Wednesday, February 3, 2010

That Song

When you think of your mother, what is the first song you think of? Tell us why.

This was the writing prompt this morning, and it opened a floodgate of memories:

First, you have to know that we affectionately referred to our mother as "Bette Elvis" because of her flaming flamboyant personality. She had long legs, big tits, looks to die for, and loved the spotlight. There wasn't a room my Mom couldn't play.

The problem was that she also had an inflated opinion of her vocal qualities, especially after a few martinis, and with the liquid courage coursing through her like antifreeze, she was likely to commandeer the stage, the band, and the audience at the Officers' Club or country club, new year's eve parties, or birthdays. And whenever my sister and I would hear her voice on the mic come floating above the heads of the revelers, our hair literally stood on end. Oh, to this day I can still feel the embarrassment.

"Okay, darlings," she'd begin in her best gin-soaked Marilyn Monroe wannabe voice, a little slurred around the edges, "I'm going to sing Frankie and Johnnie." (I can feel the shivers up my spine even now - like bamboo slivers being pounded into the quick of my fingernails.)

And off she would go, stumbling a little as she oozed about the stage like a cat in heat, doing a rendition of the old "shot my man because he done me wrong" blues epic, in a rendition that, by comparison, made Marilyn's "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" look like a preschool presentation.

But, God love her, even though she embarrassed the living hell out of us, there was something endearing about a woman who had the chutzpah to get up and perform like that. The people went wild for her, which only encouraged future performances.

Lynda and I would shuffle nervously in the back of the room, happy for the anonymous darkness, hiding our embarrassment by appearing unconcerned that it was our Mom up there.

But, you know, now that I'm older, I would have been wildly applauding that beautiful, crazy woman with the rest of the crowd. She was something else.

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