I know this is a wacky idea,” said Mitt, my old missionary companion, “but I want you to get me a gig singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Talk to your friend the director—Heslop or Fesler or Jessup or whatever his name is—and tell him to get me on the Sunday broadcast.”
I glanced over at my green-glowing digital alarm clock. It was 3 in the morning. I knew Mitt was getting desperate, what with his presidential campaign starting to tank, but his phoning me at all hours of the day and night would have to stop.
“But you can’t even carry a tune, my brother,” I said, trying to mask my irritation at being rudely snatched from the delights of dreamland. And to tell the truth, I was feeling just a little resentful about Mitt presuming to encroach on a part of my life that was totally above the rough and tumble of politics. Being a member of the choir was a special part of my life, and I didn’t want to do anything to sully something I cherished so dearly, especially now that my time with the choir was coming to an end after nearly 20 wonderful years.
“No, no, you don’t get it,” said Mitt. “What’s the best thing about the church? The Mormon Tabernacle Choir! Did you see that piece in The New York Times about the choir? It’s the first positive thing about Mormons in years, maybe in our lifetime. Here’s what I figure: Everyone loves the choir, and once they see me lifting my heart in song, right there in the middle of the tenor section, no one will dare to bring up the Mormon stuff!”
I had to admit that my old missionary companion had a point. He always could see the big picture, even back in the old days in Paris, France, when, without purse or scrip, we preached the Gospel to those skeptical and stiff-necked frogs. He never had moral qualms about a course of action if it furthered a nobler and higher purpose, which even as a child, born to goodly parents, had been becoming president of these United States, a destiny, verily, vouchsafed to him in a sacred patriarchal blessing.
So, yes, however much it irked me to admit it, Mitt was right. Mitt becoming a member of the Tabernacle Choir would surely silence the Mormon bashers, especially those among the media who scoff at our ceremonies and belittle our beliefs. (Those supercilious media snobs remind me of Frenchmen and their silly berets—what’s the point of a beret, anyway? Not even a brim to keep the sun out of your eyes.)
Once Mitt got into the Tabernacle Choir, people like that sneaky Tim Russert guy or that hothead Chris Matthews would stop interrogating him about his sacred beliefs. By the way, I don’t think Mr. Russert or Mr. Matthews, both of whom are reputed to be good Catholic boys, would appreciate it if folks started asking them if they really believe that the communion wafer is transubstantiated into the flesh of Jesus and the wine turns into his blood. That belief, just like Dennis Kucinich’s belief in UFOs and Mitt’s belief that the Apaches are really Jews, are in the same category, and all those beliefs, no matter how crazy they seem to rational people, are their private business.
Always impatient, always a get-it-done now kind of guy, Mitt insisted I call Brother Jessup right away and arrange to have him sing a couple of solos this coming Sunday.
“What about that aria the blind guy always sings? That would get attention,” said Mitt. “Or maybe something more modern would be the ticket, something like ‘Fly Me to the Moon.’”
Once again I could feel my old resentment rising. Here I had been a faithful and obedient member of the choir, serving in obscurity—true, I had a brief moment of fame when Gladys Knight sang “Midnight Train to Georgia” during a special appearance with the choir, and I got to do some back-up vocals with the Pips—and now Mitt, who couldn’t sing his way out of a paper bag, would be center stage, basking in the reflected glory of the choir.
But I swallowed my scruples and promised Mitt I would do all I could do to get him his singing gig.
“One thing, though,” I told him on the phone. “Don’t tell people you’re a tenor. Say you’re a baritone. No one trusts a tenor.”
D.P. Sorensen writes satire for City Weekly.