“I’ve been doing lots of practicing for choir tour because we’re going to New York,” Mickey said as she cleaned with my Mother.
“That’s cool. You’re in a choir.”
“A church choir.”
“Oh, that’s cool,” I said passingly. I was in numerous church choirs. My mother was the youth minister at more Catholic churches than I have digits.
“We’re traveling up to New York and stopping at different places.”
“What kind of music do you guys sing?”
“We’re singing mostly praise and worship stuff.”
I think, Oh, God. Praise and worship music. Let my ears bleed rivers.
Instead I reply, “Oh, that’s cool.”
“I sing and I drum. I’m the only girl drummer. I get picked to do all the girl songs.”
“Wait, what is a ‘girl song’?”
“Well, I’m the first girl drummer the church has ever had in the choir and they like to have a girl drummer to make it an all girl band. I play about two of the ten songs we sing.”
“Wait, so this isn’t some Southern sexist You’re-A-Female-Minority-You-Can’t-Vote thing?”
“No, it’s kind of a cool thing we do because we have a girl guitarist and girl piano player and, for some songs, they put me in to have a girl drummer. It’s cool. We get to be an all girl band.”
A-ha. It’s actually vaguely feminist, rather vaguely sexist.
“Where are you guys going on this tour?”
“We’re going to North Carolina, Virginia, Baltimore, New York, and travel around in between. We’re taking two buses. There’s like a hundred and ten people plus chaperones going.”
“Wow,” I say as a million high school band trips and church bus rides flash through my head in a frenzy. My palms sweat.
“Oh. I got an offer from an older piano player in the choir to be in a band! They want me to come by and play with them. I even got a text to play with them.”
“That’s awesome!!” I say enthusiastically. A beat passes and I ask, “Is this a Jesus band?”
“No, I think they’re more mainstream. I’m not sure what they play, but he has a drum set and they record what they play. I don’t know what they’ve recorded or anything like that. It seems pretty cool.”
“Where would you guys play? I mean, you guys can’t get into bars and clubs.”
“They get some pretty good venues. Churches and stuff.”
Of course. Churches.
“I got into Cotillion,” she mentions suavely.
“What does that even mean?”
“It basically means I’m a true Southern belle”
“…but what does that mean?”
“It’s the top level of Social, which is an etiquette class. It’s the thing to do in Georgia.”
“I knew Social kids–but not cotillion,” I say as Mr. Cool because I did know Social kids. When I was in Augusta for high school and middle school, Social was the thing for cool, white, preppy, rich kids. They would learn how to dance and how to use proper utensils and how to wear fancy clothes and how to drive Range Rovers and how to get into UGA and how to win Homecoming Queen and the like. I didn’t do Social because I wasn’t cool or preppy or rich: I was just white.
But, it looks like the times have changed for the Fitzpatrick Family of Augusta, GA by way of Queens, NY and Aibonito, PR. We’re upwardly mobile!
“When I first had to do Social, I was crying because I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to get a Southern accent.”
A-ha, she shared the same sentiment as me.
“But, still. What does it mean to be in cotillion??!!”
“We help teach classes and we plan classes. And there’s a big, big party at the end.”
“So, is it like the proper one where you’re introduced as a lady in the town or whatever?”
“Yeah, at the end of the year there is this dance where we’re the center of attention. We lead this march and then we dance every dance with the first, second, and third year kids and later on they introduce us by couple.”
“So, you can only participate in cotillion this year and then you’re done? Then, you’re a lady?”
“We can do it this year and then next year we can apply to be in lead cotillion.”
“Oh, God. What does that mean?”
She giggles, admitting, “I’m not really sure. I only know one person who’s done it and he’s doing it this year. It’s probably a lot of planning stuff and pre-social meetings. Most of my friends got in [to cotillion] but I’m afraid to call my partner to see if he got in.”
“Even if he doesn’t get in, we get a new partner based on height–they pick it though. We have a lot of meetings and in the end we have a big meeting that our parents come to in Social attire, which is dress shirts, ties, and big, formal dresses.”
With her mentioning that, I could hear the sound of sweat dripping down my father’s very conservative, non-ostentatious, Don’t-Mind-Me-I’m-Just-Here-To-Help-Out face.
“Dad’s a little worried about it.”
I KNEW IT. “We were talking about it during dinner and he was like, ‘I hope we don’t have to talk while we’re there.’ And mom told him, ‘That’s the whole point!’”
Ah, parents. The times and their children may change, but they never do.