for patches of white. Nothing. I'm about to tell Barber his shirt's okay, but I get a horrible thought in my head. I take out a white shirt, taking it into the living room, and say, "See? No problems!"

He almost had a heart attack. I almost died laughing.

Unfortunately, the bleach did spot the shirt in some places. So if he does want a new shirt, I'll buy one for him.

* Meeting some new people:

Barber's and my billet partner, who I'll name Sweet.

He's a bell ringer, and a pretty fun guy.

During our "Be Your Billet Partner Day," he was portraying me. I was playing Barber. Barber was being Sweet.

On the trip to Moose Jaw, some people mention the fact that my sister's hot. Sweet replies, "Hey! Shut up! Hold on...How old is my sister anyway?"

It gets a huge laugh from our section of the bus. Dev, playing his brother, says, "Oh, Barber. Did you want me, Graeme to beat on him, Jago for you?"

* Weird coincidences: While staying the night in Preeceville, a small town in eastern Saskatchewan, I'm billeted with Canton and Wang Chung.

I'm downstairs undressing from the concert, when I see a picture on the wall of a very cute girl, who most likely would be the billet's daughter.

I curse the fact that she's not here, since Rule One of Billeting, according to Dev, me and a few others, is that all hot daughters must be one the premises.

During the concersation happening over a late snack, I tell the family that I'm from Moose Jaw.

"Oh, really?" says the billet. "Our son-in-law's from Moose Jaw."

Inwardly, I wince, since it means their hot daughter's married.

"Oh, yeah?"

"Yes. A boy named Thiessen."

"Yeah, there are a lot of Thiessens in Moose Jaw. I might know him."

"His name is Chris."

My jaw goes slack. "Chris Thiessen is your son-in-law? I went to school with him! We were in the same grade!"

He pulls out the wedding picture, and, yes, it's my friend Chris, standing with the absolutely smoking girl from the picture.

So not only is Rule One broken, they had the gall to marry her off to an old friend of mine.

* Hot tubbing with beer at my Lethbridge billet's house on the first night of tour.

I had a huge leg problem on the first day, and was really tired from the inventory at my store that ended three hours before I got on the tour bus.

I was walknig to the bus stop towards University when the 6 zoomed past. I started to run with 50 pounds of luggage on my back, when I pull my calf muscle.

And after a long bus ride, it didn't really help any.

Before we left the chursh to go to billets, MFJ tells me, "Now, as soon as you get there, I want you to go to sleep!"

I protest. "But he's got beer for us there! I wouldn't want to be an ungracious guest!"

"Okay," MFJ says. "One beer, and then off to bed."

"Okay," I mutter.

"No! You must promise!"

"Fine. I promise I'll go to bed after one beer."

When we get to the house, he tells us about his hot tub. The four of us choir members grin.

So we're in the hot tub, drinking beers. Bob shows up, since he's a friend of our billet's. Bob brings his daughter, Christine, and our friends Father Dave and Carly. Carly and Christine join us in the hot tub.

After I open up every new beer, I tell Barber, "MFJ's going to kill me."

When I look at my watch and see it's one o'clock and my billet George has just put a fourth beer into my hand, I say, "Yup. She's REALLY gonna kill me."

Luckily, the hot tub straightened out my pulled muscle.

* Staying in a massage parlour in Montana.

Our billet in Malta didn't have enough rooms to fit Barber, Sweet and I, but he did own the house next door. So we stayed in there, surrounded by the oh-so-relaxing smell of mint.

It was pretty comfortable considering I was laying on a mattress on the floor.

Those are all my huge memories from tour. As it is, this has been a pretty big entry.

I guess I'll just finish it up by saying I really enjoyed myself on my last choir tour, and I'll never forget the last nine years and all the friends it's brought me.

One more thing: On tour, I got to know a girl I'll call Innocence. She's the sister of one of the tenors, and she joined choir this year.

We were friendly all year, smiling and the like, but we never really talked much. We hugged every now and then.

It wasn't until the end of tour that I have her a hug and asked her how she was doing.

She seemed VERY responsive to my hug. After that, I'd see her looking my way every now and then.

Innocence is a very nice girl. Cute, sweet, and has a great smile. Christian, hence the Innocence tag. And she's eighteen. Which is why I really just kept it at the hugs.

I've fallen for a few younger women. Amy from Bentley's only nineteen. She was seventeen when we met. But that's just been a friend situation, since she's devoted to her boyfriend.

Innocence is single, and she seems to be interested in me.

I can usually see it when someone's interested in someone else. When it comes to me, though, I tend to second guess my instincts. Just in case it might be me seeing too much into it, or having an imaginary ego boost.

I guess it's mostly the age difference that keeps me from getting it any closer. I tend to find that young girls just out of high school don't have much in the way of life experience. And she's younger than my sister.

From my point of view, I have no problems being friends with Innocence, so I'll still keep that going over the summer. She asked for my email address, and I gave her my real one, not my hotmail one.

Still, I'll see where this takes me. At the very least, I'll get a good friend out of it. And after I get to know her, then I can decide if I want to take it any further.

Whoo! Maturity! Ain't it grand?

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