Too darn hot!
SECOND WIND - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - June 17, 2017 - 4:00pm

It was so hot today.  Walking the few meters to my car I feared my brains would fry. When I get home big drops of rain fall, followed by flashes of lightning and the noisiest thunder; but within half an hour suddenly it’s clear again, hot again. This shuttling between boiling hot and loudly wet is seriously irritating me. What song should I sing?

I know. Ella Fitzgerald’s It’s Too Darn Hot, a song from Kiss Me, Kate, an old musical replayed wonderfully well on YouTube. Ella sings, “I want to sup with my baby tonight, drink the cup with my baby tonight, but it’s too darn hot...” I remember that song. I’ve been listening to it lately because I love Ella Fitzgerald’s jazz voice, rediscovered her when I was preparing for our show that is now dead.

I listen to It’s Too Darn Hot and find myself in a better mood. I just listened to a clinical psychotherapist named Mary Anne Rafols, nicknamed Monet or Monette, who talked to the seniors at The Sunshine Place on the subject of “Music as Therapy.” She said music connects you to your life again and again. And, I suppose, you can work out your life either by singing the songs that pop into your head at the thought of a situation or by playing the song and listening to them. Or you can write your life story by turning it into a musical. That would be so much fun.

Let’s spell her name as Monette; give it a French look. Monette says that music is a gift, our own way of expressing what’s happened or is happening or we hope will happen to us. She asked us to write down the title of the first song that popped into our heads. My dear American friend, Maggie, who I sat beside, said, “Put your sweet lips closer to the phone...” Those were lines from a song I vaguely remembered and it brought the brightest smile to my face and the shyest smile to hers. 

I wrote down Someone to Watch Over Me.  I thought, Oooops, is that what I want? It must be or I wouldn’t have written it down. It tells me that maybe that’s what I miss. While I live happily alone maybe I miss having someone to watch over me. Suddenly I think of my mother’s life in Vancouver. She also lived alone but in a senior’s community so she had many friends. She even had a boyfriend. She had someone to watch over her. We don’t have senior communities here and while I live in a condo... no, my driver probably watches over me and the guards and maintenance men downstairs. They watch over me.

Monette and I think everyone should sing. Singing flies from your soul. I love living alone because it allows me to sing from the bottom of my toes. No one complains. I don’t sing very well. Sometimes I’m out of tune. Other times my voice cracks or goes flat. But who cares? The important thing to me is that singing helps me express myself. When women say, “I don’t sing,” I feel they’re being unkind to themselves.  Everyone can sing if they want to. Maybe they can’t carry a tune. Who cares? The important thing is they express what’s in their heart at the moment.

And you know, singing helps you revive bonds of affection with people you love. The song Embraceable You reminds me of my mother.  Whenever I sing it I remember her and I get flashbacks of her life — how beautiful she looked when I was young, the sound of her laughter, the wonderful times we had together.

Sometimes when I think about my career I sing The Hungry Years, a song written by Neil Sedaka but made popular by Rita Coolidge. But I rewrite the words. The song is about a young couple trying to build a life together so they worked hard to grow out of being penniless to being very successful. I sing that to be about me alone working to rise out of being left penniless with four children to being successful enough to have a good life. But every once in a while, I miss the hungry years, the once upon a time, the lovely long ago, I didn’t have a dime, the days of me alone, I lost along the way... Those years were wonderful when replayed in my memory.

Monette draws a chart on the whiteboard. It shows your past, your present, your future. She tells us to sing about the past because the music enlivens memories. We all need that once in a while. And sure, sing about the future maybe in terms of Que Sera Sera, that old Doris Day song. But most important of all, she says, embrace the now. And now?  It’s too darn hot!

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