Sing With Me

Last night I went out to celebrate Miss Patterson‘s centennial at a local bar. It was a small, hot, dimly lit bar, but had a nice atmosphere to it. That evening was also the bar’s Karaoke Night. As soon as I heard the plans to hit up this bar for karaoke, I was ready to go innnnnnnn. (FYI: I kinda like to sing). Anyway, there were some great acts, good acts, subpar acts, but mainly “you just don’t give a fugg about our ears, do you?” acts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to procure a recording of Miss Patterson singing to share with the rest of the interwebs. She sang Like A Virgin and was actually pretty decent. I missed her singing Push It though. I’m sure it was a winner. All in all, I had a great time celebrating a good friend’s birthday.

However, my favorite part of the evening was, of course, when I got to get up and sing. Now, I’ve been singing since I was in the 8th grade and singing well since I was a sophomore in college. But instead of singing something by myself, I ended up singing two duets. One was Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. The other was Luther Vandross & Beyonce – The Closer I Get To You. Both are amazing songs performed by legendary artists. Now, I can’t even remember the last time I sang a duet with anyone in public, but it’s a very exhilarating activity to me.

Singing a duet is a pretty intimate experience. When you’re singing a solo, you are on an island. Just you and your instrument. Swaying this way and that way with your voice in exactly the way that you want to when you want to. You own it. Even with a choir or backup singers, a solo is all about the soloist and where he/she chooses to take the song. But with a duet, it’s a….marriage, if you will. It’s not all about you anymore. You don’t call all of the shots. You can’t take all of the spotlight. You have to give some power and control away. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard duets before that sounded more like two solosits who accidentally got booked for the same time slot. I don’t think that’s how it should be done though. You and your partner should act as counterbalances to each other. Feeling out each note and emotion in preparation to give support or take the lead, without ever giving a verbal command. It requires paying attention to your partner and them paying attention to you. Gently singing ad libs to add flavor to your partner’s words. Harmonizing with them to give the notes warmth. Belting out a note just before your partner finishes their line to let everyone know that you’re about to take over for a little bit. See, it has to be a give and take. When done right, what emerges is something that is much greater than the sum of it’s parts.

That’s how I felt last night. Me and my partner played off of each other pretty well, especially considering we’ve never sung together before (just because you’re singing a well-known song with someone doesn’t mean your voices will blend well). And according to the people there, we sounded good. Afterwards, it left me with a feeling of euphoria. To, in that instant, be moving in perfect harmony with someone. To be slow dancing without ever touching their body. That’s what singing does to me.



Not Good Enough

*opens door, changes into a cardigan and sneakers*

Well hello, boys and girls. It’s good to see you again. I know it’s been a while. I missed you and I hope that you missed me too (don’t respond to that, Cheekie). I hope that you’re ready for a story. You are? Well that’s just splendiferous!

*hits the DVR rewind button to two years earlier*

The story starts about the time I began my new prison term life in Pittsburgh. I was still getting settled into my first apartment, learning the layout of the city, and trying not to get killed by monkeys in my research lab (wait, I’m still doing that). Then one day, thanks almost entirely to the fact that my car battery died, I met this woman who was also a new graduate student in the city. We started hanging out a bit and became decent friends. I was attracted to her and almost went into pursuit mode, but something stopped me. It was a weird feeling that I had never experienced in undergrad. It actually took me a little while to figure it out.

I didn’t think I was good enough for her.

When I looked at her and how she seemed to have everything together and then looked at myself and how I was still learning the basics of living independently, I called off the dogs. That’s not what she needed. At least, that’s what I thought. Thinking back on that decision I made, it’s a little easier to see that while my reasoning made sense, it was still a cop out.

First of all, I shouldn’t be making decisions for her. In my mind, dating me at the state that I was in would have been a waste of her time. I didn’t want to bring my naiveté into her life. I felt like I would just slow her down. But how did I know that that’s how she felt? How did I know that she would have minded dating a skinny, slightly awkward Ethiopian who didn’t know the difference between a frying pan and a tablespoon? Was I really protecting her or just protecting myself from feeling embarrassed?

Secondly, I ignored the fact that since I liked and respected her, that she might inspire me to be better more effectively than I could inspire myself, as well as the possibility that she might want to be an active participant in the process. You obviously shouldn’t look towards a relationship to motivate you to improve yourself, but that doesn’t negate the fact that you push yourself a little bit harder when a person you like & respect is in a place in their adulthood that you want to be in.

After a while she became really busy and we didn’t talk or hang out that much. *hits “Back to Live” button on DVR* She’s been a lot more free now during the summer and we’ve been talking and hanging out a bit more. I still like her so I’m gonna see if she wants to come over for dinner or go to the Pittsburgh conservatory or something. I still don’t have my life together like I’d prefer, but why let this opportunity slip away again? For all I know, I may have sent myself to the friend-zone because of that decision years ago. But there’s only one way to find out.