Friday, July 03, 2009

Triumphant return

I eventually get onto the fifth busload of returnees. We are dropped off at the Hilton. There’s a reception line of 15-20 VM Women cheering for us as we get off the buses.

It’s good to be us.

We walk the long block and across the parking lot back to the dressing room at the Sheraton. Mickey Bonesio’s already there, and I return his gold medal to him, again with thanks, and expressing the hope that I’ll have one of my own by the end of the day.

I change at a leisurely pace. With the delay in getting back on a return bus, I kind of suspect it won’t be worth my while to go back for the remainder of the first chorus contest session. Our black performance shirts are soaked with sweat, but we’re given the direction to hang them back up – we may wear them again for the Harmony Foundation Show tomorrow.

Back in “civilian clothes,” I take my bag and head to the snack shop. I order a couple of quick hot dogs again and then return to my hotel room on the tenth floor.

By the time I’m back in the room, it’s almost 1:30, and the chorus competition first session is only scheduled to last until 2:30. It'll take me a half hour just to get back to the Honda Center. Even if the session is running behind schedule, I wouldn’t see many choruses after I got back there, and then I’d just have to fight the crowds again to come back on the buses. No thanks.

I call Becky on her cell phone to let her know the change in plans. She’s not surprised.

The hot dogs disappear quickly, and then I stretch out on the bed and rest. My mind’s a whirlwind.

I’ve actually competed.

On the International stage.

With the Vocal Majority.

Of the tens of thousands of barbershoppers in the Society, most are content to meet, sing, and maybe occasionally perform, just for the fun of it. Only some of them ever compete, and of those who compete, most only dream of getting good enough for the International. And of those who actually qualify for the International, only a handful ever – ever – score high enough to win a medal.

And the Vocal Majority has not just competed, not just qualified, not just medaled, but won, again and again and again. Without irony, for thirty years they have been the “gold standard” of choruses.

Men have rearranged their lives to sing with the VM – we’ve had guys move to Dallas from all over the country, and even from Great Britain and Australia, and others “commute” hours every week to rehearsals, from Houston, San Antonio, even Louisiana. And somehow this incredible organization let me join them and compete with them, in what many people are now saying is the best VM performance ever.

It boggles my mind.

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