I’ve kept up with the Kanawha Kordsmen since joining two years ago, but I don’t get to every performance (or even every practice).
Year one, I went up to the Barbershop Harmony Society’s Johnny Appleseed District convention in Cleveland, but I didn’t go last year. There was too much going on with me and getting away for the weekend seemed impossible.
I knew I wanted to go this year, but, as usual, I was behind in getting everything worked out. I’d thought about getting a hotel room for the weekend and then for just one night and finally went with driving up for the day with a couple other Kordsmen who needed to get home before dark.
I also hadn’t tried on my Kordmen uniform since before Christmas.
With days before the contest, I broke out the signature lobster red jacket and black cabaret shirt (I didn’t know that was what it was called until somebody said they words out loud).
I half expected that they’d be fine. I’m a broad shouldered, big necked guy, but the jacket swallowed me up. The shirt was like a tent.
I emailed John Fuller, our “quartermaster,” and explained the problem, which was barely a problem. I could just swap out the jacket and get a new shirt.
For those of you interested, I’ve gone from a snug 48 Regular to a 44 or 42 Regular, depending on the material and the style.
I didn’t worry about the pants because the tuxedo pants are long and I’d need to have them hemmed. That seemed like too much of a hassle, given the amount of time left.
All I really needed was a good belt. I needed to buy a belt anyway. No problem. I could get one at Gabe’s for a couple of bucks and also check out the store’s selection of Captain America t-shirts.
I spent an hour digging around for a black, leather belt and with only a few hours before I was supposed to meet Kirk King and Phill Warnock to ride up to Columbus, I thought, “Oh, I’ll take a picture of me in the outfit for the blog.”
At that point I noticed that tuxedo pants don’t come with belt loops and that I couldn’t keep them up, even after stuffing my jacket under the waist.
I felt like an idiot. Waiting until the last minute was entirely me, but also entirely stupid.
The next morning, I left the house with my uniform and a couple of clothespins in my pockets to hold up my pants –a time-honored, hillbilly solution.
All I had to do was get through the performance –about five minutes on stage– without my pants dropping to my ankles and I was golden. I could throw on a t-shirt and shorts or just sit down, if I wanted.
But the clothespins weren’t really doing the job. As I walked around, I kept having to adjust my pants or catch them before they slid over my hips.
I began to worry. We talked about stapling the slack out of the waist, but I wound up just borrowing a spare pair of suspenders from John.
“I’ll want those back,” he told me.
The suspenders were a godsend.
Our performance, like at the last convention, was kind of a blur, but I thought we sounded good.
We performed two song, “Time after Time,” an old tune Frank Sinatra did in the early 1940s and “Zing! Went the Strings of my Heart,” that Judy Garland did in the 1930s.
We’d been working on them for months, until the point that “Zing” had turned into an ear worm for me. I’d woken up humming it and would sometimes sing it to my dog.
The audience at the convention was on our side, but I have no idea what the judges thought –and I didn’t stick around. Phill, Kirk and I hit the road back to Charleston.
I regret that. While the drive up and back was good, I felt like I missed out on a lot by not being part of the convention for longer than an hour or two.
During my first year, I’d been a participant, but also on a mission to observe. It was hard to enjoy too much of what was going on when I needed to stay just slightly apart.
So, probably, next year, I’ll just do the whole weekend –and maybe try on my uniform a little earlier.