Friday, December 13, 2013

Mr. Delaware...

Tonight I am inspired to share a story from the spring of 1994.  I was a college senior and on tour with my choir.  I was a member of the Camerata Singers at what is now Longwood University.  The Camerata Singers in those days had about 40 voices.  I had never sung in a choir before I got to college, but I turned out to be something of a musical "prodigy", mainly because I have perfect pitch and a broad vocal range.  I am the daughter of an organist and a singer and somehow ended up with musical genes.

I took voice lessons for fun and my voice teacher got me into "Cams" when I was a sophomore (and had done one semester in Concert Choir).  The choir director hadn't believed me when I told him I didn't need to sightread to be good in his choir until I told him I have perfect pitch.  I was, at that point, his first and only student with absolute pitch.  I did eventually learn to sightread, too.  As a talent, I think perfect pitch is quite overrated.  All it means is that I remember what things sound like and people and things that are off key annoy the living fuck out of me.  Also, there are certain notes that jump out at me when I listen to music.  Like, I can't help but identify them.  Other notes are not quite so obvious.  Supposedly, it strikes 1 in 10,000 people.  It's my guess my former prof has since had other students like me… ones who were actual music majors, even.

Anyway, Cams was a fun pursuit for me, though I probably wouldn't have joined on my own.  I wouldn't have had the courage.  I had to audition to get in and I was pretty nervous about it.  The first time I auditioned, I was turned down, because I couldn't sightread very well, even though I had studied the rudiments of piano, clarinet, and even drums.  The second time I auditioned, I told the prof that I had perfect pitch.  He turned me around and tested me with piano tones and was apparently satisfied I wasn't lying about my ear.  He even said I could be a "human pitch pipe".  After that, I was welcomed into the music department.  I studied secondary voice and was a proud member of Cameratas and Sigma Alpha Iota.  I see now that the current choir director has made the group smaller and much more selective.  I guess if I had been born years later, I would never have had the experiences I did in Cams.  That would have been a pity. Cams gave me… ahem… exposure to some interesting things.

Part of being in Cams involved going on "spring tour" over spring break.  It basically meant going to high schools in the northeast and performing in an attempt to entice good music students to the South.  At the end of the week, we'd catch a Broadway show or two, then head back to Virginia.  Because we did this for the college, the college covered a good portion of the expense… and our choir director was a master at finding people to host us in the small northeastern towns we visited in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.  We also got early registration for our troubles.  That, performing in the holiday concert complete with a lovely meal and baked Alaska, and the easy A, were reason enough to be in Cams.

Our spring tour trips were taken via motor coach and there always was a small cost.  We had to pay for lodging in Manhattan, some food, and student tickets for whatever Broadway show we wanted to see.  Over three years, I saw Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, and Tommy.  Nothing especially exciting happened the first year.  All I remember about it was that I was depressed and didn't like New York very much.  The second year, while we were in New York, a huge snowstorm hit.  Because of the severe snowstorm, we were stranded in NYC an extra day and, after buying a rare soundtrack at a very impressive music store (in the days before Amazon), I saw people skiing down Broadway.  Our college paid for the extra night and extra food.  The third year, Cindy Crawford was on Saturday Night Live and I'm pretty sure some folks from our choir actually attended the taping.  I also got to go backstage and meet the actor who played Tommy in Tommy because I happened to have a camera.  He had also been on the television version of Fame.  

In March 1994, during my last tour, we were in Delaware on Interstate 95…  almost everybody was napping except for me.  We were all exhausted from the performances all week and the drunken debauchery some of us had enjoyed in New York City.  It was broad daylight and I was sitting by the window, zoned out and bored out of my mind.  I gazed out the window, watching the wintery scenery fly by.  Then I directed my attention back to the inside of the bus.  When I looked outside again, there was a guy in a bright yellow sedan matching the pace of the bus.  I looked at the driver, a young white male with blondish hair.  Then I looked away.  When I looked again, I noticed something pink flopping around between his legs…

It took me a moment to realize what I was seeing.  The man was jerking off as he drove alongside our bus.  I, of course, being the composed, genteel, refined southern lady that I am, screamed…  And then I said, "Oh my GOD!"  I was honestly shocked.  I had never seen such a thing, despite my worldliness and attendance at a public college in Virginia.

All of my napping friends woke up and many of them either looked out the window or rushed to my side of the bus as the driver of the bright yellow car drove all up and down the side of the bus, showing off his… um… wares.  I seem to remember that year, the folks in Cams voted me "Most likely to get a 25 cent peep show for free"...

That same semester, I was taking a non-fiction writing class.  The professor was very non-conventional and a bit of a shyster.  I had an assignment that involved writing a true story.  I wrote about the flasher and drew a picture of his penis on my final paper.  I got an A in the class, along with this note--  "Oh my GOD!  Is that what I think it is?"

Yep, it sure is.

To this day, I refer to that guy on I-95 as "Mr. Delaware."  I'm delighted that many of my old Cams friends still know exactly who I'm referring to when I mention him.


  1. I hate to admit it, but that was me. Our lives keep intersecting.

    1. I had no idea you were into exhibitionism, Dave.


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