Not only do I love to write, I also love to sing. I’ve been writing since I was ten but singing since I was eighteen months old. It was while traveling home to Tennessee from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina (my dad was a soldier) to spend Christmas with family, when my parents first discovered that I had a natural talent for music.
To hear my mother tell it today, a song played on the car stereo and while sitting in the back, directly behind Mom and Dad in my car safety seat, I hummed and sang, babbling to the tune and words of the music, slapping my pudgy little hand against my lap and bobbing and swaying my head to the beat of the music. My parents immediately took notice as I kept in perfect key and rhythm. Mom, who was sitting in the passenger seat as Dad drove, turned around and peered at me from between the front seats. She then looked at Dad, wide-eyed with amazement, nudging him with her elbow and saying,
“Listen to this baby sing!”
“Oh, I hear it!” Dad said excitedly, having several times taken his eyes off the road every few seconds to look at me through the rear-view mirror. My parents, both music lovers themselves, then turned and looked at each other, mouths agape with astonishment. They had never heard an eighteen-month-old toddler sing so well.
Mom then turned around, looking at me again with a big smile on her face. Dad continued glancing at me through the rear-view mirror, grinning from ear to ear with delight.
Fast forward forty plus years: I had entered a talent show in Covington, which was held at a bar and night-club not far from the county line. First prize was four-hundred dollars, second prize was two-hundred and third prize, one hundred. Having sang in several bands and won numerous talent shows and contests, I was one of the last of about twenty contestants to perform, with my chosen songs being “Girl on Fire” by Alisha Keys and “Fancy” by Reba McEntire. My mother, stepfather and my husband, who was my fiancé at the time, had come to watch me perform.
When the contest was over, we sat in a dimly lit barroom filled with over a hundred people, waiting for the judges to tally up their votes and the winner to be announced. It was close to midnight on a late-spring night and the back door of the tavern was kept open to let the cool air in. Our table was next to the open door and bugs were flying all around, attracted to the lights over the stage.
To my horror, I felt a huge mosquito-hawk fly down my camisole, into my brazier! Completely creeped-out by the wiggling and squirming felt down my shirt and fighting like the devil the urge to frantically dig down to fish the critter out in front of a hundred plus people, I quickly got up and exited the building through the open back door!
Once I got outside, it was completely dark…no security lights…nothing. Although there were several cars in the parking lot, everyone was inside enjoying the festivities. Being certain that the cover of darkness would provide me the privacy I needed to take care of the situation, I pulled my bra down over my breasts and began anxiously brushing and thumping bits and pieces of the insect out of my bra and cami.
Suddenly, click! Headlights! Spotlighted by headlights…on high beam! Because it had been pitch dark, I hadn’t seen the two men sitting in a parked pick-up about fifty feet in front of me! They switched on the headlights while cranking the ignition, then revved up the motor…and I’m standing there…completely exposed!
Mortified, all I could do was turn my back to them to face the side of the building and finish. I then scurried back inside as quickly as possible. I returned to our table and my family and fiancé were falling out of their chairs, others were also looking at me and snickering. They’d put two and two together after seeing the abrupt glow of the headlights beam through the door, knowing I was outside taking care of myself. I couldn’t help but to laugh myself!
After winning first place, I took my prize money, politely thanked everyone, and my family and I made our way through the crowd to leave for the night. On the way to the front exit, I happened to look to my right and notice two older men sitting at a corner table with big-wide grins on their faces, looking directly at me with laser focus and eyes, which seemed to light up. Instantly, I knew who they were!
Feeling my face flush hot, I turned to my mother and said, “The sooner we get out of here, the better!”
It’s funny now. But while it happened, not so much.