Wherein I sing with a sock puppet and in front of Ed McMahon

by Brian

Christine and I go way back to the beginning of The Cheek of God. Her own blog, Flutter, was one of the first I ever read, and with her entry for the “Just A Little Crazy” series, she continues to inspire me . Be sure to visit the new Crazy! page to read previous entries in this series . . .

I can sing.

No, really I can.

The problem is, while I can sing, and well, I get immensely embarrassed when someone asks me to. About a year ago, someone asked me to sing on my blog. I did, but I was so shy for someone to see the absolutely mental faces I imagine that I make when I sing, that I made a sock puppet to sing for me. Out of a cashmere sock. And dreadlocks.


So, there is a voice, hidden beneath a cashmere sock, just dying to be heard. When I was 19 I decided it was time for the world to hear it. I got a ginormous hair up my arse to audition for Star Search. Star. Search.

Ed McMahon.

Cheesy stage lights.

Copious amounts of make-up.

Bad, bad BAD costuming and enough pre-teen squeaky Whitney Houston wannabes to choke a moderately sized horse. Maybe even a big horse, although I haven’t done the calculations as to how big of a tween star it would take to bung up a Clydesdale. Not that you’d need to worry about a tween star being born purely Star Search.

For which I made my friend Jenny drive me to L.A., singing Madonna no fewer than 7034 times. She was a trooper, but to my credit I was on FIRE. Seriously? A 19-year-old white girl, wearing denim shorts, a button down denim shirt (of precisely matched washes) more hairspray than a southern girl’s wedding, and the reddest lipstick allowable by law, singing Madonna, with an entire verse en espanol? SO cross cultural. So fabulous.

[/end sarcasm]

We walked in to the auditorium where auditions were being held and without the benefit of my name or intent, I was given a number to wear when I reached the stage. I sat, watching a group of 6 girls, 3 guys, 2 dogs and a small Volvo do a rousing juggling routine, during which one of the dogs decided to crap onstage.

I shit you not (insert rimshot here).

Said shit was not yet removed, three excruciating acts later, when my number was called. I handed over my background music and took my very denim self up and positioned myself behind the mic. Then, I looked up. Ed McMahon (God rest his soul) was at the judge’s table, drinking coffee and picking his nose (so totally not speaking ill of the dead! It happened!). Literally. With his pinky. I took this to mean he was bored and I better hurry the hell up.

I waited for the music to start and opened my mouth, fully expected a belch, a crack or an “um” to betray my nerves. But, none of that happened. My voice, strong and true and beautiful came spilling out of me. Perfect in pitch and intensity, I rocked it. Until I reached one line.

I should have sang, “Te dijo, te amo”. Which means, “He told me, I love you”. What I sang was “Te dijo, me amo”, which means “He told me, I love me.”

Every Spanish-speaking person in the audience burst into applause and laughter.

Mortification grabbed me by my fallopian and yanked me off the stage, down the hallway and out to Jenny’s car. I didn’t wait to give them my name, I didn’t wait to get my tape of background music. I didn’t wait to get judge’s comments. I just hauled ass. I was at once thrilled with my nerve and mortified with my gaff.

Jenny and I drove home, me barely containing tears and her afraid to tell me that the judges thought I was great and had asked who I was. But it didn’t matter.

For three minutes, I moved. For three minutes, I shook. For three minutes, I let a room full of people see me . . . and I was a Spanish-challenged rock star. For three minutes, I dropped my chains and let the world hear my voice.

I’ve been dying to get back there ever since.