Big M Takes the Mic

My life is a musical. Most days in my home you will find music setting the tone for our day. One of our devices will be running Tune in Radio playing usually classical, but every other genre often shows up because I like to expose my children to different cultures and music is a great way to introduce them.

When I was 3-4 years old, after my siblings had gone to school and the house was quiet except for the clinking and splashing of dishes being washed in the kitchen, I would ask my mom for permission to turn on the radio. If my dad was not home, she would often agree.

“Can I choose the station?” The excitement at the very idea bubbling through my soul in vibrant, iridescent, rainbows, making me wiggle, and giggle at the same time. This excitement was quickly bridled by her silence. It seemed to take forever to get an answer while my soul whined like dog to get out of its cage and my eyes begged silently. The longer it took to answer, the more likely it seemed to be no. As an adult, I recognize she was likely weighing the pros and cons of allowing me that freedom. I recognize I had the tendency to take things a little too far as a child, I was very, very, curious, I wanted to know what was inside everything and everything was a grand event in my imagination.

“Yes!” Was all I heard while echoes of “not too loud,” (how is that possible?) “and don’t touch the record player” (cuz I was into scratching long before rap) “and don’t get on top”…(there was a good reason for that) clawed at my heels as I went skipping into the living room, to make preparations for my entertainment.

First: Curtains. Reaching both hands above my head I would pull the cord hidden behind the edge of the fancy blue damask splitting the deep, wavy, expanse with the cheery applause of sunlight spilling golden across the floor, warming every corner of the room and sending dust particles dancing through the air like sparkly confetti. And with that, the stage was set in my personal, grand auditorium in which I was both performer and crowd.

I would then push the foot stool over to the console television/stereo/record player and climb on the stool, so I could reach into the top of that enormous piece of furniture that smelled like lemony polish. Now I could easily slide open the glossy wooden panel that hid the business part of the monolith. It was gold and glittery inside with multiple switches, lights, and knobs of which I was only allowed to touch two. The first knob gave a satisfying click when you turned it as the light flashed on behind the tuner’s glass which was covered in those mystical emblems I was learning about and the whole, giant contraption started to hum with anticipation of our listening experience.

As nice as the first knob was, the second one was better. It was smooth turning and the slightest nudge sent the dial pin soaring behind the glass while the speakers spit a cacophony of previews of today’s programming. I took it for a trial run up and down its track. I was fascinated that I could spin this knob in a circle and the orange stick moved in a straight line. I have no idea why that was so mind-boggling, but I do know that is why I climbed on top of the television section… I wanted to get a closer look. Unfortunately, pressing my face against the glass peering sideways to the edge of the inky blackness, into the cracks where the light seeped through revealed nothing… Except that the blackness behind tuner dial had a paper-like texture and was definitely solid ruling out my hypothesis that it was actually the dark void of outer space behind that tiny window. It gathered that music from somewhere, after all. Actually, I was quite relieved to discover this because I was rather fearful thinking that thin glass was the only thing protecting me from the vast universe and the adults were sure I was going to break it. I went back to finding my station.

There was a particular station that had a regular Polka program. I found it by accident one day and it sent me dancing wildly around the room which I enjoyed immensely so remembered what number it was near and I always checked that area on the dial first. Polka no longer has that effect on me. If that program wasn’t playing, anything was game. Alone in my private theater, free from taunting siblings, I rocked out to the Beatles, I did the cha-cha, and choreographed ballets in which my stuffed animal friends graciously filled supporting roles. Eventually, my mom would wander in to take over as dj and we would end up listening to some sappy country music that was too slow to dance to and made my soul ache with those sad, lonely, songs of loss that I didn’t know the lyrics to but wanted to sing along anyway.

I also remember making up songs as a child. One in particular sticks in my mind about the “Hot Rod Teacher” which I sang at the top of my lungs sporting snow goggles and a scarf around my neck as I rode laps around our basement on my tricycle. I had obviously watched something with old race car drivers on television. It probably starred Jerry Lewis who I had every intention of marrying when I grew up. I have no idea where the teacher part came in, although that could have been Jerry Lewis as well.

We sing a lot here in our princess house since there are no boys around to tease us. Everybody has their own favorites, and when we sing together, it is often a medley of these songs. I love teaching the girls new songs. I love it how they fall silent when I first sing them a song, listening carefully to the story behind it. If they like it, they ask for it again and soon join in the parts they recognize. Within the week I hear them crooning it to themselves often mixed in with lyrics and tunes they have come up with on their own or channeled from some other entity entirely. I love to hear them singing because it means they are in touch with their souls and are finding a way to express themselves creatively, beautifully.

The last week we have all succumbed to the mucus madness. The trampoline tuned into a giant lounge to watch movies in, and we all spent far more time whining about our fevers and dripping faces while we lay around indulging in Netflix and sleep than spending the quality time together that the girls are accustomed to. It had my 3-year-old feeling the blues the other day and she put down the book she was browsing next to me in bed as I fiddled with my Blog on the iPad and began to sing. Several verses into her improv performance, I couldn’t resist recording. Readers, brace your heart for the sad, sad, conclusion of the Ballad of Bobby Pin and her ill-fated sisters.