“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.” came a husky voice over the p.a. I shut off my walkman to listen to the message. “We have encountered some technical difficulties, which will be remedied shortly. However, I am turning on the seatbelt lights and ask that all passengers remain seated. Thank you for your co-operation.”
I didn’t like it, something wasn’t right. Being seated in the aisle had it’s advantages, like getting to the bathroom easily, but you couldn’t see out the window. I was seated in a group of people that I didn’t recognize at all, I was totally naked, yet did not feel in any way uncomfortable. Then I managed to get a glance out of the window.
The wing was bending severely, to the point where it broke open, spilling it’s cargo of fuel into the hot streams of exhaust from the engines, igniting. The entire wing blew apart, ripping part of the wall out, sucking out passengers left and right. No-one panicked, aside from myself. But my seatbelt wouldn’t undo. Fire swept into the cabin and began to engulf seats, carpets and passengers alike. It came closer and closer, I could feel the intense heat; I could hear voices, calling my name.
I sat upright in my bed, realizing that my mother was literally shouting at me. A dream, a rather nasty one at that. The clock beside my bed read 8:45 in the morning, and it looked nice outside. Deciding that I wasn’t about to get back to sleep, I proceeded to prepare myself for a very long day.
That was Easter Monday and April Fool’s day too, April 1st, 1991. My mind was already working on ways of making my day a living hell. After relieving myself of a large pressure that was exerting itself from my bladder, I snagged a bit of breakfast, which I knew I was going to need.
Then came the fun part. I had until that night to do the rest of my homework that was due during the week we would be in Florida. I sometimes felt that teachers should give us a break because we were on a school related trip, but I knew that the chances of them liking that excuse were limited to say the very least.
I had finished my book review the day before, it sat on top of my luggage (also done the day before) so I wouldn’t forget about it. My task was to complete part of my Scican project, and make sure it was handed in on Tuesday, by which time I would be in Florida. That’s where my sister came in.
I worked on it until about three o’clock, finishing three out of the four parts I had to complete. The only one I couldn’t do was a time line, the book I needed for reference was sitting in Therese Hollingsworth’s locker, I had neglected to get it before we left on Friday. I had thought that she might have it at home, but I was wrong, I found that out when I phoned her.
At about three, Chris phoned (I might have phoned him, I don’t remember who phoned who). We discussed the plans for that night, he asked if it was possible for an automobile to get around, as he needed cash for his car insurance. I eventually worked my way into getting invited up, I could drive him over to James Hieminga’s house for the pseudo-party to be held that night.
About a half hour later, I hopped in the family Caravan and booted on up to Chris’ abode up in Sherwood Heights. Chris was literally on the verge on taking a shower, having finished packing five days of clothes into a large duffel bag, which was not light. So while he removed the layer of filth from his body, I fooled around on his computer.
Amidst our activities, we were phoning Therese’s house to she if she had returned from shopping. Chris was borrowing cash from Therese so he could pay off his insurance, which was due while we were in Florida. Chris had recently lost his cash flow due to the recession.
About a quarter to five, Therese arrived home, I caught her as she literally walked in the door. We arranged the afternoon between Chris and Therese as best as we could, getting money and all. Then I phoned the bank to find out when they closed. Five. Chris and I took off for the car, and booted down to Therese’s, calling her from the car phone (don’t ask about the phone – it’s a long story!). When we arrived at her house, she was ready to roll. We arrived at the bank at 16:58 (4:58 in the afternoon to you non-military types). Unfortunately, the bank had closed.
We returned Therese to her home to pack her clothes (most of which were new, she didn’t like any of the clothes that she had) and get ready to leave. Chris got the permission to use Therese’s bank card, and we booted back to the bank, where Chris took out sixty dollars. He needed quite a bit more, but the machine would only let him take out sixty in one day. So I came into picture, and he snitched sixty bucks from me too!
We headed from there to Major Video, where we were to rent a movie or two for that night. After about twenty minutes (which is a relatively short time for us to pick a movie), we had settled for Eddie Murphy – The Best Of Saturday Night Live.
Then we drove back to Chris’. He had to have some dinner, his parents wouldn’t let him leave without it. We had to let James know that we were going to be a bit late. We still had to get some drinks and popcorn. At about 18:30, we headed out the door, Chris’ luggage in hand. Next stop was my home, to get my luggage and my sister (she had to drive the car back home). As we exited Chris’ subdivision, we had our first omen of a strange voyage, I nearly hit a Canadian Goose as it waddled across the street ahead of us. When we arrived at my home, I grabbed everything I could remember, and got all my homework assignments for my sister to hand in for me.
Ever have that nagging feeling when you think you’ve forgotten something rather important? Chris and I both had it, and we had good reason. Now, we didn’t notice all this until much later that night, but Chris had forgotten a bank card (to deposit his money), I had not only forgotten my headphones (a total disaster), but also my alarm clock, which we were going to need.
Anyway, my sister drove us out. Before we were barely out of our neighbourhood, the car phone rang. It was a mutual friend of my sister’s and mine, Alistair. He wanted to know what my sister was up to that night. He was told to phone back in about a half hour or so.
We ended up at Tim Hortons where Chris snagged some Timbits for us to munch on that night. We were now an hour late, we knew people were going to chew our heads off. We didn’t care at all though, we were going to be at James’ for a long time to come. We stopped at Barney’s Convenience for five minutes to get drinks, then we were off to James. No-one was pissed off at us, no-one else was there yet. So Chris and I got ticked off ’cause we were the first ones there! We removed the stuff from the van, and my sister disappeared into the cool night air.
So we began to have fun at James’. Tunes were the first priority. We listened to music for a while, inside a few games of table top pool (which is very hard to play compared to normal pool). Finally, at about eight or so, people began to show up. Stuart was the next to arrive on the scene. Not long after that, James brought out his watergun, which looked like a shotgun, and had a large range. Unfortunately, he did not bring it with him, it would probably have added a little excitement to our lives.
Then Linda appeared from out of the inky blackness. She seemed a little preoccupied with something (she may have been tired, I can’t remember if I asked or not), but she still laughed when Stuart nailed James in the crotch with the watergun. James was not terribly pleased about that little incident. Mind you, no guy would be terribly pleased, it looked like James had pissed in his pants.
Observer’s Log: Traveldate 40291.00
And so begins the wait. Six hours from now, assuming nothing goes wrong (not that it already hasn’t, might I add – I’ve already forgotten my alarm clock and my earphones), we ought to be well on our way to the warm sun o’ Florida. More entries to follow over the next twenty-two and a half (or so) hours.
Soon Therese, Kathryn and Hil arrived, all that were left to come were J and Ali. But first, an errand had to be run. Chris had to get to the bank at about midnight (I suspected that was when the bank machine would turn to the next day, so Chris could remove more money from Therese’s account), so I asked if it were possible to drop by my home to pick up the things I had left behind in my haste (I had also forgotten the popcorn, but we probably wouldn’t have eaten it anyway).
At first James was reluctant to do such a trip, but gave in once he found out that Chris had to go home anyway to pick up his bank card. So the three of us piled into James’ station wagon and sped off into the night. The car already had all our luggage in there, and room in the back was extremely limited, almost none for me.
We soon arrived at Chris’ house, he had to knock to be let in. His mother was expecting him, according to Chris anyway. He picked up his card from his other wallet, and bade his mother goodbye for the second time. Then it was back out of Sherwood Heights to my house. This was slightly more interesting for myself.
After noticing that our new car had arrived (a small red Dodge Omni, basically for my sister and I to drive around), I checked the front door. Locked. I booted around the side of the house and hopped the fence. This must’ve looked rather odd to our neighbours, especially when James did the same to remind me to get a pair of sunglasses for Kathryn.
I groped around in the partial light for the back door key (carefully hidden in clear view of anyone who might stumble into the backyard), and got into the house. My heartbeat jumped a lot, I was expecting to get caught. Carefully, I worked my way through the kitchen, into the hallway to my room, avoid as many creaky points as possible.
Getting into my room, I closed the door before turning the lights on. I collected my misplaced articles, turned off the lights then quickly left the house, making sure I didn’t wake anyone up. Closing the rear door was a real problem. It has to be slammed to lock, and that would have waken up the entire neighbourhood. In view of this, I settled for nearly tearing the knob of for pulling so hard.
I returned to the car, and we charged downtown. Along the way, we noticed Ali’s father returning home. That meant that Ali and J were now at James’ house. We continued downtown anyway. We arrived at the first bank in a few minutes, and Chris withdrew the cash he needed. Then it was to the second bank where he deposited the $180 he had been collecting all day.
About a half hour after leaving, we returned to James’ house. Sure enough, Ali and J were there. But there was something important missing, that probably had caught everyone off guard. J had cut his hair. He had once had a lot of it too, more than most females. But now it was only shoulder length. Mind you, I think he looked better with it that short.
Finally, after all the anticipation and anxiety, two o’clock in the morning rolled around, and we prepared to move out. James awoke his mother so she could drive the car (full of our luggage) over to the school. We picked up our jackets and shoes, and headed out. James and Chris broke into a rap of Ice, Ice Baby, I tried to partake, but I can’t do human boomboxing as well as they.
When we arrived at OT, there weren’t many people there. Nor were there any buses. There was a cold wind blowing, and most of us were dressed in clothes that would be more suitable for warmer weather. In other words, we froze out asses off. Neil Murray, Jen Rumsey and Karl McNelly were already there, waiting in a minivan (having come from a pool hall and waited for about forty-five minutes or so).
The empty parking lot of OTHS began to fill with students and parents alike, not to mention a pair of police cars. It seemed that Mrs. Stothart or Mrs. Crewe (I don’t know who got there first) had set off the school’s alarm. Fortunately, they came out and talked to them before we were all arrested and booked (like it would have happened – I’m just paranoid of cops).
It wasn’t long before everyone who was heading to Florida had arrived. Now we had to wait for the buses and a truck to arrive. The truck was already loaded with all the instruments and equipment, our cargo luggage was supposed to be loaded in there as well. Soon, the cheesewagons appeared from up Reynolds Street and pulled into the driveway. All our large luggage had been grouped in one place, all that was left was for the truck to show.
It didn’t. After a while we found out that the truck was heading for the airport without us. So we ended up loading all the large stuff into the back of the bus (which took up a substantial amount of room – school buses aren’t that large y’know). That took about fifteen minutes. Then it was our turn to load in. Some of us had already taken seats, so it was just a matter of getting to them.
Roll call was done, just to make certain that we weren’t leaving anyone behind, then the bus cabin lights when out, and we began our trek to Florida. As the bus turned onto the highway, I began to play AC/DC on my walkman, namely You Shook Me All Night Long, which I thought was kind of fitting, considering the situation.
Roughly half an hour to forty-five minutes, we arrived at Terminal One at Pearson International Airport, Departure Level. At that point, we completely unloaded from both the buses, lugging luggage into the check-in area (not caring whose it was). The truck was already there (if I remember correctly) and it was also unloaded in a similar fashion. All forty-some-odd pieces were carefully dumped in the check-in area. By the time we were done, we had created a large mess of instruments, luggage and people.
Somewhere around 3:30 or 3:45, we began to check-in our luggage and received our boarding passes. At first, the general idea was to just check our luggage, and we would receive our passes later, in alphabetical order. Because of security restrictions, we received our passes at the check-in. We were then told that we could wander off, so long as we returned at 4:45, so we could proceed through security as a group.
James, Linda, Geoff (Barrett, not me), Stuart and Therese headed around the corner, with me in tow, to check out what was available. They found Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Four of them instantly jumped on it, Therese virtually in lead (she’s a TMNT addict). I decided to return to the area where the rest of out troupe was and crashed out there for a while. I didn’t sleep though, I was too hyper to doze off. This made Paul Taylor rather uneasy, he wanted to make sure I hadn’t eaten any sugar to that point. I replied that when I travel, sugar is one of the few things that doesn’t make my hyper (air travel does that by itself).
Five o’clock in the morning arrived, and our group was beckoned by the guards to proceed through security. This partially annoyed the chaperones, they held some of us back to load instruments to the baggage carts that would take them to the plane. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t take too long. By the time we were finished, only about half of OT had managed to get through the security check. Those of us who had been loading jumped into the back of the line and awaited out turn.
Once again, I managed to set off that infernal metal detector (no thanks to my belt buckle), but my carry-on luggage wasn’t even glanced at, aside from the X-Ray machine. From there, it was off to Gate K (virtually at the other end of the friggin’ terminal). Just about the entire waiting lounge was full, there were only two or three vacant seats. I took a place on the floor next to Chris (who had gone through earlier), and shifted my position when I found out how wet the floor was (it had to have been cleaned no more than a half hour before we arrived).
When 5:30 was reading on the clock, boarding began. It looked like a free-for-all, just about everyone on the flight got up, even though most of us wouldn’t be getting on for about another ten to twenty minutes. So we went over to the window and watched the baggage twits load the instruments onto the plane. Stothart cringed every time one of the small black boxes was tossed onto the conveyor belt. We were waiting for the double bass to be loaded. It stood about eight or nine feet tall, and was really bulky.
Just as the baggage cart that contained the double bass lined up for unloading, the line began to move. I was to damn excited to wait for it, so I just headed forward. Ahead, I could hear problems arising as matching ticket numbers came up, something that wasn’t supposed to happen. It didn’t matter really, even though those people were with us, they got on anyway.
I found that my seat was a row behind the door to the plane (incidentally, 757s have their doors part of the way down the fuselage, around row 12 or so), which looked interesting for getting off. I was seated a row ahead and across from Stuart and Therese, seated next to Andy Torr. Andy was on me in a second, barely getting time to sit down. I knew what the question was even before he asked it.
His girlfriend, April Norcross (whose mother was one of the chaperones, something that Andy commented was going to be “interesting”) was seated with Stuart and Therese. I knew that he was going to ask to switch spots, I agreed almost as soon as the question was asked. April and I swapped places, I hoped I would get the window seat (that’s where April was). But Therese shifted over the seat to the window, I ended up with the aisle, Stuart between us. I didn’t bother to argue, just so long as we got south.
At around six, the in-flight safety speech was delivered with non-existent enthusiasm by the flight crew. Much earlier (by about two months or so), several of the people in my little group had suggested that the entire OT group mimic the crew, following the patterns that some of us knew by heart. However, we did not, though I was tempted real bad.
The plane shifted suddenly, then began to roll backwards for what seemed an eternity. Another vibration shifted through the fuselage, and the engines picked up their whine, the plane rolled forward. The p.a. crackled, and the co-pilot began his yak about the flight. All the while, the plane rolled and bounced its way to first flight of the day.
Then the familiar roar that I knew so well erupted from our Rolls-Royce turbines, and we were thrust into our seats. Not to be boastful, but I’ve flown so much that I almost found this boring. I stress almost, I love flying so much I’m still excited by takeoffs. Next thing we knew, the bumps stopped and the plane leapt into the dull morning glow of Southern Ontario. She banked and aimed for Florida.
Less than ten minutes later, the attendants began their rounds with orange juice and headphones for the in-flight movie, Home Alone. I had seen the movie before, but it wasn’t one that I really wanted to see first thing in the morning. Besides, we had already seen Heathers and Eddie Murphy – The Best Of Saturday Night Live earlier that morning.
Observer’s Log: Supplemental
It is now just a little past 06:30, we are now being enthralled with the antics of Home Alone (oh joy), and awaiting for our diminutive breakfast. Presently seated in 13C, my immediate neighbours are Stuart and Therese, with Therese in the window seat. I can’t think of a better way to spend 2 hours and 9 minutes. This trip isn’t off to the start I had hoped for, oh so long ago. But at least I got my alarm clock and earphones (thanks to the efforts of James who was so nice as to drop by my home at almost 1 am).
Explanation needed! First of all, I was being sarcastic when I said: “I can’t think of a better way to spend 2 hours and 9 minutes”. This is because I was once deeply beguiled by Therese, but it was Stuart who swept her off her feet. This is a long story that I will not go into detail here. When I’m with one or the other, I was fine. When they were together, I got those nasty pains in my body that make me want to, well, cry. I can now look back on those times and laugh at myself, knowing what eventually happened.
That’s why I was so glad to have retrieved my earphones. I knew that keeping myself occupied with music for the next two or so hours would be no problem. Fortunately, ’twas no problem. And as for breakfast, it was actually filling enough to keep me going until we got to our hotel later that morning (which is for me, really good).
It was about around 8:20 when our plane arrived in Orlando. I had since prepared myself for the temperatures I was expecting. I had worn a t-shirt, with a thin sweatshirt over top to keep me warm in Canada, and a pair of track pants. The track pants were now rolled up to my knees. When we disembarked, I was glad I had worn them, it was nice and warm (not hot, just warm).
We trudged down the corridor, heading for baggage claim and immigration. Mr. Davidson almost instantly began to complain about something (his hearing wasn’t back to normal yet – there was something else, but I don’t recall if he mentioned what it was), and asked if anyone had a tissue. Mrs. Crewe was amazed at this, I was amazed that she was amazed (of course, I was used to this kind of reaction to flying as my mother had the same problem).
The baggage took sometime to come through, the instruments kept plugging up the baggage conveyor. The larger instruments (like the double bass) were brought around by hand. After about a half hour, all the luggage had been collected and loaded onto luggage carts. Then we hauled the lot across the room (Karl and I shared a cart to save room) to the opposite side where all the instruments and baggage (aside from out carry-ons) were loaded onto another conveyor belt. Then we went through another security check (X-Ray machine and all) and hopped on a monorail car which took us over to the main building of Orlando airport.
It was not the same airport I remembered from the last time I had been in Orlando. Of course, that may be due to the fact that the last time was about eleven years previous. Back then, you got off onto the tarmac, not into a three building, monorail connected terminal system with automated baggage control.
It didn’t take us long to find the second baggage claim at the main building. But it did take a long time for our stuff to come through, almost forty-five minutes for all of it to appear. By this time, most of us had been awake for about twenty-four hours or more. Time had almost no concept to the majority of the group.
After a while, Beber called for all residents of Bus One to move out to the sidewalk outside, as our bus was due to arrive soon (I use “resident” because we spent a lot of time on those buses). All the luggage and instruments were carted outside. The sidewalk platform was tiled, and utterly spotless.
“Holy shit!” exclaimed Chris, “This is so clean you could eat off it!”
There was another twenty minute or so wait there too, before our two buses arrived. Bus One came about ten minutes before Bus Two, which gave us some time to load all the stuff on it. That was when we first met Dick, our driver. Even though it wasn’t in his job description, he helped us load the bus. It took James, Chris, Sonny, Paul, Chris Stratten and I about fifteen minutes and a lot of careful planning to get all the stuff on.
The reason for the length of time was that the decision was made to put all the instruments and equipment on one bus, ours. Somehow, we not only managed to get all that on, but all the our luggage as well. By the time we were done, the bus sat about four inches lower, and you couldn’t stuff an orange into the lower compartments.
Then we headed out, to a parking space just away from the platform. We had to wait for Bus Two to come. While we waited, Dick told us, “Welcome to Orlando, my name is Dick and I’ll be your driver for the majority of your stay. I’ve lived here for eighteen years, and I’ll try to answer any questions you have about the area. And if I don’t know the answer, I’ll lie.”
Then James tried to pop the rear hatch to let some air into the bus. That’s when we were told about the air conditioning ports. I don’t call myself the Observer for nothing. Most of the bus didn’t hear Dick the first time ’round. I saw him show it to one of the upper rows, and followed suit.
Dick promptly went down the aisle, showing everyone else. When he got to me, I told him that I figured it out, and I was cooling off with the machine driven breeze. Dick tipped his hat back on his head and…
“Figured it out huh? Where’re ya from?” he asked, I thought for a moment I had pissed him off. But, having experience in annoying people, I had a hunch he was a bit like me. So I paused a moment before replying.
“Canada. Southern Ontario.”
“I thought so!” he said, with a straight face. Then he laughed and walked to his seat. It was then I knew for certain that we had a cool driver, and hoped that we had him the entire time.
Bus Two emerged from the Terminal about ten minutes after us, and we headed off to the hotel. Bus Two’s driver was a bit of a twit, or at least that was the impression that I got. He seemed to get lost a bit too often. Anyway, we hit the highway and headed off in what I thought was the direction of our hotel.
We passed about half a dozen Days Inns (the hotel chain we were to be staying at), and about twenty other hotels. We went through two or three toll booths (a lovely little detail that I had totally forgotten about, something I’m glad Canada has not adopted) and an hour of traffic before we turned off the highway. Dick did some fancy maneuvering (which is not easy with a four ton bus) and avoided more traffic.
Then we were on our way. Soon, we passed the Mercado Shopping Center, the location of one of our performances later on that week. Less than five minutes later, we realized that we had literally double-backed on ourselves, going through an underpass of the highway we had just come off of. Had we gotten off at that turn off, we would have saved about a good half hour or so. I assumed that Dick didn’t know exactly the best way to get us there, or he wanted to show us a couple things along the way.
We passed by Sea World almost immediately after that, not to mention more tourist stores than I could count in the five days we were there. After a long while, we arrived at a large intersection, where I was bombarded with a wicked feeling of deja vu. Had we kept going straight, we would have landed in Disney World. It was the same intersection I had gone through eleven years previous.
We turned to the left and continued along that road. Another left and a longer drive, and we arrived at our hotel. It took long enough, but we were glad to have arrived. But the wait wasn’t over yet. First we had to wait for our guide (who had met us at Toronto and was with us the entire time – never did find out what his name was) to get our rooms organized.
What we did end up with were common rooms to put our stuff until the rest of the rooms were ready. Dick then booted us around back, where the rooms were. We unloaded into the common rooms and proceeded to the lobby of the hotel to get our separate room keys. James found out that our room was one of the common ones, and we had to find out who had the key. J had gotten it off of someone (never did find out who) and moved in. We followed suit very quickly. If you’re wondering what had happened to the instruments, they were all left on the bus. We were going to a performance that night, and it was easier to leave them where they were.
The rooms were virtually all the same, aside from the positioning of the furniture and the door. In our room, the air conditioner sat to the immediate right of the door (and was usually on… high); a table just in front of the air conditioner; then James and Stuart’s bed; a night table and a gap between James and Stuart’s bed and Chris’ and my bed where J’s mattress sat; then Chris’ and my bed. Across from the beds on the other wall sat a two drawer bureau with a television and radio combination. At the back of the room was the mirror, sink, counter and clothes rack. Then, to the side of the room with the beds (to the right from the door) sat the bathroom, with shower / bathtub and toilet. Basic, but comfortable.
We changed quickly into a fresh change of clothes (even my rolled up track pants were too warm now) and we headed out. We were starving, we needed some kind of nourishment. The guys were ready fast enough, the women took slightly longer, which is understandable. Let’s face it, men are slobs! I should know, I’m one of them.
Then we were off to the mall diagonal to our hotel. We had already shifted into shopping mode, and we knew there were restaurants in there (I haven’t found a mall without a restaurant yet). Sure enough, we found food really quickly. I indulged in Chinese something, I only recognized the beef and green peppers, and the rice. Come to think of it, that was all I had anyway! But that’s beside the point…
After filling that empty void within me, we headed off one at a time to check out the rest of the mall. There was a music store there, but I opted not to buy anything for a while, I wanted to shop around first. There was also an interesting video arcade (where I found Chris deeply involved in Aliens, I joined in), an Eckerd’s Drugstore, a Walmart and a few other dinky little shops.
We eventually gave the mall up when Chris and I lost track of everyone. So we headed back to the room, hitting the 7-11 along the way. It was nice to have that place really close to us. There we snagged a twelve pack of Pepsi (or as Hil might put it, half of a two by four) and a pack of donuts. Yes, we were off to a nutritious start!
Passing by the pool, I found Linda in the fenced in area, catching some rays. I thought it would be nice to get a swim in. So, after returning to the room, I changed into my bathing suit, and along with James, headed to the pool. Both James and I wore Speedo style bathing suits, though I must say that James had to look better in his than myself, his body is more defined than mine.
We entered the pool zone and spread out for a moment. I went in for a quick dip, and I mean quick. That was the first time in almost two years that I had worn that bathing suit, and the water was cold. Men, every have a testicle caught in a pair a vice grips? Same feeling. I got totally wet, then got out. I got a little sun, not much, then headed back to the room.
While I was at the pool, I found out that Florida had already taken a victim. Therese’s skin is fair, almost pure white. She had sunburn in less than twenty minutes. I can assure you, though I never asked her, that it wasn’t the way she wanted this trip to get off to start.
Observer’s Log: Second Supplemental
A little over twelve hours ago, we were freezing our asses back up in Canada. Therese has already received acute sunburn. We have our room, we scouted out the local mall, raided the 7-11, went to the pool, swam a little, and silently gawked at the babes to in swimsuits (or sometimes the lack thereof).
At four o’clock that afternoon, the five of us (J, James, Stuart, Chris and myself) changed into our choir uniforms that we were to need for the performance that was to be held at a Seniors Resort somewhere in Orlando. By 16:15, we were at the buses, taking our seats. The instruments were still inside, so we didn’t have to waste our time loading it.
We spent the next three quarters of an hour turning corners, speeding down straight-aways and getting nailed by red lights before we finally arrived at our destination. It looked peaceful enough, the primary vehicles were golf carts. After hunting around, we finally found the common hall, and pulled in. Then we unloaded the bus.
Bus Two on the other hand, got lost. Their driver was forced into the wrong lane and made a bad turn. Bus Two showed up roughly ten minutes after us. Once they were off, we headed in to begin the single worst performance that any of us would ever do. Of course, you must remember that almost none of us had slept in over thirty hours by that time.
The concert began somewhere around 17:30, maybe 18:00. As I said, time really had no meaning to us. Concert Choir was the first one to perform, and we were the worst. Most of the basses were off key, almost everyone was off tempo, basically we sucked something fierce. We also managed to totally bugger up the ending to When The Saints Go Marching In. Then it was Jazz Choir’s turn.
Jazz Choir is made up mostly of the people in my group (Hil, Chris, James, Therese, Kathryn, J, Cindy Merson, Angie), and they are perfect. Never before, in all their performances, even their practices, had I heard something as small as a foul note. Even Jazz Choir was off that night. We were not in good shape.
Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo were next, and I lost attention. I was simply too tired to care anymore. But even though I was in La-la Land, I could hear the small discrepancies that let everyone know that we were not ready to perform. Wind Ensemble, who had performed so well they were invited to Vancouver for the Canadian Championships, played not up to snuff.
All I can say is that seniors have got to be the most polite people in the world, either that or most of them were stone deaf. They applauded after every number that the choirs and bands did, and even after all that terrible music, still gave us $98 for our troubles. Stothart desperately tried to refuse it, but she had to give in. In addition to politeness, seniors are stubborn as hell.
Afterwards, many of the audience thanked us for “a concert well done”. Following proper courtesy, we smiled as strongly as our bodies would allow and thanked them gratuitously. Then we moved all the instruments out to the buses. Let me rephrase that. A few people (including Dick and the other driver, Warren) moved the instruments out. I retreated to the bus to fall asleep, which I didn’t.
Soon, the buses were loaded with passengers and chaperones, and we returned to the hotel. Conversations echoed inside our bus, everyone knew that our performance had been well below acceptable. There is no worse critic of an artist than himself / herself. Stothart didn’t need to tell us that we had sounded horrible.
When we arrived at the hotel, the same people who loaded it, unloaded it into Mr. Roser’s room, where all the electrical stuff and the large instruments were to be kept. I think I helped with a couple things, but I was on the verge of passing out, so I don’t remember. Getting back to the room, we changed into our street clothes and prepared to head out for dinner for 20:00 (less than twenty minutes after we returned), all except me.
I was feeling like, to use a colourful metaphor, shit. I was not only exhausted, but emotionally drained. Too much of watching couples and wanting to be half of one. My mind loves pissing me off, and it does a good job of it too. Instead, I stayed behind. At first I thought I would go out on the walkway (all the room doors were outside, no inside hallways) and take in some night air. Only I was too tired to do so.
James, Stuart and Chris tried to drag me out of the room for some food, but I didn’t want to go. I think they know of my stubbornness, for they gave up trying to convince me. About fifteen minutes after they left, Linda phoned. That scared the hell out of me, the ringer was on full, and I was dozing off. She hadn’t gone to dinner either, she was too tired as well. Couldn’t blame her.
Observer’s Log: Third Supplemental
This evening’s performance sucked shitwings! It couldn’t have possibly gone any more wrong. Concert Choir was the worst, but even Jazz Choir made a couple of mistakes (major rarity). To top it all off, I can’t get you-know-who out of my mind.