Almost a week of consistent updates consistently followed by a week of almost no updates. This is my schedule now.
Oh and this, my friends, has nothing to do with writing, but behold: an mp4 file I’ve labeled “Human Behavior.”
“Unseen Crackdown” might be a better name. Please note the series of events:
- 1 second in, with the volume turned up, you can hear people talking in the background as the Alleluia verse starts. Off camera and out of sight, a couple of unseen ne’er do wells in the front of the chapel (likely at the bottom of the hidden stairs that run down and behind the altar) apparently hadn’t realized that there was a service going on, and were definitely not trying to keep their voices down.
- 2 seconds in, and the Dean of the Chapel, realizing this is a problem, gets the attention of one of his student workers.
- The student worker
doesn’t understand at first until, after a few hesitant glances are exchanged, gets it; he disappears with a sharp nod at 7 seconds.
- Presumably out of the corner of his eye, the fellow in blue catches the student worker moving rapidly away, and figures out that something is going on.
- He either puts two and two together after staring after him for a long moment, or gives it up. Either way, he takes the opportunity to try to complete the sweep, sneaking a peak behind him to see who’s singing.
- It doesn’t work. I’m lurking in the shadow of a column just too far to his right, and he realizes he’s reached the outskirts of the range of a casual glance. Anything farther would look weird. Now 0 for 2, he gives up a second time and goes back to his hymnal.
- (The loud talkers are never heard from again, by which we can assume the student worker fulfilled the contract the Dean of the Chapel silently called out on them, and killed them.)
There is no earthly reason I should find this as funny as I do, but I spent a good five minutes yesterday afternoon cackling and replaying the few short seconds over and over again after I noticed the exchange while I was editing videos. There is nothing like immortalizing the throw away moments that make life interesting. When my dad served as minister at a church up near the border of Canada, a couple at the congregation used a multi-camera system to record the services from several different angles, wide shots, and closeups. Ten years of Sunday mornings, and Dad’s favorite video involved the casual murder of a near distraction when, in the middle of one of his first sermons as their pastor, he spotted a small, black insect crawling along the top of the pulpit. The camera was zoomed close enough that you can see the moment he catches sight of the intruder: flickering glance and then a double-take with his eyes. “You know as soon as the congregation sees it they’ll stop listening and spend the rest of the sermon watching it,” he explained later while skipping forward through the DVD copy, trying to find the moment to prove it to the rest of us. Without so much as faltering in his preaching, he casually but swiftly swept the bug into his hand, rolling it with brutal efficiency into a squashed ball between his thumb and his index finger.
“Vvvt,” he narrated as we laughed through a viewing of the moment for a third time, providing the sound effect of the bug being pinched right off the pulpit. Dad cackled again when he realized you could definitely see him casually drop the corpse on the ground. No one–no one–in the congregation noticed. Mission accomplished.
Another family favorite from our DVD collection of church services took place on Easter Sunday, years later. Dad had to steamroll through three worship services for the high feast day, and the family had abandoned him at one church’s early service in order to make it to pre-service Easter breakfast at the other, so he was, again, alone. Deep into the service, Dad realized that he had forgotten the prayers, which were special collects he had printed off at home plus prayer requests specific to the congregation. Fortunately, there was a hymn coming up right before prayers started. He calculated the timing in his head (3 to 4 minutes and maybe longer when you took into account the fact that the farther our organist got into her eighties, the slower she played), and thought: I can make that.
As soon as the hymn introduction started he made a break for it. On the video you can see him confidently exit stage left and down the aisle to the back of the sanctuary. Not on the video, he exits it into the hall and starts running. He then runs across the street to the parsonage, down the stairs, searches with increasingly panic-driven desperation for the prayers in the piles on his desk, finally finds them in the printer, runs back up the stairs, back across the street, down the church hall, and then, business-like, walks with the same nothing-to-see-here confidence he’d left with, marching back to the front just as the hymn is concluding.
At this point in the story, Dad had found the right spot in the video. He let it play, and the absolute best part was when he started praying. He sounded like he was choked up with emotion, and not a soul in the congregation knew he was trying to catch his breath. When my uncle pointed out that if Dad had been hit by a car while crossing the street he’d have left his congregation sitting in baffled silence, only to discover an unsolvable mystery when they finally found him dead on the street who knows how much later, he set off a howling round of laughter; topped off, about 30 seconds later, with Gram’s exasperated, “That isn’t funny.”
And yea, how the Schultz clan laughed.