CCCE- In Memory of “Robby”

November 28, 2006

I found this one at a site called “Pass Out for Jesus,” which is not, I was disappointed to learn, a Christian autoerotic asphyxiation site. It just has a bunch of stories its readers are encouraged to send in emails or print out and hand out, you know, to pass out. For Jesus.

~ In Memory of “Robby” ~

At the prodding of my friends, I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Hondorf. I am a former elementary school music teacher from Des Moines, Iowa. I’ve always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons-something I’ve done for over 30 years. Over the years I found that children have many levels of musical ability. I’ve never had the pleasure of having a prodigy though I have taught some talented students.

However I’ve also had my share of what I call “musically challenged” pupils. One such student was Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his mother (a single Mom) dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I prefer that students (especially boys!) begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Robby.

But Robby said that it had always been his mother’s dream to hear him play the piano. So I took him as a student. W! ! ell, Robby began with his piano lessons and from the beginning I thought it was a hopeless endeavor.

As much as Robby tried, he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel. But he dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary pieces that I require all my students to learn.

Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed and tried to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he’d always say, “My mom’s going to hear me play someday.” But it seemed hopeless. He just did not have any inborn ability. I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped Robby off or waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled but never stopped in.

Then one day Robby stopped coming to our lessons.

I thought about calling him but assumed because of his lack of ability, that he had decided to pursue something else. I also was glad that he stopped coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching!

Several weeks later I mailed to the student’s homes a flyer on the upcoming recital. To my surprise Robby (who received a flyer) asked me if he could be in the recital. I told him that the recital was for current pupils and because he had dropped out he really did not qualify. He said that his mother had been sick and unable to take him to piano lessons but he was still practicing. “Miss Hondorf . . . I’ve just got to play!” he insisted.

I don’t know what led me to allow him to play in the recital. Maybe it was his persistence or maybe it was something inside of me saying that it would be all right. The night for the recital came. The high school gymnasium was packed with parents, friends and relatives. I put Robby up last in the program before I was to come up and thank all the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage he would do would come at the end of the program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my “curtain closer.”

Well, the recital went off without a hitch. The students had been practicing and it showed. Then Robby came up on stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked like he’d run an eggbeater through it. “Why didn’t he dress up like the other students?” I thought. “Why didn’t his mother at least make him comb his hair for this special night?”

Robby pulled out the piano bench and he began. I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen Mozart’s Concerto #21 in C Major. I was not prepared for what I heard next. His fingers were light on the keys, they even danced nimbly on the ivories. He went from pianissimo to fortissimo. From allegro to virtuoso. His suspended chords that Mozart demands were.

Magnificent! Never had I heard Mozart played so well by people his age. After six and a half minutes he ended in a grand crescendo and everyone was on their feet in wild applause.

Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby in joy. “I’ve never heard you play like that Robby! How’d you do it? ” Through the microphone Robby explained: “Well Miss Hondorf . . . remember I told you my Mom was sick? Well, actually she had cancer and passed away this morning. And well . . she was born deaf so tonight was the first time she ever heard me play. I wanted to make it special.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house that evening. As the people from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be placed into foster care, noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy and I thought to myself how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my pupil.

No, I’ve never had a prodigy but that night I became a prodigy. . . of Robby’s. He was the teacher and I was the pupil For it is he that taught me the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself and maybe even taking a chance in someone and you don’t know why.

Robby was killed in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995. And now, a footnote to the story.

Do I even have to tell you that it didn’t happen? At least these people cleaned it up a little. Des Moines is spelled right, Robby isn’t playing piano (in the Murrah Federal Building? Wha?) when he dies. Still sappy bullshit, though. Select quotes:

Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby in joy. “I’ve never heard you play like that Robby! How’d you do it? ” Through the microphone Robby explained: “Well Miss Hondorf . . . remember I told you my Mom was sick? Well, actually she had cancer and passed away this morning. And well . . she was born deaf so tonight was the first time she ever heard me play. I wanted to make it special.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house that evening. As the people from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be placed into foster care, noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy and I thought to myself how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my pupil.

Couple things wrong here: enjoying music is pretty much culturally dependent. With the exception of percussion, which is common to all cultures and can mimic rhythms found in nature, like a heartbeat, a listener has to already be used to the type of music being played. It’s why old people don’t listen to rap and some Americans might not enjoy Chinese opera. It just isn’t what they’re used to. So why would a woman who’s been deaf since birth enjoy a Mozart piano piece now that she’s dead and can hear? That seems like a detail that wouldn’t sit well with the Deaf community. I’ll tell you what would have been a better story: if Robby had taken vocal lessons to impress his dead deaf mom. Then she would have gotten to hear the sound of his voice. That would at least make sense. Another thing that doesn’t make sense is that Robbie’s going to foster care now that his mother’s dead. She had cancer- she knew she was dying, Robbie knew she was dying, why didn’t she make arrangements for his care? Did she have no relatives or friends able to take the kid in? And why did the Social Services people come onto the stage to take Robby to foster care? They could have at least waited until he got offstage and had a chance to talk to people and, like, get some cookies and punch at the back. That was just adding insult to injury.

And now, a footnote to the story.

I think whoever edited this didn’t do a good enough job excising the “OMG and he was playing PIANO when he died!!1” part, because why does the last sentence start with “and” and promise a footnote? Unless you’re Paul Harvey (and if you are Paul Harvey, dude, you’re 88 and haven’t been relevant, well, ever, so you can go ahead and retire,) don’t end your story with an “and” sentence.

Scoring:
Severe and frequent grammar/spelling/punctuation errors
I don’t know if they’re formatting errors or what, but there’s some random capitalization going on here.

Snopes (and every other debunking-type site) presence

Out of the mouths of babes
I’m going to go ahead and call it that, because we’re supposed to all say “Aww, he wanted his Mommy to hear him play up in heaven.”

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CCCE Non-Scoring Round- God, Be in Me

November 27, 2006

This is one I found online. I’m not subjecting it to my scoring system; I just wanted to share it because I found it kinda funny. Apparently, I’m twelve.

God, Be In Me
~original text author unknown~

God, be in my head,
And in my understanding.

God, be in my eyes,
And in my looking.

God, be in my mouth,
And in my speaking.

God, be in my heart,
And in my thinking.

God, be at my end,
And at my departing.

Amen

Hee, dirty. I mean, “God, be in my mouth” and “God, be at my end.” I thought Christians didn’t do those things. I do take issue with “God, be in my eyes,” because that hurts.


New Reader Submitted CCCE- Do You Smell That?

November 10, 2006

::Oh, for fuck’s sake, this didn’t get published when I finished it? That’s what I get for not checking the site after I update. I apparently finished this November 10, and it’s just now getting published. Sorry ’bout that.::

This reader submission is a piece I’d heard about but hadn’t seen in its full form. It was sent in by Tamara. Thanks Tamara!

Do You Smell That?

—– At the end of this story, it gives you two options.
I think you will figure out what option I chose.

A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing. She was still groggy from surgery.

Her husband, David, held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news.

That afternoon of March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency Cesarean to deliver couple’s new daughter, Dana Lu Blessing.

At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature.
Still, the doctor’s soft words dropped like bombs.

“I don’t think she’s going to make it,” he said, as kindly as he could.

“There’s only a 10-percent chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one.”

Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Dana would likely face if she survived.

She would never walk, she would never talk, she would probably be blind, and she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation, and on and on.

“No! No!” was all Diana could say.

She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away.

But as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana.

Because Dana’s underdeveloped nervous system was essentially ‘raw’, the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort, so they couldn’t even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love. All they could do, as Dana struggled alone beneath the ultraviolet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.

There was never a moment when Dana suddenly grew stronger.
But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there.

At last, when Dana turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time. And two months later, though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero, Dana went home from the hospital, just as her mother had predicted.

Five years later, when Dana was a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life. She showed no signs whatsoever of any mental or physical impairment. Simply, she was everything a little girl can be and more. But that happy ending is far from the end of her story.

One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving, Texas, Dana was sitting in her mother’s lap in the bleachers of a local ball park where her brother Dustin’s baseball team was practicing.

As always, Dana was chattering nonstop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent Hugging her arms across her chest, little Dana asked, “Do you smell that?”

Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, “Yes, it smells like rain.”

Dana closed her eyes and again asked, “Do you smell that?”

Once again, her mother replied, “Yes, I think we’re about to get wet. It smells like rain.”

Still caught in the moment, Dana shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, “No, it smells like Him.

It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest.”

Tears blurred Diana’s eyes as Dana happily hopped down to play with the other children.

Before the rains came, her daughter’s words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along.

During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Dana on His chest and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.

You now have 1 of 2 choices. You can either pass this on and let other people catch the chills like you did, or you can delete this and act like it didn’t touch your heart like it did mine.

IT’S YOUR CALL!

“I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.”

This morning when the Lord opened a window to Heaven, He saw me, and He asked: “My child, what is your greatest wish for today?” I responded:

“Lord please, take care of the person who is reading this message, their family and their special friends. They deserve it and I love them very much” The love of God is like the ocean, you can see its beginning, but not its end.

I did some research on this one, and it’s apparently (kind of) true. But while it’s based on a true story, and it’s really great that the little girl overcame the odds and has lived a healthy, happy life, it doesn’t make the story any less annoyingly sappy. Plus, it comes from one of the “Chicken Soup for the __” books, and those are just awful.

So, quotes:

Before the rains came, her daughter’s words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along.

During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Dana on His chest and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.

One reason I like little kids is that they’ll just say random shit sometimes. They do that because their brains aren’t fully developed, and they’re processing the complicated stimuli of the outside world as well as they can. Adults shouldn’t take these things seriously, but when you believe there’s an invisible man living in the sky you’ll buy just about anything.

You now have 1 of 2 choices. You can either pass this on and let other people catch the chills like you did, or you can delete this and act like it didn’t touch your heart like it did mine.

I’m not acting like it didn’t touch my heart- I’m telling you that it didn’t.

Sorry about the lack of quotes here. I started the post yesterday evening, went to work intending to finish it on meal break, then had to leave to deal with a family medical emergency and just got back into town. Here’s the scoring:

Color
I’m learning a lot of html formatting some of these emails for the site.

Appeared on Snopes
Sure it was true, but it’s there.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Me and God are Like This!