Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Sing Your Face Gift

Last night, M took me to the opera as a quasi-Valentine's present. I say "quasi" because it was February 10. And a Wednesday. And we didn't do a whole date-night sort of dinner and drinks and assorted going-outness with it. But it was romantic and fancy and wonderful AND my first time at the opera. When I was little, my mom used to listen to operas in the kitchen on Sunday morning NPR programs. Which, accompanied with doing Saturday housecleaning to musical theater records, comprised my musical childhood weekends. We would sing and clean and sing and cook and somewhere along the line I got the idea that I would be a singer.

I'm not sure I ever really gave this up in my head even after giving up in real life. Not so much giving up as "getting distracted by jobs that pay me money." Anyway, because I am a tiny bit idealistic about my potential for greatness, otherwise called having an active imagination, going to the theater or the opera is less about wishing I had the talent of the performers and more about wishing I were actually living the lives of the characters. This is why I do not like shows like "The Office," because there is no one in that show that I would like to be. I like to watch things that inspire me to pretend to live in that world for however long that world exists.

So for my operatic first time, M took me to see The Elixir of Love, where two men are fighting for the attentions of a pretty girl in the countryside of Italy. Bingo! It even has a happy ending. (The regular kind. Don't be gross.) The set was gorgeous, the costumes were divine and the singers were awesome. They sang their faces.

You read that right. My brother assures me this is a phrase. They did not sing their faces off, as I want to call it. As a musical theater major, my brother should know, but I am inclined more to make fun of him for it than to adopt it. Yet, here I am using it. Because it is hilarious and way more apt than anything I can come up with; options that include "sing your throat hoarse," or "sing your phlegm up," or "sing like your ass is on fire."

Sing your face is way better. And post-opera I have been singing my face all day. Only I can't remember any of the words. So really I have been babbling my face. Or warbling. Or generally appearing as a crazy person.

Anyway, all of the singing and a little of the crazy reminded me of musical presents. (And now I am picturing a gift box swaying and dancing to the sound of its own song, much like the singing bush in The Three Amigos...what kind of jobs do they hire you for when you have these particular imaginative talents?) When I was about eight years old, one of my parents' best friends turned 30. As a really funny and mean gift, my parents decided to send them a package of things helpful for turning old. (Keep in mind that my parents were a few years older than this dear friend AND that now turning 30 sounds totally normal. As in next year, I will turn 30.)

This gift contained a very useful package of Depends. And some reading glasses. I believe there was also denture paste, prunes and aspirin. Rounding out the assortment of stuff-old-people-like was a an audio tape we all collaborated to make. My mom and dad did most of the work, but I helped narrate this musical welcome into old age. I vaguely remember a story line about what happens when you turn 30, with my parents playing the parts of people you encounter as an ancient thirty-something. What I do remember is singing various songs, most notably Happy Birthday.

We may not have been opera singers, or even Italian peasants pining over love. But we sure sang our faces.

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