Odd term, isn't it? "White lie" - by which we generally mean an untruth which does not have moral, financial, or safety implications; but which may in the telling allow certain notions to remain undisturbed. Or it may allow certain assumptions to go unchallenged.
Maisie asks her friend, "How do you like my new dress?", blissfully unaware that the dress is the wrong size, the wrong length, the wrong material, and the wrong cut.
But is Maisie's friend likely to tell her any of that? Oh, no. She will probably come up with something that evades the whole question, and respond with something like, "That color does such nice things for your skin."
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Last week I visited a community singing ensemble as an invited guest. Everyone was friendly and very welcoming. They reminded me a little of The Village People, minus the fetching costumes. However, they began on time (always a plus for me, as I loathe being late for anything but a dental appointment) and they had all the necessary equipment at the ready.
Song sheets were crisply distributed to two dozen or so present. Warm up exercises commenced. The jolly leader tapped his baton on the side of the music stand ...and we were off.
Yes, indeed we were - off key, off tempo, off you-name-it.
Between songs they gaily asked me whether a) I had ever sung before, b) did I know any of their songs, and c) was I thinking of joining their group as a regular? Answers: a) Yes, b) some, and c) I was thinking about it.
After we whipped through a few familiar ditties, there was a brief coffee break from our warbling.
One fellow (of the approximate age of 103) sauntered up to me with a familiar manner and declared, "You are the second prettiest woman here."
Unfazed (or simply temporarily stunned from the workout I had just undergone) I shot back with a pleasant smile, "Oh, really. And who is the prettiest?"
"I don't know, but I always allow for the possibility that there must be someone around, or soon will be, who fits the bill."
(I cannot make this stuff up.)
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Now to the heart of the matter. The leader of these happy cohorts announced, with no little ceremony, that we were about to have an audition. I had been specifically assured that this was a no-audition-required community singing group, or I would have stayed home; and thus I felt a sudden shortness of breath. But, not to worry, he did not mean me.
Three members of the group were going to favor us with a number. (I think we might have been better served with a letter, but I was new, so I didn't say this.) If their song was of appropriate quality, they would include it in the group's repertoire at the performance later that afternoon. But they were not sure they were ready, and it was up to us to decide whether they were up to standards.
JL (Jolly Leader) reminded us solemnly that this was an audition, and not to be taken lightly. It was important to give honest feedback. This was no "gimme" - this was an honest-to-goodness audition. There was to be no automatic praise, no false reassurances. Whether the trio was to be deemed ready for the upcoming public performance depended solely upon our feedback. (Good heavens, the pressure was already mounting, and I was just visiting.)
The three (two male and one female) approached the piano with a good show of humility and a dab of jaunty confidence and announced their selection. I had never heard of it, which was just as well. Less to compare by.
I'm not quite sure what key they were singing in, but it hardly mattered as they switched it several times, whether the pianist did or not. Some of the song was sung in Italian and some in English, but who knows which was which. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus and a repeat on the chorus for a flourishing finish!
I can honestly say I had never heard anything quite like it.
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After the last notes had died, but not necessarily a natural death, JL solicited our unvarnished feedback. This was met with a somewhat strained silence, for about ten seconds, and then the floodgates opened.
"I think their tone is .... remarkable."
"The mood of the song is really uplifting."
"Such a happy song."
"They probably should stand a little further away from the piano, as it was a little difficult to hear them on some notes." (I couldn't have put it better myself.)
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I sat there in mild disbelief. The trio broke out into broad smiles. General nodding and thumbs up could be seen for two rows in either direction.
And then I began to smile, too. This group sings for the sheer fun of it. They don't give a hoot about staccato, obbligato, or adagio.
But they sing with gusto! And good camaraderie. And a genuine joy in each other's company.
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And you should have seen the beaming faces on our audience later that afternoon, as we crowded into the social hall of a retirement center to sing to the residents for over an hour. They laughed and clapped without reservation; and yes, I do realize that not a few were probably stone deaf. Didn't matter.
My ears are still ringing with the applause. (Or something. :) And a good time was had by all.
Oh, and did I happen to mention the name of the song the trio sang? It was "Escusa me" - loosely translated "excuse me."
Well, why not? Where's the harm?
As I said, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. Fortunately, I don't have to, as it happened just as described. At least that is my recollection of how it all went down.
And yep, I think I may go back. They told me they really need good singers, such as myself. Since neither my morals, my finances, nor my safety is at risk - I think I will give the color of their feedback the benefit of the doubt. White, ecru, or ivory - I'm just going to allow the notion to go unchallenged.
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Hope you are telling the gentle truth wherever it is required, and giving everyone else the benefit of the doubt. I'm certainly trying to. Until next time ... Marsha