October Column Winner

Karaoke machine, Video finally convince her

PATTI Marshall, The Countywide & Sun

At one time I could dance, but lack of practice and 30 plus years (and pounds) has created a lumbering graceless image of my former self. Unfortunately, this painful realization was made after my husband videotaped my public terpsichorean attempt, and then privately replayed it for me before I let it go to my head. I don't dance anymore.
You'd think I would have learned my lesson, but no, I'm back out there attempting another guilty pleasure that I really cannot do. The first time someone hinted that I could not sing was in fourth grade chorus. I opened my mouth and all the other kids went off key. The teacher moved me further and farther away from the group. Finally, after placing me in the hall and closing the door, he decided I was still too close. He handed me a hall pass and sent me to the school library on the other side of the building for the rest of the school year. I still sang the songs, but the librarian kept shushing me.
Not one to give up easily, I spent half my life singing in my car, in the shower, at concerts, all places where I couldn't be heard by others. I did sing once in front of my husband right after we were first married, that delicate time when newlyweds are especially vulnerable of each other's words.
"Stop singing," he told me as I mopped the kitchen floor of our first dwelling.
"You don't like the song?" I asked.
"You can't sing." He replied, and then added, "Sorry."
"I like to sing," I explained, dipping the mop into the bucket. "That isn't singing. It's screeching."
"Really?" I smiled and swung the mop. It hit him full in the chest, drenching him from head to knees.
A few years ago I joined the choir at church because I wanted to sing with them at the Christmas Eve service. They were happy to have me. No audition necessary. I sat with the altos, just behind the basses and next to the tenors. After the first few rehearsals, the tenors began leaving an ever-widening gap between me and them. The basses moved forward away from me, but my fellow altos must have taken pity because they didn't move away. They just stuck fingers in their ears nearest me. I reciprocated the pity and from then on, only mouthed the words. Christmas Eve they complimented me on my singing and I never went back. Then again, they never asked me back either.
Recently, I stood in front a crowd of strangers and sang. It was a courageous choice for me, but by the time I chose a song and took the microphone, many others had already sung before me. The reality is that with the advent of karaoke, a plethora of tone-deaf people have marched across a stage in search of just having fun in song.
I didn't need all those earlier people in my life to tell me that I cannot carry a tune. All I needed was a karaoke machine and my husband with a video camera - again. I swear, I will never sing again.