Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Belles in my Future

During my senior year of college I participated with a string quartet in a Christmas performance at the Laie, Hawaii LDS Temple Vistor's Center. We were just one of several acts. My favorite act by a mile however, was the Laie Belles, a group of 12 or so decrepit Mormon women. Despite their many stops and starts and inability to actually create music I felt an urge to learn the bells. Needless to say I asked them if there was any chance they'd let a 20-something man join the group, even just unofficially as an honorary member. I recall suggesting they call themselves the Laie Belles and a Gentleman (Ugh. I'll understand if you choose to disown me).

The head Belle laughed at my idea, she clearly didn't take me seriously. My will to learn the bells however, pressed on, an inescapable desire. Not a month later, to my delight a spritely senior missionary couple, the Farley's, who also happened to be former members of the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir, were assigned to work with my congregation. Naturally, they worked especially close with our own choir and eventually sweet Sister Farley unveiled what might as well have been the holy grail: a box of shining, crisp, seductive bells. Bells fit for a king.

I immediately claimed stake to at least one bell, demanding of course, that it be the bell with charismatic solos; a bell allowing me to perform the bell-playing abilities that I knew I innately possessed. My demand was met and, more carefully than a surgeon, I gloved my hands and took to learning my part. If I couldn't be the Belle's star gentleman I sure as heck would make sure the spotlight found me in this new church choir.

I learned my part and could make my bell sing the sweetest melody. It possessed a timbre so moving it could make even Kate Gosselin cry. My part? One note, one solid ring of the low F#. So maybe I wasn't the star I envisioned, but my note was important. It came on a loud, intense downbeat after a long silent pause.

The big day arrived. I polished my bell and practiced my counts and the big ring. Our group took our places on the risers in front of the entire university and began. The singers and bells blended beautifully. My ring approached and the song became slow motion. I could feel the blood rushing to my head. I felt woozy, nervous, anxious. I forgot the lyrics, stopped singing and lost count. The pause, my cue, came too quickly and I panicked. I gritted my teeth, swallowed hard. Slow motion turned to warp speed but I shook my nerves and managed to completely recompose myself and find my place in the music. Then, with every bit of confidence in the world and with all my strength I lifted the bell over my head, pulled it back for increased momentum and GONNNNnnG!!! I rang that sweet, shining bell. Not one, but two counts too early.

I ruined the choir number and managed to do it in front of my whole school. Better yet, my big moment was captured in the BYU-Hawaii newspaper.

That image is below. I guess I'll never be an honorary Belle.