When I was preparing to come to China, I tried to learn important phrases in Chinese, like “Thank you”, “How much?” and “Where is the bathroom?” I did not learn “And now your foreign teacher is going to sing Edelweiss,” which would have given me a split-second advantage this morning.
I tried to explain that I was brought here under false pretenses, I thought I was on my way to a meet-and-greet with a dozen prospective middle-school students, not putting on an impromptu lounge act. (I decided not to quibble with the dozen becoming a gross, after all, this is China and exponential population growth is to be expected)
Then I tried to explain that I don’t actually know Edelweiss. I have a vague impression of white flowers and the Von Trapp Family escaping the Nazis, but no lyrics or tune.
“It’s an English song,” the headmistress explained, clearly as baffled by my refusal to burst into song as I was by her request. “and you are American,”
I wanted to tell her that she had the wrong sister — it’s actually Bethie who’s musically talented. I wanted my dad’s church choir to carry me through. I wanted alcohol, Stick and a kareoke version of the Human League, which is the way I usually sing in public. But I wasn’t going to get any of this.
I wish this were a photo of me singing You Are My Sunshine, but it’s actually me lecturing in the same room.
The children then reciprocated by singing to me. Hey, Dad, in your extensive knowledge of Christian music through the ages, is there a verison of Jingle Bells about bats?