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Kitchen Sink

A Singular Sensation

September 1st, 2008

In my other life, I was a Broadway star. And I’m pretty sure I loved it. Maybe I met my end when an overzealous Charleston kick took me off stage into the orchestra pit. Or perhaps an ill-mounted light fell on my head. Either way, I didn’t get off that stage willingly. In fact, I bet I was just like Nora Desmond. Aging, in a world of my own, and proudly wearing curtains to the death. Ah, what a life.


In an unfortunate twist of karma, I cannot sing in this life. But that little detail does not stop me from doing it anyway. AND subjecting the public to it. My first memory of singing without regard for humiliation is from the tender age of 7. As I walked home from Queen of the Rosary elementary school, I sang “The Kingdom of Glory” at the top of my lungs all the way into the arms of my proud Catholic mama. I 100% recall the opening lines: “The kingdom of glory comes, the nation rejoices, open the gates before him, lift up your voices!” That, and Immaculate Mary counted as my favorite songs to sing aloud. My mom used to nudge me in church and proudly look on as I shouted the lyrics during Eucharist. And that’s pretty much where her support for my boundless vocal energy ended.


A year later, I sang everything. E-v-e-r-y-thing. I stood on street corners and sang “Love Will Keep Us Together,” and “I’m on the Top of the World” to passerby; I donned galoshes and an umbrella during rainstorms and ran outside, kicking up puddles as I did some “Singing in the Rain.” I even learned all the words to “I Think I’ll go Outside for A Walk Now,” (the summer sun’s calling my name! I hear it now! I just can’t stay inside all day…”) and sang it every chance I got. I performed the entire Sound of Music LP, and also Marie Osmond’s Paper Roses.


Don’t even get me started on the Carpenters. Or Barry Manilow.


As time progressed, my mom wanted to solder my mouth shut. Turns out it was all her fault. Because I remember asking her how I could become a singer, and she told me that singers sing all the time. Sounded good. DONE.


In grade school, I joined chorus at a time when the group accepted anyone and everyone. I was an alto and that’s just because they didn’t know what else to do with me. But what I lacked in any real talent, I made up for in gusto. I loved every single stinking minute of chorus, and I really considered it a waste of fervent singing that I couldn’t carry a tune.


And believe me, I couldn’t. At that point, I harbored no illusions about my dearth of singing talent, but as long as people allowed me to sully their choral orchestrations, I would continue. I even made the lead in my eight grade musical (with about 5 other people and all the numbers were sung by the group…SMART, eighth grade musical lead picker outters. Well played)


I had one duet — a little something called “I Am 16 Going on 17,” which I’d trained my whole life for. Every day, I’d call my partner and best friend, Theresa Reiland, to practice our big break on the phone. And we nailed it! At least that’s what my overblown memories tell me.


Then I hit high school. As I found, older, more mature people don’t mind telling you that you suck. Still, I joined chorus, often suffering withering stares from the uptight, but perfectly tuned, musical director. Soon enough, I took the hint and began limiting my singing to Nugget, the family dog, and my little brothers and sister. In mourning, I took my cassette recorder to the junior high parking lot down the street from my home, and roller skated a perfect lament to “Fame.” It was heartbreaking. Outstretched arms and all. I was Lloyd Dobler before there even WAS a Lloyd Dobler.


Now, I perform for my kids. A little two- and four-year old who know every word to “One,” and “Anything You Can Do.” (Well, not really, we’re still in rehearsals.) We also like to do jazz hands and high kicks together. And by “we,” I of course mean “me.”


So although my own kids obviously have inherited my tone deafness, I do like to think they’ve also absorbed my enthusiasm for doing stuff they’re no good at (like grammar). Because where’s the fun in perfection? Best to not ask me. I wouldn’t know. But at least I’ve got hi—iiigh hopes, and sometimes? That’s more fun.


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On September 1st, 2008, deborah said:

That was just beautiful. You see, you were supposed to have girls, so that you can do all those things with them. They will always love you for it.

And let me tell you, from someone whose mother is always characterized as a “character” by everyone who meets her, she is FAR more interesting than your average mother, or grandmother for that matter. She is my 12 year old son’s hero! And I bet you will be your daughters’ hero too.

On September 1st, 2008, Erin said:

Coming from someone who can’t sing either, I’ve always admired those who don’t care whether or not they can do something perfectly. They do it, that’s the important thing, and they have FUN doing it. That’s the important part. I’ve started becoming much more silly in public, now that I have a daughter, and I think it’s made me a better person. Keep on singin’, sister.

On September 1st, 2008, Vered said:

Well, I envy you. I was born a perfectionist and let me tell you, there’s NO FUN IN THAT. I never allow myself to do anything unless I can do it really well. People like me are uptight and boring. You are fabulous. KEEP SINGING!

On September 1st, 2008, vodkamom said:

The GREATEST thing about teaching kindergarten, is that I can sing to my heart’s content! They don’t even care that I SUCK. They still love me. (Even if my family won’t tolerate my singing!!!)

p.s. Who doesn’t love the Carpenters?????

On September 1st, 2008, Renee aka MekhisMom said:

What a great post. I love the idea of doing something with gusto and enthusiasm even if you are not the best at it.

On September 1st, 2008, mami Jen said:

I’ve been told by many times by friends and choral directors that I can sing and by my family to be QUIET. I’ve been getting these mixed signals all my life. I even went with my High School choir to a mock audition held by one of the colleges and recieved a higher score then the best voices in the class. It was all due to their nerves that I got scored higher. If they hadn’t been so nervous I’m sure they would have topped me. Now my son from time to time asks me to sing a song and just as quickly tells me to stop. Mixes signals all over the place.

On September 1st, 2008, MommyTime said:

“In mourning, I took my cassette recorder out to the junior high parking lot down the street from my home, and roller skated a perfect lament to “Fame.””

This is one of the funniest lines I’ve ever read! I wish I could sing. I do it all the time, and I honestly can say that having kids has made me a better singer because I do it so constantly. But I’m still abysmal. And self-conscious (except around very young kids). Mine are the same ages as yours. Our favorite tv station is the radio one that plays “party favorites” (stuff like “Brick House” and “I Will Survive”) that we can dance to while I sing loudly.

On September 1st, 2008, Jenn @ Juggling Life said:

You and me? Same. If I could change one thing about myself it would be to have the ability to sing. My anthem? “Sing” from A Chorus Line. It’s the only song I can actually sing as the role was intended!

On September 1st, 2008, foradifferentkindofgirl said:

I so cannot sing, either. I would sign up for chorus in high school, every year, and then plop myself in the back row with the altos and try to match the tone of the girl closest to me. I never could, so I’d most often mouth the words. This never stopped me from staging elaborate productions of both ‘Grease’ and ‘Grease 2′ in my patio while growing up, naturally taking the lead roles! I now sing so often around the house, the boys simply accept it, lament it, and move on. They silently curse (and it has to be silent, for cursing aloud would not be heard over my singing!), the fact that I seem to know the words to every song, ever! I say sing, sing a song. Sing out loud. Sing out strong!

On September 2nd, 2008, Midlife Mama said:

You need American Idol for Wii!! Karaoke for the home! LOL

On September 2nd, 2008, Da Goddess said:

Like I mentioned in one of my posts somewhere, I wanted to be a major star, especially in music. I thought for sure it would happen. I mean, I believed with all my heart, despite lacking any talent, that it could and would happen. I call it the Brady Bunch Effect. Hey, if they could record a song with Peter’s voice cracking, I could do the same. Who knew there weren’t any kindly music producers who’d want to help me achieve my superstar dreams?

Even though I know this lack of talent followed me into adulthood, I still dream. And I still sing. Just not usually with anyone within listening distance. Or sometimes I torture my son. For fun, y’know.

Gotta sing, gotta dance!

On September 2nd, 2008, KD @ A Bit Squirrelly said:

I think Muirne may be tone-deaf. THat being said she sings her little heart out and to me it is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard!

On September 2nd, 2008, ilinap said:

I too am tone deaf. My own children tell me to stop singing, which I ignore. I love me some Barry Manilow (Mandy!) and Neil Diamond. We have “Dance Party USA” in my house where we all sing, dance, and play instruments. The music is so loud that my kids can’t hear me.

Oh, and when I was a little girl, I sang Love Will Keep Us Together to myself whenever I had a nightmare. Now that I think about it, it must have been my subconscience singing since it’s was also around the time my parents were divorcing. Ah!

On September 2nd, 2008, Green Girl said:

Oh my goodness! I was a back up singer for a girl band in the 50’s! I can’t carry a tune either, but I’m all passion. I envy those who can, though.

On September 2nd, 2008, Chris said:

Ya see, this is why I love karaoke…You don’t have to be good to have a good time. In fact sucking a little bit is a pre-requisite especially when you have had too much to drink…

On September 2nd, 2008, Cocktail Maven said:

Hilarious. I so identify with this. I am constantly singing around the house and in the car, particularly show tunes. I can’t tell you how many times my poor dog has had to suffer in the back seat while I belt out “As Long as He Needs Me” from Oliver!, “The Night they Invented Champage” from Gigi, or (more recently)”Defying Gravity” from Wicked. I favor the huge show-stopping numbers for which I have neither the range nor the lung capacity. But “all you really need is heart”. N’est-ce pas? Keep up the good work, and maybe we’ll have to do a karaoke night some night. Duet, my dear?

On September 2nd, 2008, Da Goddess said:

I wanna do a karaoke night! I’ve been to several and have sworn I’d never get up and sing, but with this group? I totally would.

On September 2nd, 2008, Steph said:

The Carpenters. Wise mofos. “Sing. Sing a song…don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing. Sing a song.”

Words to live by.

On September 3rd, 2008, matteroffactmommy said:

deb, my darling. we are so polar opposite, it’s not even funny. but it’s why i love you so… and this is incredibly well-written and i enjoyed reading every word. :)

On September 3rd, 2008, Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said:

I have Wii American Idol. Come over. Right now.

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