I got the music in me
December 1, 2011
By Pat Detmer
When I was 5 years old, I took tap-dancing lessons, and at 12 I sang Gregorian chants in the Catholic church choir. At 14, I taught myself how to play guitar, and at 17 I used that guitar with my singing group — The She Bops — when we were on stage in high school or on TV trying to win the Davenport, Iowa, version of Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour.
I once called in sick and went to the Seattle Center, location of a national barbershop quartet conference, just in the hopes that some spontaneous singing might break out. My mother and two sisters and I could produce some pretty decent four-part harmony ourselves, and my step-daughter (brave child) has asked the Detmer sisters and Newcastle niece to sing “Going to the Chapel” at her wedding in April.
The above history explains why you might spot me striding along the sidewalk singing to my iPod, or abruptly striking a dramatic pose a la John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever.” I’ll do that in store aisles as well if the piped-in music moves me. Sometimes I simply cannot help myself.
This brings me to a couple of weeks ago. I was walking to a hair appointment, happy to be able to hit the streets without wearing a rain slicker in November. It’s not a tough walk — a couple of miles, tops, from Olympus to the 44th Street exit — but it does go up and down some pretty substantial hills. I was lost in the effort and the moment, listening to my iPod, which is filled with singles that I love but was too cheap to buy in an album or a CD.
Linda Ronstadt was singing “When Will I Be Loved” as I hurried across the parking lot to the hair salon. As I was nearing the door, I knew that Linda’s plaintive final line: “Tell me wheeennn will Ahh be-e-e <pause> looovvved!” was coming up. Through the salon window I could see Malinda, my hairdresser, leaning against the front desk. The timing of my entrance was perfect, so I threw open the door, crossed the threshold and sang the above line at the top of my lungs.
I’m self-employed, and usually get my hair cut at nonpeak times like … oh …9:30 on Wednesday, or 2 on Tuesday afternoon, so I figured that belting out Linda Ronstadt with no preface was going to be heard by Malinda and a few others. But this was Saturday at 11 a.m. Imagine my surprise when I realized that not only was every station filled, but people were waiting as well.
Malinda gave me a new nickname: The One-Person Flash Mob.
I think I’ll keep it. It makes for a handy excuse.
You can reach Pat Detmer and see a picture of her singing at a Family Services fundraiser at patdetmer.com.