Back before I joined the club with the lowest standards for membership ("Just forget to wear your rubbers!"), I used to go out socially once in a while. One night a few years ago, we went out with all of our friends to "Karaoke from Hell." It features a live band that has a repertoire of a couple hundred songs for which you become the lead singer for a song or two. You flip through their selections, write one down, and when you're called to the stage they hand you a ratty sheet of paper with the lyrics. They play loose but fabulously energetic versions of an eclectic mishmash of songs and you're a rock god for three pop-song minutes. It's enormous fun.
I don't sing, as a rule. But all of my friends are actually musicians in one form or another, so each of them got up and sang a selection. Our hulking, rugged friend who's a guitar tech sang an amazing version of "Fever" by Peggy Lee. Our petite slip of an Edwardian lass sang a Cars song. My husband performed a rousing punk rock version of The Who's "My Generation."
But it was our 1920's Sensitive Jewish Intellectual friend who brought down the house. He got up on stage and stood there, grasping the microphone like a drowning man with a lifesaver. He had picked "The Rainbow Connection" and he sang it quietly, quaveringly and perfectly. Something about his personal style which is so gentle, and his funny stage presence, which was serene but completely charismatic, turned a song which could have easily been played off as a cynical ironic goof into a surprisingly breath-taking moment. The boisterous, raucous insanity of the club became hushed when he was on stage. Total hipsters and cranks turned and watched. Everyone was completely smitten with the pathos of it. We were collectively verklempt.
Our sensitive friend moved this fall to New York City. We miss him something fierce. He went to go get himself some education, which I can appreciate, but we wish that he was here to hang out with the bun who could benefit from such a sweet male role model.
I bought a CD for the bun the other day that has entertaining versions of kids songs by a variety of popular artists. Tom Waits, bless his craggy heart, does a version of a lullaby that might only lull old drunks to sleep in New Orleans. Cake does a fine rendition of "Mahna Mahna" that remains stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
The third song on the CD came on as I was dancing with the bun in my arms. I began waltzing with him to the familiar melody line, and then the soft feminine voice of Sarah McCla
[We interrupt this post to give you the bun's first computer stylings: 6NQTNV C N CVFGFV We now return you to the entry already in progress.]
...and then the soft feminine voice of Sarah McLachlan began singing the sappy but utterly charming lyrics to "The Rainbow Connection." I was turning in time, ONE two three ONE two three, back and forth around the living room bathed in golden wintry light, the bun laughing as he threw his head back and gave in to the dizzying joy of spinning around in circles.
Something about the confluence of experiences, the nostalgia about my friend who bailed on us in pursuit of higher education, the schmaltzy but masterful version of a very poignant piece of my history, and the surpassing in this moment of all my expectations about being a mother made me leak like a faucet. Waltzing through the house humming "The Rainbow Connection," the bun bent akimbo, back arched with his hair blowing like Muppet fluff, I was overwhelmed by the simultaneity of the sorrow and joy I was feeling.
My husband walked out as I was concluding the perfect dance. The bun had no idea I was a mess, but my husband certainly did. "Look at your mother," he said. "She's so sweet! She's a complete nut, but she's very, very sweet."
Now I have a Pavlovian response to the song. Every time it comes on I either have to assiduously ignore it or walk out of the room. If I sit still or just look too long at the bun, no matter whether he's climbing the toilet or eating cat food off the floor, I start to blubber like a little girl. Motherhood reduces me with alarming regularity to a bleary-eyed romantic goober.
Have you been half asleep And have you heard voices? I've heard them calling my name Are these the sweet sounds that called The young sailors? I think they're one and the same I've heard it too many times to ignore it There's something that I'm supposed to be Someday we'll find it The Rainbow Connection The lovers, the dreamers and me
I've never heard a melody so sweet.