The Sound Booth Stare
I’m pretty sure there’s an unwritten rule of blogging somewhere that says, “Never call attention to your absence.” For example, if a certain blogger had been non-productive in the blogosphere since, oh, say… October 9th, then that blogger might feel compelled to apologize for the absence, talk about how busy he (or she!) may have been, and make some lame joke about how many of you might have wondered if he (or she!) had died.
But not here. Nosirree. At Connective Tissue, you won’t find this guy (or girl!) making excuses. Nope. I’ve forged on through life and refuse to wallow in the mire of time-busters such as Staff Retreat ’08 or upcoming mass baptism services or a faulty transmission on my wife’s car.
Editor’s note: He (or she!) is also very much alive, by the way.
One of my favorite daily reads is Stuff Christians Like. I’ve often wanted to do a shameless ripoff called Stuff Church People Like, or better yet… Stuff Summit People Like. If I were to undertake such a pathetic display of creative plagiarism, my first post would be called the Sound Booth Stare.
The Sound Booth Stare is something that all church people like. Yesterday morning I was sitting in our 9 AM worship service, minding my own business, when I was reminded of the SBS. Here’s the way it went down: a technical glitch was pronounced enough that it was noticed by … um … more than a few people. In yesterday’s case, a video started, but instead of a cool and normal malfunction like picture but no sound, we had sound but no picture.
At first, I assumed it was one of our creative team guy’s artsy techniques from his fancy school where he learned how to edit videos and put computer-generated ivy vines on everything. I could just imagine the professor taking a swig of his soy latte, stroking his goatee, and saying, “What you cats need to realize is that a black screen is in, man. Disembodied voices…that’s where it’s at.” But then I realized that, no, somebody just forgot to hit the switch that’s labeled Heck Yes You Need Sound AND Picture.
That’s when the SBS began. In the dusky gray of a darkened auditorium, I saw at least twenty heads flip around and thirty-nine eyeballs stare disapprovingly at the men and women in the sound booth (one guy was pretending to be Popeye). Their mouths made no noise, but the look in their eyes very clearly said, “I know that we’re in the same room and looking at the same screen, but perhaps you didn’t notice that there is a snafu in your process, and if I had to guess I’d say it had something to do with all them wires.”
As a veteran volunteer of the sound booth way back in my high school days, I’m very familiar with the Sound Booth Stare. I’d be doing my best to balance my time between getting the cassette deck ready to record the sermon, making sure that the Sony Camcorder was zoomed in just the right amount, studying my Algebra 2 homework for the next morning, and hitting “play” on Miss Debbie’s People Need the Lord solo, when I realized that Miss Debbie was singing along with the demo track, rather than the performance track…perhaps the cardinal sin of sound booth volunteers.
Never mind that Miss Debbie handed me the tape and told me that the performance track was on Side A and no matter how much I questioned her she assured me that Side A was indeed the right side and if for some reason heaven forbid I should play Side B I would ruin a musical masterpiece about Jesus showing up at the end of broken dreams and being the open door.
That’s why I’m an authority on the SBS, because I’ve been the recipient more times than I can count. And that’s why, nearly two decades later, I still feel awkward when I see other sound booth people receive The Stare.
I’m not sure what people hope to accomplish by delivering The Stare. Perhaps they hope to telepathically fix the problem. Perhaps they are trying to figure out who is responsible so they can offer them up as a “prayer request” that night in their small group. Maybe they’re just looking for something to fill their time because, after all, there’s nothing to see on the doggone screen.
I would like to make a proposal that the sound booth people have a little fun with the SBS. The next time they are on the receiving end of the Stare, they should have one of those little laser pointers ready to shine in their eyes and temporarily blind them. Or they could hold up a sheet of poster board that says, “Hey genius, if you’re so smart why don’t you sign up to help us?” Or even better, we could cover the sound booth in reflective glass so that when somebody stares back there, they just see themselves staring back. Spooky.
Whatever the solution, I think we must realize, that we must give our lives, because people need the Lord.