After a co-worker and I worked a particularly difficult day we hung around for a few minutes talking, or rather bonding, over the significance of our efforts, or insignificance depending on which side of the paycheck you’re on. That’s when she admitted something quite personal about herself, something she said she has always hesitated to share with others. Since I’m not shy about sharing information, especially someone else’s, I’ll just come right out and reveal…she sings in the car. Not only does she sing but when she’s on a long road-trip and plays car tag, you know, passing and being passed as the miles pile on, she stops singing if the same car goes by, she doesn’t want the total strangers she will never see again, see her as back-up for Madonna or Celine.
I laughed, not because it was funny but because I used to do exactly the same thing. That was way back when AM was standard and FM an option; I was the fifth Beatle. Now… not so much; NPR does not inspire auto-dueting.
Our after work conversation went from…since you revealed something…it’s now my turn. I talk to myself, in my car.
Because I write I sometimes practice dialog, opening sentences or log lines. If a particular phrase seems stilted I speak it out loud until it sounds just right. But…here’s the interesting and kind of weird part, sometimes, I’m interviewed. On the way to work the ladies of The View might be asking the questions and on the way home, Diane Sawyer or Anderson Cooper. Yes, I actually practice questions and answers. Why?
I am comfortable talking in front of ten people or ten thousand; I was interviewed by Martha MacCallum on Fox News once, national studio in NYC, (they sent a limo for my five minutes of Andy Warhol fifteen minutes of fame), so amend that comfort level to millions. It really doesn’t make me nervous, if I am prepared.
Years ago I was invited to be the guest speaker for a group of writers in New London. Even though I had garnered some small success I didn’t have a clue what they’d ask or what I’d answer. So I practiced my speech alone, in the car on the way to work and on the way home, until I felt comfortable with my presentation and with answering just about any question I thought they would come up with. One afternoon, as I was stopped at light, jabbering on and on, I looked at the car stopped in front of me, it was one of those big old station wagons with a third bench-seat seat facing backwards. Three young boys were staring at me while I was being interviewed by Walter Cronkite. I went mute, embarrassed by those three little boys staring at the whacked-woman flapping her gums in the car behind them. (This was before cell phones and Bluetooth because it looks like everybody is talking to themselves now.) One of the young boys pointed his index finger at his temple and drew small quick-circles, the universal sign for, “lady you are crazy”.
Glancing into the back seat of my car, I pretended to talk to a child in a car-seat; an action in its self which qualified me for the funny farm.
Now, I don’t care who sees me being interviewed by Morley Safer; they’ll just think I’m on the phone.
The next morning when I went to work my co-worker asked me, “So, on the way in this morning you were interviewed by...”
“Oprah,” I said, “and you sang with…”
“Aretha,” she said.