Sunday, May 27, 2007

Call The Number On Your Screen To Vote For Me

Today I drove to Morgan Hill to meet Annette and a couple of her girlfriends at a wine/art festival. I drove separately because I wanted take a drive in the convertible, and afterwards they were going to look at wedding venues for one of her friends. So far, this summer, I'm bridesmaid free so if I can avoid any bridesmaidly like tasks, I will. I stopped off before hitting the 101 to get my car washed. I drove up to a white line and a big red stop sign, kinda feeling like I was at the DMV, when a man who smelled like a pack of Marlboro Reds jumped in the passenger side and started vacuuming. Another kid who looked about twelve offered me car "perfume" for an extra dollar. I took a look at Smokey. That was a no brainer.

I drove a cruise-controlled 70mph, hanging out in the commuter lane with with good pavement. I have this thing I do whenever I drive alone. I arrange playlists, and CDs. I DJ up my trip in concerto with my mood and mileage. Then (usually with the top down and quite shameless) I "sing." It's not really singing, as I am tone deaf. It's more like either talking loudly, mumbling, or passionate screaming. I can imagine it's not pretty, scary even. But trust me, I cannot help myself. I've tried. I've tried to not sing as I go past car windows, or only sing when my convertible top is up. I can't do it. I just don't care enough to stop.

A couple of days ago, I was headed down the 101, singing, or whatever it is that I do, and I actually started to notice that people were slowing down and smiling (laughing?) and giving me the thumbs up. When I exited, another guy in a convertible did a full turnaround and gave one of the saddest pity grins I've ever seen. Even the cranked out homeless dude who talks to EVERYONE scooted past my car a little afraid of the bizarre pitchiness emitting from the Saab. I'm pretty sure he didn't ask me for a dollar because HE actually felt sorry for ME.

I think I officially have a problem, too. I go to great lengths to travel solo as to have time to rock out. Now, I repeat, I cannot carry a tune, not even a little bit. As a teenager, when I babysat, babies used to start crying when I would try to sing a little lullaby. I have my father to blame for this. He has the worst singing voice I've ever heard. Ever. The most embarrassing part was growing up Catholic, at church every Sunday, my Pops thought he had a magnificent voice, so he would sing LOUDER. Can you imagine? People would grab their hats and glasses and clear out right after chomping down the communion wafer just to escape my Dad's finale after Father Buckalew's "Now Go In Peace To Love and Serve The Lord." (And apparently run away from your fellow parishioners for singing as bad as a level ten fart.)

Adam and I were supposed to drive from San Francisco to Indianapolis this summer. My Stanford classes end in a couple of weeks, and my University of Iowa classes start up the first week of July. Last year I did the trek alone, but didn't know if I'd have the energy to do all that driving by myself. Adam thoughtfully offered, and it's a beautiful drive, but I considered a few things. I thought about how many days I'd be in a car with another person, but more importantly the absolute deal-breaker, how many days Adam would be in a car with my singing. Or my suppressing my singing, or some combination of the two. My terrible singing is like a bad tic. I'm pretty sure Adam would leave me at a truck stop 300 miles into the trip if I sang Kelli Clarkson songs over and over and over and well, you get how totally uncool I am?

I do listen to cool music. I just don't like to sing cool music. If Simon Cowell ever heard me, he would tell me that I should move to Berkeley start a karaoke club with William Hung. I actually hate (not too stong a word) karaoke bars. They say you don't like what reminds you of yourself...well, some of those pitchless sentimental freaks must stike a bad chord with me, because I won't even stay for a free drink at a karaoke bar. At least I don't subject others to my tone-deafness, at least not on purpose.

When I was 23, my sister, my mother and I went on an Alaskan Cruise. One night, we thought, "Karaoke sounds fun!" I had never been. I didn't know that PROFESSIONAL singers that perpetrated like innocent lil first time undiscovered Christmas Caroler types. I mean, these people had MOVES. Before we knew what we had gotten ourselves into, we had signed up to sing, "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper. Ms. Lauper hits some very high notes, which isn't something you think about when you sing in the shower, or with your girlfriends. When it was our turn, I kind of blanked out. I sort of forgot how to read. Remi had to keep it going, and when I finally jumped back in, it was so awful, that I overpowered my sister's nice singing voice, and CLEARED THE ROOM. I'm not exaggerating. My mother was the only one left at song's end, sitting there, smiling big. She clapped frantically like fifty or more people did not just exit as though they had lifevests waiting for them so they could safely jump. As if that wasn't bad enough, the DJ (whom I should add could not escape because he was in a corner behind our web of black audio wires) actually turned off our microphones.

So, even as expensive as gas is these days, or as awesome as my car looks, if I ever offer you a ride of any sort of distance, best you heed Nancy Reagan's sage advice, and Just Say No! It's not that I don't value your friendship, it's just that I've come to terms with the simple fact that I can't help myself from committing S.W.D. (Singing While Driving) and as far as addictions go, anyone who tries to stop me will probably be disappointed.


Adam said...

As I recall, from our Chicago road trip, you and I have comparable singing ability. And since I'm pretty much the best singer ever, you can't be as awful as you describe.

jaynel said...

Yeah, right. "Never Gonna Be The Same" by Courtney Love ring a bell? (That was the Indy to Bloomington roadtrip.) Mosquitoes were fighting against 70mph winds to bite me just to try to distract me into shutting up, if I remember.

And you were a big singer, yes...but, there was that one time (from Chicago) I snuck a Coldplay in and you must have fallen asleep, but I sort of worried that my singing had accidentally killed you.