Monday, December 26, 2011

Inflection Point

 By Rob Watson
(Wikipedia had a great segment describing inflection points)

You may claim that math was not one of your best subjects, but I'm hoping you will remember one small fact. On a curve, on a graph, the slope of a tangent to the curve may change from negative to positive (or positive to negative). That point is called an inflection point. In application to life, it is where things change. A major change. At my 40th high school class reunion I heard comments that I had changed from a quiet helper to a standup, take charge type. This is the story of the day that happened; my inflection point. It was the Fourth of July.

As often happens, a change in one part of your life leads to other changes. One decision leads to others of the same nature. And so it was with this day. The decision, insignificant as it might seem, was to kiss a woman.

I have always been a passive-aggressive type. Wanting things to change, knowing or guessing how to make them change, but not taking the action. My failure with women was always that of "courtin' too slow". I knew when to ask a girl out, but didn't. I knew when to take a girls hand, but didn't. I recognized the correct time to kiss a girl and never (or almost never) was bold enough to take my chance. Always a case of too little, too late.

This July Fourth began at midnight, at a coworker's country cabin, with a group of a dozen or so coworkers, playing bridge. It was two years passed my divorce and I was a year into courting new prospects. No firm attachments had formed, as previously described. About 2 AM, after 6 hours of good food, good drink, (I was sober) and good competitive card games, I took my leave from the group... I had a date at 8 AM for a picnic, and a concert to perform at 8 PM.

For reasons, never clear to me, the hostess, attractive and single, saw me to the door. Then, engaged in pleasant conversation, walked me to my car. As I said "Thanks" and "good night" again, she looked as if she needed kissing. So, entirely out of character, I took her into my arms and kissed her. Not a peck. Not a passionate kiss... Leads a thinking man like myself to wonder if a kiss needs to be calibrated. Something needed doing and I did it. In the moments following that kiss I knew something was changing, but had no idea how big a change it would be. I would know before another midnight had passed.

At 8 AM, I arrived for my date. She had a very nice house, product of a divorce, and a small son, product of her marriage. We prepared the picnic foods together and ate it about noon in her large back yard. One of the products of my "courtin too slow" was not planning ahead. So, it was about 2 PM that I asked her to go with me to the concert by Town Lake. Embarrassed, she declined, saying she had already accepted a date for that event. She needed to get ready for that so I gracefully bowed out. Bidding good day and thanks, I collected my second kiss of the day.

With boldness running rampant, I called a lady and asked her to supper and the concert, explaining I would be singing with the City Civic Chorus. She accepted. Who would have thunk it? Three women, three dates. three kisses, all in one day.

I have always been the patriotic sort, so the concert of patriotic songs was perfect for my day. There was the City Civic Orchestra and the State National Guard, Field Artillery Unit. There were two banks of loud speakers. Each speaker was about 4 feet across and 4 feet high, with 12 speakers in each bank. They drew so much power you could almost see the city lights dim on a triple forte note. We of the City Civic Chorus were the center of it all. The finale was the 1812 overture in english. I was on the back row with the other basses. There was a plywood panel behind me and touching my back. There was so much sound from all sources that it was a challenge to hear the men on either side of me. Everyone was making as much noise as humanly possible just to keep up. I have never sung so loud before or sense.

The cannon, Actually howitzers from the State National Guard, were some 3-400 feet behind us, pointing directly at us. When one of them was set off the muzzle blast would hit the plywood and slap me on the back.

Perhaps you had to be there... In the center of thousands of people, in the middle of a very fine chorus, accompanied by an excellent orchestra, supported by four 105mm howitzers... When the guns started to go off, in perfect accompaniment to the music, I was uplifted to the limit of my ability to cope and still perform my part. Few moments, in one’s life, are so fine in all of its elements as this one was.

As midnight rolled around, recalling three kisses and one spectacular musical event, I could not help but feel like Cornelius Hackle at the end of his day. (see Hello Dolly) I had succeded at boldly doing what I had never considered doing before.

The decision to “go for it” had replaced “wait and see” and that, as they say, made all the difference.

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