Monday, April 05, 2004

Anatomy of an argument  

The context

The musical worship at my church is usually led by an energetic band and vocal group. They do their thing in our two morning services. Yesterday, due to capacity overload on Sunday mornings, the church offered a third service in the evening for the first time. Our gospel choir debuted to lead the music portion of worship in the third service so that the band would not pass out from exertion. My wife and I both sing in the soprano-dominated choir, and we both stand in front of the choir and sing into microphones (along with two or three other people) so that all harmonies will be clearly heard.

The setup

Our choir director, in an effort to give the group some visual cohesion, tells us to wear black pants or skirts with a white shirt or blouse, or jeans with a black shirt.

The complication

No matter what clothes I wear, I tend to look like a goof who doesn't know how to dress. My wife can, and often does, alleviate that by telling me what to wear. I do own a pair of black slacks and a white dress shirt (my only white shirt), but they were never intended to be worn together. I also own several pairs of jeans and a black shirt, but I am currently suffering from a raging case of dandruff and am afraid that a black shirt will make that condition all too public.

The initial solution

I speak to the director about my problem, and she tells me that I can wear jeans and a light-colored shirt.

Further complication

Mrs. Happy insists that the director is just too nice and too laid back to insist on conformity and tell me that if I dress in jeans and off-white, I'll look like the only one in the choir who didn't get the wardrobe memo. She is fiercely adamant that it is preferable for me to look like the "before" picture in a Head and Shoulders commercial (in jeans and a black shirt) or a New York cookie in awkward human form (in the black pants and white shirt) than to be the only member of the choir wearing neither black nor white. We discuss the merits of our viewpoints for at least an hour before we leave for church. Nothing she says convinces me that looking stupid is preferable to looking different.

The outcome

I dress in jeans and a light-colored shirt. Everyone else in the choir dresses in black and white. I concede to my wife that I look like a pork chop at a bar mitzvah. She apologizes for being such a bear. We sing our songs. We worship God with fellow believers. When the service is over, no one remembers or cares what either one of us wore.