Do You Remember The Day You Stopped Singing?

I’ve been a legal adult for half of my life now, and I gotta say, we adults are screwed up.

picasso quoteThe prospect of growing up is scary to a lot of kids. Sure, they talk about how awesome it would be to eat whatever they want and not have bedtime, but the whole concept of adulthood is freaking huge. There are bills and houses and cars that need fixing and lawns to mow and oh yeah, college and a job that maybe you won’t dread waking up for every day.

Maybe kids don’t worry about that last one. Go find a first grader and ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. She won’t say she wants to work in a call center.

But the fact that many of us have to work crummy jobs, at least for a while, isn’t the reason we adults are screwed up. Businesses need call center workers, and sometimes you gotta take what you can get to pay the bills. The reason I think we’re screwed up is there’s a greater force at play here, one that is persuasive and stubborn and subtle.

I sing a lot. A lot. Pandora is playing through our house pretty much all the time, and if I’m cleaning or cooking, it has to be on a station that has a lot of songs I can sing along with. Sometimes, I’ll print out the chord sheet to a song I want to learn, head to the piano, and figure out how to play and sing it. My kids will grow up thinking moms sing. That’s just part of the package. I wouldn’t be surprised if they ask their future wives to do a singing audition.

I’ve enjoyed singing for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, before I’d fall asleep, I’d stare at my ceiling and sing Little Mermaid songs. I sang with the radio in the car. I was in choir. In high school, they let me sing the national anthem at basketball games and gymnastics meets.

no artistsBut something happened as I grew up…I realized it wasn’t cool to sing out loud anymore. Grown-ups just don’t do that. For several years, I quit singing unless it was in a structured setting where singing was allowed, like in church or at karaoke night. I sang in the car if I could do it without anyone knowing I was doing it.

And it’s not just singing that becomes frowned upon. There are way fewer dancers and artists and photographers and writers than I knew when I was a kid or even a teenager.

I should say it seems there are fewer adults with those leanings. I believe they’re still out there. They’re just hiding, because aside from those who go pro, grown-ups just don’t do those things. Singing and twirling and dancing are for kids. Kids haven’t learned how shitty life can be yet, so let them sing and dance and paint. Adults know better.

Oh, but in this case, I think the kids know better.

singingSo a while back, I decided, screw it. I sing because it makes me happy and because I’m happy. I belt out Adele or Alanis or Evanescence while I do the dishes. I back up Fall Out Boy in the car. I sing the last song I heard to myself while I’m shopping. I don’t care who hears me. I’m not singing for them.

I know there are adults who have been shamed away from doing the creative things that make them happy. All those kids I knew and you knew, the ones who could draw or act or loved making pottery, are still out there. Some may even be reading this post. They just grew up and learned the thing that brings them joy is silly, a thing meant for kids. I think there’s a notion that as adult responsibilities loom, we outgrow these passions. We don’t. We simply bury them and try to replace them, most likely with less constructive or perhaps even destructive activities.

I remember the day I stopped singing. I don’t remember as well the day started again. But you can be damned sure there won’t be a second quitting day.

What about you? Have you buried a long-abandoned passion? Or have you rediscovered one? 


14 thoughts on “Do You Remember The Day You Stopped Singing?

  1. Pingback: I Sang Because I Had To | Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

  2. I confess to having discovered my writing once more after many years, however I must also confess to having let it slide to the wayside once again. I am upset with myself for letting this happen but know it is not unusual for people to experience this.
    I just wish it wasn’t me…..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think adulthood stinks! Because everyone is too serious and/or thinks this is what adulthood is supposed to be. The thought crosses my mind quite often when an adult looks at me funny. I don’t care what people think either and I do things that make me happy. I color in coloring books, I watch lots of animation because the stuff on TV is too stressful to watch. I wish people would keep a some of childhood favs into their adulthood, because its apart of you just like photos, your yearbooks, contest ribbons, etc.

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  4. I sang because I had to.

    Mom sang in church and she expected us to. I didn’t much care for it but I could carry a tune, and later I found out that as a choir boy (we called them servers) I would be up front at mass and didn’t have to sing. That was better – and that was being part of the show.

    In grade school, we sang along with the radio in our convertible as my older sister drove us to the local pool. The summer wind whipped our wet hair on the way home until it was dry, and we sang the whole way.

    In high school, I rocked out in that same car, now a hand-me-down, blasting tunes as loud as the car radio would play them. My high school friends and I formed a rock band and we needed a singer. Mark decided it should be Joe, because Joe was a good looking and a decent singer, and because lead guitar kinda naturally leads to lead singer. When we could afford microphones for the other guys, paid for by our part time jobs at grocery stores and hardware stores, we got them – along with a PA system I borrowed from my brother. Next thing you know, I was a back up singer, too.

    I’m not sure how it happened, because as the drummer I kinda had to stay put back there behind the drums, but we – the rock band – got invited to play the back-to-school dance, and we needed slow songs kids could dance to.

    Now, I could sing. I sang in my car all the time. I sang in church sometimes (I stopped being a server around when high school started; it wasn’t cool any more). I ran for student council and became a homeroom representative, so I’d given speeches in front of the class. I read the audience participation parts at school masses so I had spoken in front of large groups.

    So whoever got the bright idea to have me sing a slow love song at the back to school dance, I didn’t say no, and I wasn’t scared to do it; I just wondered who was gonna play the drums. Maybe I didn’t want to find myself out of my drummer gig. (Like that would happen. My drum set ROCKED: double bass drums, six tom-toms, four cymbals, two snares, all in black lacquer, and some cowbells and other cool stuff like chimes. It was totally bad ass.)

    But we needed somebody to sing a slow song. I’ll have to ask ping Mark on Facebook and ask him why I was elected. He’ll probably say I requested to do it, but that’s not my recollection.

    Anyway, somehow I sang a few songs from behind the drums while playing the drums, which was fine with me, but I think for the dance we decided the singer needed to be out front. It looks a little silly if you are seeing a band and can’t tell who’s singing. So I went out front and Greg, our sound guy, filled in on drums.

    Can you believe that? We had no paying gigs and no money but we had a sound guy.

    I practiced all week, and the night of the dance, I sang my one slow song out in front of the rest of the guys like we talked about. In front of the whole school at the big back-to-school dance.

    Probably that was the last time I sang in public.

    It’s not what you’d think. It didn’t go badly. It went fine. I had fun and did a good job and that was that.

    College started and we tried to keep a band, but it wasn’t as easy, and when I moved to Florida the drums stayed in Ohio to be sold.

    After that, I kinda stopped being a drummer (although once a drummer always a drummer, especially if you were in a rock band). But in our day we played at school masses and school functions and a few big arenas.

    I sang in front of lots and lost of people.

    And I was pretty good. Not professional singer good, but guy with no training good. I held my own and the audience enjoyed my songs. When that part of my life was over, I moved on to the next part and didn’t worry too much about it. I have a house; if I wanted a drum set, there’d be one in it. If I wanted to sing, I’d be singing.

    I do sing, though…

    At the recent kindergarten field trip, while we were waiting for everybody to gather back together so we could leave – parents chaperoning kindergarteners take forever to do anything – I asked about the Wide Mouth Bullfrog Song. I knew about it cos my kid sang it incessantly for weeks, but a group of tired kindergarteners become a cranky group of kindergerteners if they aren’t kept busy.

    So I sang.

    They’re good kids. After a few words, they all joined in.

    Most adults would have stopped about there, letting the kids take it. In fact, most adults wouldn’t have stared singing a song in the first place. I’m not the guy singing out loud at WalMart. That guy – or lady, usually – is a little nuts, in my opinion. But the guy or gal singing in their car? Rock out, dude. But at the kindergarten soiree, I’d have expected the other parents to join in. They didn’t join, and I didn’t stop.

    Then we sang the new tune, Down By The Bay. That one has jokes in the middle of it. Boy, if you get the jokes in the wrong order, the kids let you know.

    I sang that one at Disney, too, this past weekend, when we had to make a particularly long trek from Tommorrowland to the castle once our friends showed up with their six year old daughter.

    So, I sing.

    I’m good.

    And I’m not shy. As in, I know you want to be having as much fun as I am with your kids, but I WILL AND YOU’LL WATCH.

    Meh. Whatever. I’m not trying to get attention. But other people see we’re having fun. As Sean Connery said in Rudyard Kipling’s film adaptation of The Man Who Would Be King, “If a king can’t sing, it ain’t worth being king.”

    And a that back to school dance? Turns out there were a LOT of girls who noticed the cute drummer (their words, not mine – according to Mark) and when the drummer sang, that was a big deal. A BIG deal.

    I had no idea. Mark only told me many years later. Maybe that’s why he stuck me out there in the first place, for marketing. He probably won’t admit that, either.

    So singing has and always will be a way for certain guys to catch the eye of certain girls for certain reasons, but the reasons change. These days, I’m a dad and the girl is my daughter and her friends, and we’re singing about frogs and the reason is to stay distracted from the long walk or the long wait.

    Once upon a time it was different. Singing was a way to stay in good with Mom or get status from classmates or assert my leadership or woo women. Then it was a way to get a crying infant calmed down. Now it placates kindergarteners.

    I’m not sure what the next use of this superpower will be.

    I am sure it’ll be interesting, though. All the other ones have been.

    Liked by 1 person

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