Today, on my second to last day of vacation in Hawaii, my grandfather cooked us dinner. He insists that the best way to prepare food is to keep it simple.
"Sauces," he'll scoff.
"I tell you what delicious," he looks my sister and I, bouncing his eyebrows up and down, lapsing into Hawaii's pidgin dialect. "You make it simple, wheew and it's ono."
My grandfather made beef macaroni and it was delicious. We melted cheese on top and sat around in the living room, eating off plates balanced in our laps and talking story. My mother had been looking through old pictures before dinner and she had found some from my aunt's wedding. As soon as she turned to my aunt and uttered the words I began to get a knotted feeling in my spleen. I knew picture talk would lead to talk of the DVD. Moments later, my knotted spleen tightened.
"Ohhhhh! We should watch the DVD!"
I was just about to turn twelve when my Aunt and Uncle tied the knot. Around that age I was inspired by things of the theatrical nature. I was enthusiastic about my eventual ascent to stardom, so much so that I was genuinely upset when Brittney Spears kept churning out more refrained hits. The competition, I thought bitterly to myself, was heating up.
Despite my limited resume consisting only of a few solos in the catholic Children's Choir, I trusted that my shaky soprano was the stuff of greatness. So I prepared myself to bestow upon my engaged Auntie and Uncle the honor of a song. Not just any melody, but a song composed by myself and consequently performed at the reception.
It took me a long time to write the lyrics. Since I did not know how to play a musical instrument, the tune was improvised. I only remember a bit of the verse.
Like an Angel, you came for me.
God must have sent you, we were meant to be.
We gave each other all we had.
And I will always love you.
You gave me all the strength I needed.
You're the reason I've succeeded
We've helped each other through so much
And I will always love you.
(Two more verses, a bridge with the climax of the song, in which I hit a high note, don't know which one because I DON'T KNOW HOW TO PLAY MUSIC, and then a wrap up, repeat verse in which I sing the first verse all inside out like B Spears on "Crazy")
Telling this story is making my fingernails want to separate from my skin. Under the lover as an angel metaphor, I had made a joke about orgasms. I desecrated the purity of angelic love with a preposition. I am not sure how much a 12 year old student of works such as "Baby one more time" knows about the institution of marriage, but apparently the idea of everlasting love and godly destiny resonated with me.
And, once again, the song was going to be sung acapella. In front of a wedding reception of about 200.
So amidst heartfelt and trembling speeches from relatives and close friends, my little warble of a accidentally porny Christian rock love song was to debut. The parts of this build-up sometimes hit me in waves of reflective shame and embarrassment. Acapella. Age 12. Inside Out Last Verse. High Note. Awkward Stage. God Love is Lyrics.
However, those things I can usually let go. Chalk it up to inexperience and 12 year old bravado. But what makes me wince as my mother and aunt gush over the idea of watching the wedding video is the bit of improvisation I decided to throw in before I performed my song that fateful evening.
As I made my small way to the podium I felt a sense of increasing dread. I hadn't really bargained for these nerves, I thought, as my hands started shaking bit. Then I remembered my secret weapon, tucked away in my funny-things-to-say arsenal.
My aunt introduced my song and me to the patient audience. I stepped up to the podium and accepted destiny.
"Thank you all for coming tonight," I quoted. (I hadn't invited them) "I just wanted to say a few words before I begin." Pause for effect. Intake for breath. "For those of you who have your hearing tonight, I'd like to apologize ahead of time."Pause. Still holding breath. "And for those of you who are hard of hearing," Pause for effect. Lungs hurting "Tonight, you are the lucky ones."
It's from the film Mr. Holland's Opus, in the last, dramatic and tear inducing scene. A line that made sense in the movie because Mr Holland was addressing a room full of hearing disabled people, not, a party.
I plagiarized. Poorly.
There I was, a twelve year old junior bridesmaid in a red halter dress reciting pilfered lines from a film she saw on Lifetime as the preface to a song that began with a line that could have been substituted into a soft core.
This is why I cannot watch the video of me. The physical evidence of it happening will shatter any dignity I am trying to hold on to from that memory. I told my Aunt that we could maybe watch it when I am thirty.
Congrats on 10 years of marriage, Auntie and Uncle. I love you guys. Sorry I plagiarized at your wedding.