God’s name is George ~

Readers of this blog may remember a post I made a few months ago called God in the checkout lane, in which I noted that God is working as a cashier at my local grocery store. I knew that because this man sounds more like God than Morgan Freeman does.

Tonight he was there again.

We said hello. I got up my courage and asked his name, and it’s George. I introduced myself.

I said, “You’re the man with the voice.” He answered, “And you’re the girl with the hair.”

That took me aback. So he was serious in our last encounter when he complimented my hair, which happened, as it so often does, to be dirty and disorderly. After I realized he wasn’t being snide, I’d thought perhaps he was just being charitable. After all, he’s a religious man; I remember he’d said that he sings in his church choir, ostensibly praising…well, God. (That seems appropriate. If the Bible is God’s Word for humankind, then any reasonable person must acknowledge that God thinks highly of himself.)

Anyway, I said, “Yeah, and it’s messed up again.” He said, “No, no, it looks good.”

Woo! God likes my hair. He approves of it. I have at least one redeeming quality.

We chatted some more as he scanned my items and my grocery bill grew to alarming heights. I told him I was hoping to start singing lessons again. He said, “You sing?” I said yes but that I wasn’t very good (you don’t lie to God, I figure). When he looked at the plastic sheaf of hydrangeas I’d placed on the checkout counter and said I had good taste, I didn’t know if he meant that in an aesthetic way or if it was a comment on the price. I quickly owned up that I buy flowers for myself, but that this bunch (seven bucks!) was a real splurge and that I usually go for the two-dollar carnations.

As I was loading the bags into my car, I realized there was something I wanted to know and I hadn’t asked.

Is God married?

If not, would God maybe want to get coffee sometime, or iced tea, or a beer, or whatever God drinks? Is that thought de facto blasphemous?

God is probably married. Or gay. Or too weary to get coffee with some crazy, dirty-haired white woman who, unbeknownst to him, writes about him and would perhaps like to be his friend. (I know God is supposed to be omniscient, but I don’t think he knows about this blog. Shhh!)

The very notion poses problems. For example, it would be helpful to know God’s last name. And can you just blurt out to God “Are you married?” And if I did, could I ever use his checkout lane again? If other people heard me, would God be embarrassed?

Does God have a last name?

Stay tuned.

I had to rewrite the ending of this post because I forgot, or perhaps repressed, the most critical thing. As I was wheeling my cart away from the checkout lane, God said, “Now you behave yourself.” And instead of saying “Yes sir,” I said, “You too.”

Imagine here a cartoon character clapping her hands over her mouth in horror. No one tells God to be good. No one in the Bible even suggests to God that he might be better, that a potential act is not worthy of his righteousness—except for Abraham, in one of the most remarkable passages in the Old Testament (Genesis 18:20-33).

When the next thunderstorm comes, I’m going to be especially wary of lightning strikes.

Please stand by ~

To Higher-Ups:

The Technical Team has noted serious technical difficulties with Blog entitled “Vapor and Flow,” with no forward (or backward) movement observed since mid-January. Blog is currently parked in the Driver’s front yard, where it seems to be accumulating trash. Driver has not yet had it put up on blocks, but Technical Team is on alert.

Team suspects a problem with the fuel injection system, though without hands-on investigation it is impossible to tell whether the gasoline tank might simply be empty. Team had noted some juddering of the steering wheel, accompanied by slightly erratic driving, in December and early January, indicating the need for immediate tire rotation and rebalancing. In addition, tires should be checked for wear. Driver has done none of this.

Driver herself, rather than repairing the Blog or addressing various ethical quandaries in her life at the moment, has become obsessed with the dog urine stains in her carpeting and the possibility of replacing the carpeting with something that can simply be hosed down. She daily repeats a monologue that always begins the same way (“I can’t stand this! What am I going to DO?”) and ends the same way (“But how would they move the piano?”). Technical Team estimates that said piano, a tall, ancient upright, weighs slightly more than a Volkswagen Beetle, flower holder included. Unlike a Beetle, the piano would probably not float, although Team finds this an intriguing question and would very much like to be notified of the results of any experiments along these lines. LOL.

Excuse us, that was unprofessional on our part. To continue, Driver also appears obsessed with a new personal best in Scrabble: her highest-ever non-bingo word score (GAZEBO, 84 points). While interesting numerically, this is judged by Team to be a rather trivial achievement in the grand scheme of things and recommends that Driver should just Get Over It.

Excuse us, please ignore editorial comment. Finally, Technical Team notes that on multiple occasions recently Driver has stated that she “dodged a bullet” because the voice student portion of a recent music recital was cancelled. This comment has been flagged for further analysis, but Team can only assume that someone slated to attend said recital was prepared to use firearms in the event of Driver singing. Team has insufficient information to gauge (pun! LOL) the appropriateness of the posited firearm use.

Excuse us again; Technical Team is fatigued and too easily amused. Team judges that Driver is currently earning A’s in Reading and Scrabble (quantity only), D’s in Physical Therapy and Caregiving, and F’s in Voice Lessons (lack of practice), Problem Resolution (dithering), Diet Remediation (inaction), Photography (inaction), and Blog Repair (inaction and negligence). Given this poor functioning, Driver’s hair looks better than might be expected, although Team is not well trained in assessing such matters.

In conclusion, Technical Team advises continued close monitoring of Blog and Driver, with future updates as necessary.

—Submitted February 23, 2014, ungodly hour of the morning
(Technical Team wishes to note that it has worked overtime on this report and would like to be duly compensated. Thank you.)

Twang, twang, twang ~

I grew up in St. Louis, the heart of the Midwest, where most of the natives lack a heavy regional accent. We possess the kind of vocal blandness that broadcasters are trained to achieve. Yet it appears that when I sing, at least some of the time I’m…uh…twangy.

I’m so ashamed. Even worse, because the accusation comes from my voice teacher, B., I have to take it seriously.

Last Thursday night, I ran through my newly assigned piece, a little slip of a song called “Fade Into You.” It’s dense with diphthongs: vowels that meld one vowel sound to another in the same syllable, like the long A (“late”), the long I (“line”), the long U (“lute”), and the vowel that can be expressed as oy (as in “loiter”).

Diphthongs are the heart and soul of twanginess. Without diphthongs there could be no country music. And here a disclaimer is needed: I have nothing against people with twangy accents or twangy singing voices. Truly. Don’t send me hate comments. Although I’m generally not a country music fan, I love Hank Williams and Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash. But in my voice lessons, twanginess is a Very Bad Thing.

Having run through the song my first time, I looked at B. expectantly. She scooted to the end of the piano bench and faced me. My tone was very good, she said, and my vibrato was rich. I started to relax and smile. Then she said, “But you’re killing the song. You’re killing the vowels because you’re twangy.”

She did a little imitation of me. “FAYYYD into YEWWW,” she sang.

“That is a gross exaggeration,” I protested. “I don’t sound like that. I’m not twangy.”

“You’re twangy,” she said flatly, and I could tell there was no point in arguing.

We worked on “fade.” She wrote down how she wanted me to pronounce it: basically like “fed,” with just a bit of the long A sound at the end. She demonstrated. “Hear how I’m almost singing ‘fed,’ but it still sounds like ‘fade’?” she said. I did hear, sort of. I asked her to sing the line as if the word actually were “fed.” She did. The difference between the two was barely discernible. I then realized that she essentially wanted me to un-diphthongize the diphthongs.


I sang the song again, concentrating so hard on clipping the diphthongs that my voice sounded distorted and unfamiliar. Indeed, it sounded disturbingly like a computer voice. I finished and looked at B. tentatively. “Was that better?” I asked.

“Much,” she said. “You were getting worn out at the end, but it was much better.”

“My voice sounded weird,” I noted.

“No it didn’t,” she said.

“And very deep,” I said.

She replied, “I think we need to do this in a higher register.”

OY!! Un-diphthongizing higher up the scale?! Please, no. But I tried it. I had to, because B. said so.

I try not to give this young woman too much grief. She knows her stuff—classical, jazz, Broadway, blues, pop. Plus, there is the consideration that she can always fire me as a student.

If I ever get around to practicing this week, I’ll do my best to avoid “FAYYYD” and “YEWW.” But Patsy Cline, I’m sure, would have scoffed “CrAAYY-zy!” Then she would have packed B. down to Kentucky or Tennessee so that she could hear what real honest-to-god twanginess sounds like. It might be quite a shock.