Singing (and sighing) out loud!
by Susie Duncan Sexton
"She is a successful woman...who has a zest for life and a feeling of kinship with all living things..." ~ from Lou Porterfield's 1956 Scrapbook
Uh-huh! To say the least, I wonder why I ever entertained the idea to write out loud...to record my innermost thoughts, to devise plots and characters, to reveal truths, to attempt hilarity, and etcetera and so forth. My mind has become a jumble of impulses and seemingly innovative ideas, and our house reels and writhes presently totally upside down and inside out as a result of this interfering disruption of what was once stable, fabulous routine! To add insult to injury...or injury to insult...our precious dogs died after only a few months of cooperatively swallowing monthly Trifexis tablets foisted upon their lives. Their decade's long dependable Sentinel meds crashed and burned, halted by the FDA or the pharmaceutical, competitive, corporate Mafia. No choice save for the decidedly more expensive newer seemingly untested drug? No medicine available for our still broken hearts. Inconsequential to most folks...devastating to us. Waiting for the Class Action suit.
("I came so far for beauty...I left so much behind...my patience and my family...my masterpiece unsigned..." ~ lyrics of Leonard Cohen...a favorite quote of my mother's best friend Lou Porterfield, a retired telephone company executive transplanted from Chicago to Albion, Indiana, and who adored pigs and piglets as dearly as I do to this day. Lovingly referred to as "Lucie", Mrs. Porterfield influenced me tremendously in the years she "dropped by" our house in town, ten miles down the road from her hobbyist farm.)
One ray of light I can acknowledge, during that sad time, positively glowed, emanating from Michigan kindergarten teacher Beth Kennedy, she of the strawberry blonde hair coupled with her plucky, bubbly, empathetic personality!
Recently, ever polite and never intrusive, Beth shared a video post via my inbox, with my son Roy and me. Youthful, exuberant Julie Andrews twirled about like an animated coloraturing scarecrow (whose hills were ALIVE as well?)...her familiar Dutch bob and her starched apron identifying THE SOUND OF MUSIC which co-star Christopher Plummer scathingly referred to as THE SOUND OF MUCOUS--and the gist of the article was this: bursting into show tunes, around the house or office all day long, can ward off Alzheimer's, dementia, and senility. Well, I am pretty safe then...Roy who is far less obnoxious with that vocal skill needs to perform unashamedly as frequently as I not only currently do and but always have. I possess the exact photographic musical memory as performer/lyricist Adolph Green. I recall melodies and words with no hesitation (none!); my repertoire is monumental, massive and beyond extensive.
Just last week, I warbled" "Oh, why is it always Miss Marmelstein, Miss Marmelstein, Miss Marmelstein? Other girls get called by their first names right away..." Barbra Streisand stunningly emerged as an overnight sensation portraying a dewy-eyed yet nebbish-y secretary, whom nobody flirted with, in I CAN GET IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE in 1962, met her first husband Elliot Gould who co-starred (they parented Jason who sings as gloriously as Roy!),...and diva "Babs" remains a legend to this day. I am three years younger with considerably kinkier hair but did spoRADICALLY don a middy-collared Streisand inspired wool dress four winters in a row while attending Ball State University. I idolized that FUNNY GIRL...still do!
Our son keeps us supplied in tickets to devour performances in Ft. Wayne and Indianapolis...within our comfort zone...we drive and drive and listen and watch and meet and greet and stand in hallway lines, CDs in hand to be autographed, while engaging in gushing praise to seated chanteuses, Jersey type Boys, former movie stars, and assorted celebrities perhaps on the skids. Our photo albums bulge with folks flashing whitened teeth and who gleaned and Affected from experience how to smile for the cameras as we lean naively and adoringly in, our faces looking all discombobulated and star-struck and flop-sweaty, peasant smiles revealing coffee stains from the turn of the century. We post our digitally non-photogenic history nevertheless. As I type, I glance at Diana Krall emblazoned across my t-shirt purchased in July at the Ft. Wayne Embassy Theater where we sat separated by only one row of seats from the piano prodigy/jazz musician and wife of Elvis Costello and friend of Beatle Paul McCartney and Elton John! Thanks as always, Roy! Who says we cannot hobnob with movers and shakers...the best of them?
Cannot abide the often-used trendy phrase "I am blessed"... because I am not that! However, this summer we impressively withstood two trips within one week back and forth to Indy, not my favorite destination...too many legislators down there who remain clueless and are mucking up the Hoosier state beyond redemption...but we did enjoy both perky Linda Lavin ("Alice") and a couple of evenings later exquisite Audra McDonald. The latter commiserates with my candid appraisal of a bigoted Indianapolis. Superior performances from each of those talented ladies! When I returned all crippled from the road trips,...neither am I a willing automobile passenger, nor do I ever wish to fly... I scoured Facebook searching for some author I understand is a Pi Phi sister hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, the native state of my daddy. (Charleston's unfortunately tragic newsworthiness revived concerns regarding the sanctity of Confederate flags and moved our nation perilously close toward a renewed Civil War. Those relics of a heinously divisive era unquestionably belong inside musty trunks. Throw away the keys, too!)
At any rate, I googled Josephine Humphreys, a writer my age...well, one year older...who slightly resembles me and is really famous and who truly loves dogs. I am certain of this, because I obtained a paperback book called LITERARY DOGS AND THEIR SOUTH CAROLINA WRITERS -- her picture and her poodle's (Archie!) grace the cover. I read her entry. I identified completely. Where we differ? I did not attend a fancy, exclusive girls' school nor did I ever receive a Guggenheim fellowship nor did I matriculate at Yale nor did one of my books transform into a memorable script for a movie starring Albert Finney and Jill Clayburgh (RICH IN LOVE), when I was only around 30!. There's where we differ. And time is running out. I do know that we write similarly and that she authored four books to my two...and I do know that Finney won my heart in the cinematic version of her novel when, his wife having left him, he assuages his agony by purchasing way too many books from a sniffily pretentious bookstore and mutters, "I would have bought more but I was afraid the clerk would have thought I was crazy... pshaw! I am sure as Hell gonna return to buy the shop out tomorrow!" Been there! Done that! (Oh, perhaps some film studio can purchase the rights to one of my columns and produce an epic film based on my musings? Still waiting...sigh...)
"You must plan to be spontaneous." ~ David Hockney Well, David, THAT I have done for my entire life as evidenced by my insistently breaking into sundry and prolific song lyrics at the drop of a hat...as I shall do momentarily. I am at an age where the sands have sifted almost entirely through the tippy top of the hour glass unto the very bottom...no turning the damned thing over again. When I was young, I had very few friends; now that I have reached the twilight of my existence, I can boast even less for most of them are dead. And as far as male friends, the stats have been and are even more dismal, much much much lower. The dance card empty! As Miss Marmelstein, twirling in her scooting office chair (why do females always twirl in musicals?), so poignantly lamented while crossing a Broadway stage in the early 60s (Elizabeth Feist, my mom's Crooked Lake Women's Golf League partner, bought me the soundtrack to the musical FUNNY GIRL at the Garden Gift Shop on Van Buren Street for my high school graduation present. I played the vinyl LP grooves completely off it):
Why is it always Miss Marmelstein?
Miss Marmelstein? Miss Marmelstein?
Other girls get called by their nick names right away...
Slightly naughty or risqué --
Do you know what I mean?
Nobody calls me,"Koo-chee-koo",
Or "Boobala", or "Passion pie"!
Even, "Hey there, babe" thought not respectable, ain't so objectable.
It's kind of crummy but chummy.
Of course if I got married, that would do it,
So, where's the lucky guy?
Till then it still is Miss Marmelstein, Miss Marmelstein --
Every day I get more and more fussed.
Miss Marmelstein, Miss Marmelstein,
Miss Marmelstein, Miss Marmelstein, Miss Marmelstein
Oh, I could bust!
Finally, although seldom reimbursed with adoration, loyalty, unconditional love, and understanding, when anyone of us yearns to be appreciated for one fleeting second, to receive reinforcement that "Somebody Somewhere" (a song title from the score of MOST HAPPY FELLA) seems glad we got born? Well, we tend to oink or moo or neigh or bark or whinny or bleat or quack or whistle or chirp or coo or meow or purr or trill or trumpet...or SING OUT LOUD, which is tantamount to the title of wonderful Anna Quindlen's best-selling 1988 book entitled LIVING OUT LOUD. Hey, I just sang "Miss Marmelstein" to myself...out loud...here in the dark...so that I could recall the words to type out loud! I sing out loud a lot...makes me feel alive and well and present in this crazy and confusing but fascinating world. My recommendation? Sing out loud! Live out Loud! All species matter! Let's become a universal chorus...
Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter and its follow-up Misunderstood Gargoyles and Overrated Angels - print and ebook versions of both are available on Amazon (click the title). The books are also carried by these fine retailers: Ann Arbor's Bookbound and Common Language; Columbia City's North Side Grille and Whitley County Historical Museum; and Fort Wayne's The Bookmark. And you can download from iTunes. Meet other like-minded souls at my facebook fan page. Visit my author website at www.susieduncansexton.com. Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can't ... Or Won't