Life is full of irony. Like the one time you get to the airport early and your flight is cancelled. Or when you spend hours preparing a gourmet meal only to find your guests are in the midst of a juice cleanse. Or when you cut your hair and sell it to buy your husband a fob for his pocket watch only to find that he has sold his watch to buy you combs for your hair. (Okay, that last one was O. Henry, but if you’re looking for an example of irony, he’s the master.)
The irony of my life? I love to sing; unfortunately, it’s not pretty.
Yes, I’m that teenage girl singing into her hairbrush in the mirror (am I the only one who sees The Shirelles behind me?). Yes, I’m belting it out while in the shower. And yes, I’ve been known to sing the same song non-stop while vacuuming (when it comes to my version of “I Will Always Love You,” go with the sound of the vacuum — trust me). It’s not that I can’t hear the notes in my head. I hear the melody, feel the harmony, and can pick out any song on the piano with no problem. It’s just that my vocal cords can’t seem to differentiate between in tune and in trouble.
Let’s take the Motown classic “Reach Out I’ll Be There” by the Four Tops: “I’ll be there with a love that will shelter you / I’ll be there with a love that will see you through …” It seems that for whatever reason, there’s just one note that gives me some trouble. Okay, a lot of trouble. It’s the “there.” Mine is anywhere but.
It’s way, way flat. Or it starts in one place and wavers uncertainly until it lands somewhere in the not-too-near vicinity of the right place (kind of like landing at LAX when you meant to reach Seattle). Even B., who has a really good voice and tries to be encouraging, just shakes his head sadly and suggests that maybe I pick another song (unless I’m vacuuming, or riding in a convertible on the freeway, or hypothetically attending the 1965 Beatles concert at Shea where no one could hear anything).
But despite being singing-challenged, I forge ahead. I continue to sing my little heart out because, above all, it makes me feel good. And if I wait until I hit every note perfectly, I’ll never get there.
© 2014 Claudia Grossman