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December 17, 2010

A Boar’s Head in the Hand

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I’ve had a pig at my table for two weeks.Actually a boar, not a pig.And only the head.A boar’s head.OK, it’s paper maché.I wanted one so the OK Chorale could process singing “The Boar’s Head Carol.”One of our altos, Gail, who teaches kindergarten at North Beach Elementary, volunteered her class to create a boar’s head.

I don’t know how she got it by the curriculum sheriff but it was processed (emphasis on first syllable) in time for our tech rehearsal: paper maché around a balloon with added snout, and covered in a mosaic of fabric with attached googly eyes. The paper maché boar’s head constituted our only piece of “tech” but it was useful to see how well it stood up to being processed (emphasis on second syllable).Because it kept rolling off its platter, the procession acolytes held it by its nose, making the fabric peel, one of the nostrils fall off and Gail fit to be tied, or trussed as the case may be.

The boar’s head came wee, wee, wee all the way home with me so I could get it ready for the dress rehearsal.I made a paper maché collar and attached it to its own platter.I re-wrapped the snout and re-attached the nostril.By then I was so fond of it, I gave it some cookies and left it on my table where I could enjoy it until its big night.

Its big night was last Friday when the Chorale outdid itself in a concert at the UCC church where we rehearse. I have great confidence that the Chorale can pull off a good concert but I wasn’t as certain they could walk down the aisle and sing at the same time.And I wasn’t certain I could organize it because part of what makes the Chorale so much fun is the fifth grade energy that emerges in rehearsals. Except that fifth graders spit and pull hair.Adults (usually) don’t:

“Where do you want the sopranos?”

“Don’t know yet.”

“How fast should we walk?”


“What if we get to the front before we finish singing?”

“I don’t know.Just stand there and finish singing.”

“Won’t that look weird?”

“In what way?”

“Should we all just walk down the center?”

“Meaning what?”

“We could come down both sides and cross in the front.”

“Excuse me while I get a Tums.”

“It’s such a short program, do we need the procession? I don’t think the audience would be bored if we just sang.”

“Not the point.”

In case you have no idea what I am going on about, Queens College, Oxford has a tradition where they march a boar’s head into the dining room singing this 15th century carol.It’s great fun to sing.The Chorale did it beautifully. Everyone in their Christmas finery, reindeer antlers, and elf feet, holding aloft a paper maché boar’s head with googly eyes and sunk in a pile of cookies, singing a venerable old English carol whose significance means nothing to us. After the concert we processed it to the social hall where there must have been 5000 cookies to frost, decorate and exchange. It was a fine evening.

I have become so fond of the boar’s head, I’ve been taking it in the car with me.I took is to my Second Sunday Poetry group and my Tuesday Morning Irregulars painting group, heaped with cookies from the exchange.I took it to my voice lesson.

It was with me when I saw my analyst.  That was interesting:  all those professionals and their clients trying to not look, and once having looked, trying to not re-act.  On the other hand, it wasn’t so unexpected.  Therapists have a lot of practice dispassionately observing odd behavior and clients in waiting rooms rarely look at anything except magazines and their own feet.

I took it with me, laden with treats when I went to meet its creators, Gail’s kindergarten class at North Beach Elementary.  Gail and I marched it around the classroom and sang the carol.  After seeing teacher and class, I understand where this paper maché boar’s head with the googly eyes gets its preternatural energy.

There’s still time. I wish I could volunteer the OK Chorale to process for you but we’ve knocked off for the season.  However I am willing to rent the boar’s head out for Christmas parties.  You may have to take a number.

Relaxing at home

Making friends

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