Umming a Song

In Praise of Cotton Balls

By Steve Carr

Good father that I am, I accompanied my family to Easter church services. My calls to hurry echoed back through head cold-induced swollen sinuses as I hustled the girls to the car. I returned to the bathroom, where I stuffed cotton in my ears.

We arrived early enough to claim the back row. Families trickled in with scrubbed faces and pasted cowlicks. I surveyed the hubbub of familiar greetings from my muted throne.

I felt more than heard the opening song, blissfully deaf to Mrs. Humblebum’s off-key screech, and, through altered perspective, noted the earnest expressions of a congregation.

A youth speaker, Dennis Umm Reader, bobbed to the podium. His red hair, pimpled face wiped clean of dust and dirt, and pink shirt with white clip-on tie summoned a vision of Aunt Edna’s strawberry pie—just the right dab of whip cream, thank you.

The determined youngster pistol-gripped the podium, swayed back and forth, and opened his mouth to begin with some tired yarn about endeavoring to avoid being asked to speak, but then, in failing to do so, forgetting to prepare until the last minute.

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