Tonight was the annual ward Christmas party/dinner, and to be honest, I hadn’t originally planned on going. Those in charge of the event were really pushing the ward members to turn out for the thing; the activities committee had decided to do a “Polar Express” kind of theme in order to try and kick start everyone’s interest in going. Everyone in the ward got sent little golden translucent tickets to the event which granted them a brief ride on the Polar Express before being granted admission to the cultural hall, where the youth of the ward had been recruited to wear Hot Chocolatier chef outfits and elf costumes.
Just this last Sunday, I got asked to be one of the two train conductors for the event; I was given to understand that my recent community theater involvement was at least partially responsible for someone thinking I might make a good conductor. I’ve gotten to be somewhat well known in the ward for my amateur thespian proclivities, thanks to a supportive Sunday School instructor who always made sure that the class knew when I was acting in a community theater play and what it was about.
Adding to my reluctance to participate, it was my birthday tonight, and though I knew I didn’t have any money to go and do anything special, I was still a little hesitant to give up “my” day to spend it dressing up as a character in a movie I hadn’t really seen but a couple of times, and certainly not recently. Fortunately, the other requested conductor (we had two train cars running in parallel, kind of like a ride at Disneyland, so as to not make everybody wait too long to get into the building) was able to procure enough costume pieces, props and a fake mustache, to give me enough credibility as a conductor on the Polar Express to make the thing fun. If you can get a decent costume, it can hide a multitude of sins and give a boost to one’s flagging enthusiasm. I’m what you would call “portly” (if you’re being polite) and am a bit of a difficult fit when it comes down to finding me a costume.
So I spent some time over the last couple of nights trying to work up a semi-decent vocal imitation of Tom Hanks’ character in the movie, and I think it came off OK. Sounds a little bit like Don Adams’ old Maxwell Smart character, but in small doses — 5 minute’s worth — it’s not too irritating. Or so I hope. Checked everybody’s ticket, pretended to lose my balance here and there as the train “rolled” along, and just generally hammed it up.
Speaking of ham, that was on the dinner menu, so I guess it was entirely appropriate.
So, despite my initial reluctance, I’m glad I did it. Special thanks go to Brother McFadyen, who, as I understand it, was the original Wally Kessler in “Saturday’s Warrior” way back when, and who was the other conductor who did the hard work of coming up with the costume pieces for me. He definitely gave me the needed boost to make me want to do more with this than to simply go through the motions.
Wonder what they’ll want to do next year… ?