Tuesday Teacher – Mr. Shermer, Choir

Excerpt: “Smivey Stepward in Love and Other Misery” by Dale Parsons, All Rights Reserved

“Why do I have to learn how to sing? Why does the school need a choir? Whose idea was this, anyway?” Smivey thought as he walked to choir class. As he shuffles along, getting closer to the choir room he hears the voice of Luciano Pavorotti wafting through the hall. Every day it’s the same thing. Mr. Shermer plays the same music as students enter the room.

“Choir, just listen to this tremendous voice!” he always says, like it was the first time he ever said it, and the first time the students ever heard it. “Listen! Try to drink in the power of his voice, the depth of his emotion, the incredible strength of his spirit!” As the song concludes, Mr. Shermer continues, “Choir members, listen to me. Music carries the emotion of the soul like nothing else! Music communicates when every other voice is silent! Music can lift the spirit, give strength to the weak, courage to the fearful!” Smivey thinks maybe Mr. Shermer used to be a preacher. He doesn’t know where else he could have learned to give speeches like this.

“Choir, take out Springtime In My Love’s Caress, by Truman Calver” Mr. Shermer said, stepping to the podium.

“We shouldn’t be singing songs like this” Smivey thought as he found the music in his folder. “It’s so embarrassing.”

“Altos, I would like to begin with you today. Please start at measure fourteen. Miss Kirtz, their note please.”

Gretchin Kirtz has been taking piano lessons since she was four years old. Smivey can’t stand to watch her. She acts like she’s playing in front of thousands of people. She always sits straight up and nods when Mr. Shermer tells her what to do. She lifts her hand slowly, and gently brings her finger down on the key like she’s afraid it will splinter into a million pieces if she touches it too hard. “Okay altos, one and two and…”

“Softly, softly, walking through the meadow

“Feeling such a warmth within my breast…”

It’s the word “breast” that is just too much. “We shouldn’t be singing this. Why can’t we sing something by the Beatles? No one has ever heard of Truman Calver or his stupid song about something warm in my breast” Smivey thought as he heard muffled laughter coming from the back row.

“Gentlemen!” Mr. Shermer yelled as the altos stopped singing. “How many times must I tell you that the term “breast” in this song does not mean what you’re thinking! The breast is referred to as the deepest part of the heart. The songwriter is expressing his deep feeling for his one true love. Please choir. You can do this.”

“Okay, altos, one more time. One and two and…”

“Softly, softly, walking through the meadow

“Feeling such a warmth within my breast

“Gently, gently, she comes ever nearer

“Longing for the touch of my caress…”

“Very nice, very nice. Okay, choir, let’s start at the beginning. Miss Kirtz, the introduction please, one and two and…”

Gretchen plays the introduction perfectly, just like she does every time, and the choir began singing. In spite of Smivey’s thoughts about the song, it actually sounded pretty good. When Mr. Shermer first gave them the music Smivey decided to just stop singing when they got to the word “breast.” It reminded him too much of hearing his mother talking about healthy bowels.

“Softly, softly, walking through the meadow

“Feeling such a warmth within my breast”

Just at that moment there came a loud snort from the back row. Mr. Shermer stopped the choir. “Thomas Mindler, you go to the office this instant! Mr. Stoker, do you want to join him?”

“No,” Michael Stoker answered.

Mr. Shermer asked, “Mr. Herney, what is wrong with you?”

Steven Herney was laughing so hard his face was radish red but he hadn’t made a sound.

“Answer me!” Mr. Shermer demanded.

When Steven tried to talk he sprayed spit all over Smivey’s back.

“That’s it,” Mr. Shermer hollered, “You go to the office, too!”

Once the commotion had ended, Mr. Shermer started again. “Okay, choir, from the beginning of Mr. Calver’s piece. One and two and…”

Just at that moment the bell rang. Smivey was never so glad to hear anything in his life.

“Choir, remember, fall concert is coming up in three weeks. Make sure your parents have it on their calendar!” Mr. Shermer yelled as everyone hurried out of the classroom.

Copyright 2022 by Dale Parsons

2 thoughts on “Tuesday Teacher – Mr. Shermer, Choir

  1. richard lambert

    Dale, you are hilarious. I can visualize your characters as they get involved in the events. You have a wonderful creative imagination. You never cease to amaze me. Did your folks ever know this about you. Thinking back, I think not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha, how kind of you! No, I never started writing anything until many many years later. I did write a play for highschool English class one time about going to the dentist that my classmates thought was pretty funny. I’m thinking about posting my whole book on WordPress a chapter at a time. It’s better than sitting in a file on my computer!


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