Huge Ratings for Weird `Idol' AuditionsThursday, January 18, 2007 6:19 PM EST
The Associated Press By DAVID BAUDER
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — "The parade of awful amateurs on "American Idol" attracted viewers in staggering numbers this week as the series continues to grow in popularity."
Ok, I admit it. I watched it. I couldn't help myself. There is something about watching people make absolute asses of themselves willingly that attracts me. It's some weird fascination on my part, I guess. Perhaps its because I don't have the guts to get up there and give it all for one shot at glory.
Then, again, maybe I have. It must have been 1962, which would have made me seven years old. I know my brother hadn't left for Viet Nam yet, and my sister Linda had returned home after going AWOL at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. She hid in the swamps, so I was told, until they found her, and, probably with a section 8, decided to send her packing. Praise God that's all they did. Back in those days, boot camp was a hell of lot tougher to get out of than it is now. And the drill sergeants could pretty much do what they wanted to you.
Anyway, I digress. My brother was a big church goer. In our community, other than school, which he attended on an irregular basis, church was the only way to meet girls. So, to church, he went, with his hair slicked back with Vaseline, his pegged pants, and old spice, dragging my two sisters with him. This time, I begged and whined enough so they let me go, too. I remember how excited I was to go to church. Mother had had a 'falling out' with the church members and refused to go back to that den of hypocrites, so she remained at home. Daddy only went to church if there was a funeral.
So, we got to church, and I was awed by the atmosphere, that particular church smell of wax and old song books, all of the people sitting in the pews, or on benches as I thought. I was told repeatedly to be quiet and behave. Which I did tolerably well until a little red-haired girl sat down beside me. Patsy, her name was, and she was a fire-cracker. I thought she was wonderful.
We prayed and sang songs, and the preacher got up and ran his mouth for what seemed an hour, while my brother, who was sitting behind me, cracked jokes, and made eye contact with this girl and that. My sister Linda, the giggler, did what she did best, giggle. When a neighbor lady who did not wear undergarments, don't ask me why, got the spirit on her, and began jumping around, kicking up her legs overcome by the holy spirit, I thought my sister was going to crawl under the pew, she was giggling so hard.
I just watched her in wonder, as every other time I had met this lady, who had about nine boys, she always seemed to act pretty normal. All three of my siblings seemed to be having a excellent time, and me and Patsy, sat side by side, watching the antics of our fellow church goers. Eventually, the end of the service came, and, the preacher called for anyone who had not been saved to come forward. He asked, with utmost kindness and compassion in his voice, "Have you been saved? Have you confessed your sins to the Lord?" Patsy turned to me, and asked the same question, "Have you been saved yet? I was last year, it was ok." Well, being the idiot I was at seven, I raised my hand. Immediately the preacher was on me like white on rice. "Oh, praise the Lord, come here child, come on, don't be afraid, the Lord is happy tonight!" I didn't know I was going to have to get up and walk up to the pulpit in front of everybody, but I did. Scared as hell, I did. I remember hearing my brother saying, "Shitfire, I told you guys to watch her, now look what she's doing!"
So, I am standing up there by the preacher, looking at a sea of faces, scared to death, wondering what their going to do to me. The old men in the Amen corner, which was a little bench where old men said Amen every so often, were having fits of ecstasy. The preacher looked at me, and said, "Precious child, are you ready to be saved?" I nodded my head, figured I'd gone this far, might as well finish the job, and said, "Yes." Then the preacher started praying, thanking the Lord that this poor lost soul had come home at last, all her sins were forgiven, and she would live forever in the grace of the Lord." I was so scared by this time, I started crying, which just proved to the preacher that I had acknowledged my heathen ways and was overcome with remorse and joy. Finally, everyone settled down, I stopped crying, figuring the worst part was over, and I would get to sit back down again. Nope, not yet. Pew by pew everyone came up to me and shook my hand. Some were kids I knew from school, already eyeing me with that "boy are we going to give you a rough time at school" look. My brother and sisters came forward, shaking my hand, looking as if I had peed on their shoes or something. Finally, everyone had shook my hand, all the old ladies had hugged me, and blessed me, and the preacher turned to me and asked, "How do you feel, now, child?" I shrugged and said, "I feel ok." He made a funny kind of face, but made the most of what I said.
Then they sang some more songs, threw in few more amens, and we got to go home. All the way home, my brother and sisters, fussed and griped at me, for making a fool of the whole family. I protested. "No, I didn't. I just got saved. All my sins were forgiven!" My brother said, "What sins, pulling the cat's tail??" By the time I got home, I was reduced yet again to tears, and when I walked in the house, my mother, being in one of her more lucid moments, "Said, honey, what happened?" My brother piped up and said, "Oh, everything's fine. She just decided she wanted to shake hands with everyone in the church is all." I went to the girls room, the room where the girls slept, and thought about the whole evening. I was not quite sure what all had taken place. Evidently, I was supposed to be happy, and I guessed singing church songs all the time. But, for some reason, I felt miserable, and vowed to myself I was never going to church again. And, I decided I didn't like that girl with the red hair. She started the whole thing in the first place.
It took me years before I would enter another church, and I only went that time because there was a funeral, and my dad made me go.
So, I guess this illustrates why I am fascinated by watching people make complete fools of themselves. I know what it feels like.