A few weeks ago, I’d been feeling quite inadequate, dear reader. I don’t mean inadequate in the sense that I couldn’t get an erection (though erectile dysfunction is a serious health problem that makes big pharma millions of dollars a year), but rather that I felt impotent in the face of modernity, death’s impending oblivion and the impossible demands of being a full-time student while also having to do my own laundry. Most men cope with their metaphorical castration by smoking cigars, playing golf or voting for Donald Trump (or, if you’re Casey Affleck, you glare at the ground, as he did throughout “Manchester by the Sea,” universally regarded as 2016’s worst movie). I, however, sought a different route. To make myself feel macho, empowered and ineffably badass, I decided to immerse myself in Yale’s most syphilitic cesspool of toxic testosterone. That’s right, dear reader, I boldly dared to rush an all-male a cappella group.
You may ask, dear reader, how I decided upon a cappella in the first place, or specifically all-male a cappella, colloquially referred to as cockappella. It is true that before I auditioned, I didn’t actually know how to spell a cappella, thinking it was one word and not overburdened with unnecessary letters (1 “l” and 1 “p” gets the job done, thank you). It is also true that I’ve never been to an official a cappella show, though the same girl sings the same slurred version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” outside my window every Saturday night. But I did know for sure that all-male a cappella groups hump more strangers than a labradoodle in Central Park. Additionally, I wanted a free t-shirt. And more friends.
As you can see, my intentions were in the right place. My first task was to find the perfect all-male a cappella group for me, namely one that privileged good looks and conversational skills over musical talent. As I skipped through Davenport’s courtyard (the dining hall was about to close, so I was in a rush), I discovered that a group fitting this exact description had set up a recruitment table. A beaming, seemingly wholesome young man with mild acne and a pocket protector (which likely guarded his extra-lubricated bare skin condoms) leapt up from the table and asked me if I wanted to audition for the Jizzlewankers. Do I need to tell you my answer, dear reader?
Leaving nothing to chance, I prepared thoroughly for my audition. I read a WikiHow article entitled, “How to Sing,” in addition to watching several Khan Academy videos on the art of vocal instrumentation. I shadowboxed in my underwear, though I at one point stubbed my toe so hard that I thought it would prevent me from ever pirouetting (I’ve never actually done this, but it seems a beautiful thing I would hate to miss out on). I also paced around my room and mumbled the Gettysburg Address to myself over and over again. When it came time, I tied a sweat-absorbing bandana across my forehead, strapped on a diaper, and was ready for anything the Jizzlewankers could squirt at me.
Despite all of this painstaking preparation, my audition was not ideal. Based on my speaking voice, the Jizzlewankers had predetermined I was a mezzosoprano, though they had failed to inform me of this, so all my hours singing Johnny Cash’s “Cocaine Blues” in front of the mirror were for naught. I improvised, of course, instead choosing on the spot Adele’s “Someone Like You.” I had never actually sung it before, but I was confident my inherent, God-given abilities would pull me through. I stood there, waiting for the music to begin, but it never did. I asked, my voice trembling, “Where’s that looping, hypnotic piano line my mom loves so much?” They didn’t answer, so I just started belting out all those dolorous lyrics of lachrymose heartache, my brow wrinkling with the high notes, my diaphragm convulsing in vibrato. When I finished, everyone was speechless, their mouths so wide open several were rushed to Yale Health to be treated for lockjaw.
I strode therefrom confident my mojo had returned. I was a virile, barrel-chested man who sang like a siren. But the next day something happened I had never even for a second considered was a possibility — they didn’t call me back. I hadn’t been called back countless times before, though in a slightly different context, but this one hurt because I had put a helluva lot of work into being a musician the day before. My disinvitation from callbacks was so emotionally jarring that I pulled the fire alarm and rushed from my dorm into the courtyard, my head in my hands, weeping enough tears to tame any blaze. However, I was soon joined there by all of Davenport and several disgruntled firefighters. Knowing the sting of rejection in the cold of the night, I could at last sympathize with Hillary Clinton LAW ’73.
But in that moment I realized that, just as Hillary didn’t need the American people to confirm she was not very good at smiling, so too did I not need some cockapella group to confirm my own sense of self-worth. I don’t have to be part of a singing fraternity to feel like a man; I just have to grow copious amounts of chest hair (which I reveal to unprepared pedestrians by unfastening the top three buttons of my shirt) and conspicuously scratch my genitals in public. Equipped with this revelation, dear reader, there’s nothing stopping me now.
Contact Joshua Baize at firstname.lastname@example.org .