When my oldest daughter Caroline joined the Fairfield County Children's Choir three years ago, we immediately tried to get into a car pool. The rehearsals were across town from our house.
After eight phone calls, we found that all the coveted car pools were settled years earlier. Apparently, car pool slots were handed down from generation to generation.
As a last resort, we started our own pool of newcomers. Our band of misfits consisted of Caroline's friend Mimi and a girl who I called "Red Glasses," as she had red glasses and I never knew her name. Then a girl joined who had just gotten braces and she tended to spray loose saliva when she spoke (or sang) consonants. I started to call Caroline "Sponge Hair," as she sat in front of "Spit Girl" and a lot of the spray hit her hair.
Mimi left after the first year. Red Glasses moved to Hartford. Spit Girl switched to a retainer, so she moved up to better car pool. We added our younger daughter, Julia, and her friend Sara. Sara has no H at the end of her name.
In August of this year, we got the long desired call. An A list car pool called us. It was like being called up to the Yankees. Our new additions were Sarah with an H, and two kids with red hair. I call them Red 1 and 2
We did fine until the first week. The first family provided a snack for the kids. We were amazed. Hopefully, that as just an aberration. All we had provided in our earlier car pool was a splash guard for the person in front of Spit Girl.
Caroline came home from the second rehearsal, and said "Mrs. V had cupcakes and assorted baked goods." Assorted baked goods. Damn it!
There was quite a bit of pressure on our first drive. Thankfully, it was immediately after Halloween. We could give them left over Halloween candy. My wife worried about the potential peanut allergies in the car pool. If so, I would take one for the team and eat all the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Also I would eat all the York Peppermint Patties and Whoppers for good measure. We packaged up the candy into see-through Ziplock bags like we were going through an airport. Everybody got four things. There were no allergies.
The next week my wife informed me that I had to pick them up after a special audition. This far after Halloween all that was left was the hard crappy candy that no one liked. I was imagining that we would get booted back down to Mimi and Spit Girls' car pool. I had nothing as I approached Caroline, H and Red #1. Red #2 was away. I explained that I had nothing then I mumbled on about the short notice, hard crappy candy, etc. They seemed not to care.
They were very excited about the audition. Each one of them auditioned in front of more than 100 of their fellow choristers and the staff of the FCCC. They were trying out for coveted solo spots in the upcoming holiday concert. They talked about how nervous they felt before and how relieved they were afterwards that they didn't screw up. Red #1 said she had auditioned seven times over the years, and she had yet to be picked for a solo. She was convinced that someday she would be picked, so she volunteered to audition every time.
As a non-singer, nothing would terrify me more than to stand in front of a crowd and sing. These kids were volunteering to do it, solo, on a regular basis. If they didn't make it, they would try again. I realized that I was very proud of them. These kids had guts. I couldn't remember their names but I was very proud of the courage of our little car pool. When I learned that 120 kids tried, I became proud of them all.
Join Spit Girl, Sponge Hair, Julia, No H, H, Red 1 and 2 for the FCCC holiday concert at the Klein Memorial Auditorium on Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $20, and are available at the Klein Auditorium, 910 Fairfield Ave. For information, call (203) 414-4292