[Updated to reflect the proper name of the YL Arts Alliance and a link to their Messiah Sing Along web page]
It's amazing how much power a single phone call can generate. In the last few days, we've had a couple of phone calls that demonstrate this principle, and are interesting because of the reactions they generated.
In the past I have received phone calls from choirs or repertory companies offering me a chance to sing or act for some special occasion. These calls never come at a convenient time. That is, the gig is never planned for a convenient day on my calendar. Just as frequently, the offer will come during an incredibly busy period for our family, and I decline in order to preserve some small amount of sanity.
Mrs. Woody answered the phone first the other day. When she announced that the caller was from the Yorba Linda Arts Alliance I had two immediate reactions: First was, "Aw, nuts. Now what?" Then, microseconds later, "Ooh. Wait. It must be that time of year."
That time of year, of course, is Christmas. Now, I realize that Christmas doesn't officially arrive until after Thanksgiving, but no one seems to have notified the retailers this year. Our local Costco had their Christmas stuff on the floor before Labor Day this year. I can still remember a time when we were scandalized that our local stores put Christmas stuff on the shelves as soon as Halloween was merely a "passing" memory. [Insert your own intestinal fortitude joke here.] Next year I fully expect to see Christmas merchandise on the shelves on July 5th. But I digress...
The beginning of the school year has always been associated with Christmas for me because I am a choir boy. From the time I was able to read music, I have started rehearsing Christmas music almost as soon as school was in session. This drives Mrs. Woody crazy, because I always want to get my Christmas music collections out and start listening to them in September, while she would prefer to wait until after Thanksgiving. And I mean, one minute past midnight on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Two minutes after that, she will expect the Christmas tree to be assembled and decorated. But my digression deepens...
What the Yorba Linda Arts Alliance called for was to invite me back to do the tenor solo for this year's Messiah Sing Along at the Nixon Library. This is deeply flattering to me, and I of course said yes. They had asked me to do this last year for their "first annual" Sing Along, and apparently the lack of bad reviews meant I must have done okay. There's talk of "full Baroque costume" for this one, but I'm not taking that seriously yet.
The second phone call of note came just this evening. In the Church, phone calls from priesthood leaders saying that they would like to "visit with you for a few minutes" are generally about as welcome as hearing from your friendly neighborhood IRS auditor. This generally means that someone is about to receive some new calling that will take you out of your comfort zone, in the sense that Torquemada would like to give you a little stretch on his new rack. When the caller insists on visiting with you that very evening ("Would it be inconvenient if I came by in, say, the next 15 minutes?") the tension level rises accordingly.
I actually fielded this one. The phone rang, and I was late getting it. As I listened to the voice message, I shot a "boy, are YOU in trouble" smirk at Mrs. Woody. When I told her that a High Councilor was wanting her to call him back as soon as possible, her sweat glands began working overtime. (I know, I know... ladies never sweat. Then why am I constantly purchasing deodorant for mine?)
Turns out this was not for a calling. In some ways, this was worse. In just three weeks there will be a 20 year anniversary celebration for our Stake, and the current presidency wants to give the two previous presidents each a scrapbook as a memento. Mrs. Woody's name came up as an expert in this field, and they wanted her to take the job. I say worse, because putting together a good quality scrapbook is not generally something you can just slam together in a few short weeks. Still, Mrs. Woody was relieved that she wouldn't have to give up any of her current callings, and accepted the job.
Mrs. Woody has a wonderfully artistic eye, and it shows in nearly everything she does. She actually studied graphic arts briefly in college before settling on education, and has been asked to create posters in just about every ward she's ever lived in. Now she's becoming known for her prowess as a scrapper, and I couldn't be prouder.
Still, one has to marvel at the ability of a relatively simple piece of technology to cause such a gamut of emotions in a short amount of time. The phone, as annoying as it often becomes (even with no-call laws on the books), can be a harbinger of joy or doom. It can either make your day, or ruin it. It can cause tremendous fear, or generate feelings of absolute elation.
No wonder my Dad always wanted to rip it out of the wall.