I ain’t gonna study war no more.

On Friday evening the temperature dropped and the four of us found ourselves sitting around in the family room with the windows open and the television off. Perfect night. Then, all of a sudden: “I SAID HELLO, MARY LOU! GOODBYE HEART! SWEET MARY LOU I’M SO IN LOVE WITH YOU!!!”

Jeff: Girls, do you hear that? The church up the street is having their barbershop quartet sing-off tonight!

Me: Wow! It sounds like they have a new sound system! Should we walk up and watch? There might be snowcones!

Meredith and Harper: NO!

So, we continued to sit and listen from our family room, and the music was a bit loud, yet sort of lovely, and the air was crisp, and all was well. (Five commas!) And then two hours passed, and it was bedtime for the girls, and the whole sing-off thing was quickly losing its charm.

“YOU MUST HAVE BEEN A BEAUTIFUL BABY! YOU MUST HAVE BEEN A WONDERFUL CHILD!!!”

“DOWN BY THE OLD MILL STREAM!!! WHERE I FIRST MET YOU!!! WITH YOUR EYES OF BLUE!!! DRESSED IN GINGHAM, TOO!!!!”

Me: Every time one of the songs comes to an end, I find myself praying that the show is over.

Jeff: I’m starting to wonder if the show will EVER be over.

Meredith: I changed my mind. Let’s go see the singers.

Jeff and Me: No.

Another hour passes.

“YOU HOLD HER HAND, AND SHE HOLDS YOURS AND THAT’S A VERY GOOD SIGN!!! THAT SHE’S YOUR TOOTSIE-WOOTSIE IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME!!!”

Me: I hate barbershop quartets. HATE them.

“GOODBYE MY CONEY ISLE! GOODBYE MY CONEY ISLE! GOODBYE MY CONEY ISLAND BABE!!!”

Me: I’m going to kill someone. If this doesn’t end soon, I swear I’m calling the police.

Ah, but it did end. And thank God for that, because I was starting to itch in strange places, which I believe indicates the onset of An Episode. I’m not sure who won, but I believe it was the gang who belted out Down by the Riverside. Now that we’re more than 48 hours past the trauma, I feel good admitting that they SHOULD have won. Two words: Harmonized Glissandi. (I’m all about glissandi lately—both the word and the effect. This song is getting a lot of play in my car.) ((By the way, I’m totally going to the barbershop quartet sing-off next year. And I’m taking you with me.))

On Saturday afternoon, we went to the school’s Fall Festival, where plates were broken, faces were painted, and severely awkward conversations were held (because that’s what I tend to do).

Breaking Plates

Face painted!

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14 thoughts on “I ain’t gonna study war no more.”

  1. I’m not sure which is more terrifying. The thought of a NEVER-ENDING Barbershop Sing-Off or the Pumpkin Head in that picture!

  2. I love Barber Shop. I totally would have dragged my kids and they would have hated Barber Shop forever.

    Do you ever watch Rescue Me? There’s an episode where Tommy Gavin joins a quartet in order to go on a trip he couldn’t afford. If Denis Leary had sung but one chorus in that episode I swear to you I’d be in jail for stalking him and licking him all over.

  3. Every year at my daughter’s school they have a “Carnivale” and it always involves waiting hours in line for face painting. You would think they would con some parents or artistic eighth graders into helping out, but there always just the one clown lady in full regalia doing painstaking face after face after face in slow motion. It is the only thing my daughter will wait that long for, and by the time it is accomplished she gets maybe two to three hours tops before it is washed off in the bath.

    Congratulations to the Down by the Riverside group! Please never come close to my house.

  4. unrelated to your current post, but I have been reading your site for a while & recall one of your girls liking smelly things like soap – and that you gifted her with this stuff? Is that right? Anyway – I have a 2 year old that walks around with a pumpkin scented candle glued to her face & it reminded me of that (possibly imagined) event in your life. Did she grow out of it? : )

  5. Praise the lord and pass the ammunition, Barbershop Quartets never made it here, possibly because Australians are so bad at singing in public generally, and also because most Italians (who were the originators of barbershop quartets, hence the slicked back hair & woggy moustaches) were too busy selling vegetables and making coffee to be singing any songs about Coney Island (which also doesn’t exist here). Praise the Lord.
    PS Is Evil Peter Pumpkin Head a relative?

  6. My husband is a barbershopper, both in chorus and quartet form. I have lived through 25 years of barbershop quartet and chorus contests. Trust me when I say it’s like being in a special kind of hell. There are some amazing singers in the barbershop world – many of whom do voice work for Disney Parks and Studios, commercials and animated movies. One of the most famous supporters of the barbershop form of singing, and who is in a quartet himself, is Dick Van Dyke. But after you’ve heard 26 different quartets sing “Sweet Adeliiiiiiiiinnnne. My Adeliiiiiinnnnnneeeee”, your ears start bleeding and you lose the will to live!

  7. P.S. Isabella Golightly – don’t look now, but there IS an organization for Barbership Singing in Australia – it’s called AAMBS. Sorry.

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