When my friend, Scot, broke the news to me that he was leaving Seattle and moving to Oregon, I decided then and there that he was dead to me. How could he up and leave when he makes up about 25% of my Seattle social circle? Ok, maybe that’s not true anymore, but he was a pivotal part of my Seattle integration when I first moved here (Seattle adventures such as “Boxing Ring VIP” were Scot initiated).
So when Scot asked me to meet him at a church at 9.30pm on a Sunday night to hear a choir sing and an organist perform, I was hesitant. Didn’t he know that I don’t want to get out of my sweatpants and go out in the cold and the rain once it is so close to double digits on the clock? I sighed and rallied my energy to put on real pants and make an effort to be a good friend before he abandons me.
I showed up to St Mark’s Cathedral and grabbed a pew in the back. I listened to the choir warm up, and I watched as people quickly filled in the pews. Then a group of people that were around my age started putting blankets up by the altar and lying down on the ground. I watched in shock, wondering what would possess someone to lie down on the ground unless they were stoned out of their minds, ready to listen to music. I couldn’t get past the thought of being on a germ ridden ground lying next to a complete stranger.
Scot grabbed a seat next to me, and whispers, “It’s fucking beautiful in here, isn’t it?”
“You can’t drop an F BOMB in a CHURCH,” I hissed back, as if I don’t have the mouth of a sailor.
“Did I? I didn’t even notice?”
Something about being raised in a big Catholic family instilled the fear of God in me about sacrilege in a church. Not to say I’ve never sworn in one. Or watched in horror as a priest dropped a host on the floor during my cousin’s wedding and then proceeded to pick it up and put it back in the bowl for some unlucky patron to ingest. I considered it a miracle that I had already made it through the line. I make a solid effort to respect the fact that I’m in a cathedral though.
I watched as the choir walked through the mangled bodies of stoners chilling on the ground by the altar to make it to their post. Scot mentioned that he should have brought a blanket but forgot. I looked at him like he had five heads.
“Do you know me at all? I’d rather die than lie on the diseased floor next to a complete stranger,” I responded.
We listened as the choir sang. The acoustics were perfect. It was a great idea, I had to hand it to Scot. Definitely worth the price of putting real pants on. That was a feat I had managed to do, but noticed that others had not.
I watched as a girl sitting on the altar, rolled over and read the letters “GLE” branding on the leg of her sweatpants. I hypothesized what the mystery word could be (struggle? wiggle? single? mingle? the possibilities were endless) and was let down to find out it was “eagle” because they were American Eagle sweatpants.
I wondered if these were her Sunday best sweatpants. Did she decide to leave the ones that say “Juicy” across the ass at home? Were those unacceptable in the House of God? Was there any consideration of putting on real pants before venturing out into the world?
A guy sat on the steps, nodding along with the choir. He held up his cell phone and was recording the songs, making a Jesus bootleg album to share with all of his friends.
Then the choir started singing a version of the “Our Father,” and one of the young guns sitting on the ground started mouthing the words as his girlfriend looked at him, in amazement, as if he was a psychic, predicting the words of the choir’s song.
Once the choir finished, the leader stepped over more altar sleepers in order to get to the pulpit and make the announcement that the organist would be playing a Bach fugue followed by Auld Lang Syne. He announced that people would have about 5 minutes to leave if they would like to exit before the performance.
I was appalled that people got up and walked away in droves. The packed cathedral was now down to a mere 20 people. I picked my jaw up off of the floor long enough to bitch to Scot about how I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and why did people not want to stay the extra 30 minutes to hear the organist. I called out all of the haters, and then watched as the two girls sitting in front of us sheepishly got up and walked out the door, making sure to avoid eye contact with my glare.
Apparently you can get stoned for Jesus and the choir, but an organ doesn’t make the cut. I looked up at the now empty altar and spied a random foot poking out from behind one of the poinsettias. Was this guy sleeping or intentionally waiting for the organist to start?
I love the feeling of the organ in my chest while it is being played. The Bach fugue was perfect. Then there were about 5 versions of Auld Lang Syne, and I was having a hard time knowing when it would end.
Overall it was a wonderful experience. The choir and the organist were all fantastic, and yet it still somehow was a quintessentially Seattle version of going to check out a church choir.
I said goodbye to my friend, thinking that I’ll definitely miss getting the random messages to go check out the Seattle church choir or to go to a concert in a basement of a boxing gym. But I’m slowly becoming a more seasoned Seattle-ite. And soon I will be the one to have the idea to make a friend put their big girl pants on and head out on a Sunday night to check out a church choir, Seattle style.