I’ve waited a long, long time before I’ve dared write this story, or someone moved out of State, or . . . and I’m not telling . . . but died, but now the needed event has passed, and I’m brave.
My friend, an accomplished pianist, was asked to play a Beethoven piece at an LDS meeting, and, figuring an hour or two in church wouldn’t hurt me, I said yes, when asked to go along.
You know how those meetings go. A little girl sang, a young lad said a few words; both taking no more than five minutes and then my friend was introduced. But I soon felt edgy, for I knew the piece he had chosen was no five minute piece, but more like 45 minutes.
But I decided he’d stop at the end of the first movement, but no, no, no. He passed by that coda as if not there, and one glance at his face told me, he was going to play Beethoven to the last note, and to heck with any time limits or rules.
I felt nervous, but I noted that the man in charge was doubly so, for he soon began fidgeting and glancing toward my friend. I tried to tell myself that the problem, the pianist and the leader’s nerves had nothing to do with me. But every nerve in me was standing at attention.
After about 15 minutes the man in charge was about to ‘have a cow’ as the kids say. Sweat was pouring from his face and he motioned for a young lad to come to the podium. They had some whispered words and I saw the kid’s face go white in horror. But the leader nodded firmly and the child, like a lamb to the slaughter, edged toward the piano.
He glanced back for mercy, but the leader was firm, and all the child could do was try to tell my friend to stop playing. And every person in the congregation was watching in fascination as my friend brushed off any message like some bothersome fly and the wonderful music continued.
Somehow I felt that I was part of the problem but also, I was fighting an almost uncontrollable urge to laugh. In fact I gave a couple of chortles, (disguised as coughs) and wondered if I had better leave the chapel. But I didn’t. And by then the entire congregation was watching in horror/fascination/humor/indignation. They realized this was very different from the usual Sacrament Meeting. But most were watching the battle to see whether Beethoven or the leader would win.
Well, I didn’t wonder, for I knew darn well that, short of whipping his music from the piano, my friend was going to play to the final note. But the man in charge didn’t give up easily, for then he walked to the piano and whispered in my friend’s ear.
I watched in fascination because I knew my friend and that he bowed to no one’s whispers. If he had been invited to play Beethoven, he was going to play Beethoven, whisper all they wanted. And he did.
Well, by then the congregation was split into thirds. One third closed their eyes and with smiles on their faces enjoyed the unexpected concert. The second group, like me, wanted to laugh and were grinning unabashedly at the tug of war going on. And the final group was angry.
They began looking daggers at me and I felt like standing up and explaining that I had nothing to do with it. I was an innocent bystander, too.
Well, eventually the concert ended (almost 45 minutes) and my friend rose in proud righteous indignation, and walked over and sat beside me. And no one was happier than I when the last prayer was said and we could get in the car and laugh.
But for heaven’s sake, there was no laughter, for my friend didn’t think it was funny and I spent the rest of the day listening to his indignation. By the time I got home, I was too tired to laugh. But the next day I shared the event with a couple of people who also like music and then the three of us laughed and laughed and laughed.
And the congregation that had gone to hear a routine meeting, instead heard a Beethoven concert they’d have paid big bucks in the concrt hall. Forty five minutes of solid enjoyment but to this day I think of it as the funniest time I’ve ever spent in church.