Every Tuesday night, I eagerly look forward to watching “America’s Got Talent” on TV. I enjoy living vicariously through the contestants on the show…particularly those who have been blessed with beautiful singing voices.
Ever since I was very young, when the only song I knew at the time was “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” I have longed to be a singer. The only problem was whenever I attempted to belt out a tune, my neighbors thought their outdoor cats were being tortured.
I blame my mother for my lack of dulcet tones whenever I sing, because I inherited her voice. She never denied that she probably was the world’s worst singer. In fact, she used to say she could sing an entire song and not hit even one note correctly. And back when she was in grade school and the class had to sing during events such as Christmas pageants, her teachers would tell her to lip-sync and just pretend to be singing.
When I was growing up, my mother often used her singing as a form of punishment.
“Time for bed now,” she would say to me.
“But I’m not tired!” I’d whine. “I don’t want to go to bed!”
“If you don’t go to bed right now, I’ll sing to you,” she’d threaten.
At that point, I would do a running swan-dive into my bed.
I must confess, however, I’ve always been in denial about my own singing ability (or lack thereof) and actually convinced myself I was destined to be the next Streisand. The truth is, if I were facing a firing squad and they told me if I sang for them and pleased them, I’d be granted a stay of execution, the moment I opened my mouth and released the first note, they would shoot me full of holes just to shut me up.
And I’m pretty sure it would be considered self-defense.
Still, I grew up dreaming about becoming a famous singer. When I was sixteen, I even saved up for a guitar, learned how to play a few chords and then formed a three-girl band called The Triple Gears. Whenever we gathered in my basement to rehearse, my parents would receive phone calls from concerned neighbors asking if someone in our house needed help.
Needless to say, The Triple Gears never were asked to entertain anywhere.
I did study ballet for 10 years and discovered I was a fairly talented dancer. I even performed in the local production of Swan Lake. So when a talent show with excellent prizes was holding auditions in town, I announced to my parents that I wanted to go try out for it.
“That’s great!” my mother said, looking pleased. “Have you decided which dance you’re going to do?”
I frowned at her. “Dance? I’m going to sing!”
Her expression clearly told me she thought I was suffering from severe delusions.
Luckily, I wasn’t brave enough to try out for the talent show alone, so I asked my friend, Dee, who happened to be an excellent singer, to come with me. We ended up singing a Beatles song together, and her voice drowned out my flat one, so we actually made it into the talent show. When I came home and excitedly announced the good news to my parents, they honestly thought I was joking.
“Were the judges…elderly?” my mother asked.
“And hearing impaired?” my dad added.
“No! Dee and I honestly sounded great!”
“Dee sang with you?” my mom asked.
“Oh, then that explains it,” my parents said in unison.
Dee and I had fun participating in the talent show, but we didn’t win. We didn’t even place in the top ten. In retrospect, I think if I had just moved my lips and let Dee do all of the singing, we might have had a fighting chance.
Nowadays, the only time I sing is when I’m in the car. I crank up the radio and sing with gusto to my favorite songs.
And when I hear myself, I’m still convinced I could be the next Streisand.
I just wish that when I take my two dogs for a ride with me, they’d stop whining and pawing at their ears when I sing.
It can be very distracting.
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