Sunday Lifestyle

I’ll take romance

SECOND WIND - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star

Last Sunday my children and I met for lunch at Wolfgang, the steak restaurant at Resorts World, to celebrate their birthdays.  They were born four days apart, but five years apart. Typically I arrived first. So I ordered a glass off cabernet sauvignon, my favorite red wine, and began tinkering with my cell phone.

Then the pianist arrived and he began to play a mellow jazz piano. I was the only guest in the restaurant. He played Once in a While, a song I love, so I got up, walked to the piano and sang with him. He told me that I sang in tune. I am beginning to learn that when pianists tell you that, it is a compliment. It raises the question — to me anyway — how many people do they accompany who sing out of tune? It turned out the pianist was Carding Cruz, Jr., son of the famous Carding Cruz, Sr., from the family of musicians who formed a part of my faraway past. The Cruzettes used to sing in The Manila Hotel’s Tap Room when I was sort of involved with the hotel.

 Memories of the musicians who played there suddenly revisited me. Romy Posadas and his wife, Rita. Joselito Pascual, who would see me and immediately play Michel Legrand’s What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?, my favorite song at the time. That was more than 40 years ago and yet all it takes is hearing an old song played and a chain of remembered talents and songs surface. Memories are amazing, especially when you grow older. And especially when you age as a singer wannabe like me.

 In 2003, at the age of 59, I had a stroke in my right brain, in my creative side, they say, but I learned that the stroke put my emotions on hold. I did not feel anything for around six years. That taught me that you need emotions to laugh. Normally I laugh out loud. After my stroke, I laughed a little but not in the same way. I didn’t cry either. One of my secret talents before my stroke was I had a memory for the words of old songs that was like the old magazine called Song Hits. I could call up all the words of old songs, songs that my mother enjoyed in my childhood, and I could sing them, though maybe off-key because I was a smoker for 40 years. But after my stroke I did not turn on the radio, did not listen to music. I lived in my own small quiet world.

 Many years passed. I was cured of the effects of my stroke but I did not even think of my memory for music or lyrics until one day around two years ago I got invited on a trip to Tagaytay.  The host plugged his phone into something in his car and his collection of old songs started playing. I remembered all the words to all the songs. From The Very Thought of You, to Purple Shades, Blue Velvet to The Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Tony Bennett to Frank Sinatra to Johnny Mathis.  I knew all the words of all those old songs. The Song Hits magazine in my brain was suddenly reopened. It surprised everyone in the car but most especially, it surprised me. I had completely forgotten that I knew the words to all those old songs. Now suddenly they were revived.

Today I love those old songs, the old melodies, the old beautiful words that make your heart do little leaps. The very thought of you makes my heart sing, like an April breeze on the winds of spring, and you appear in all your splendor, my one and only love. Who speaks that way today? Today the music just screams and I’m sorry to say, I hate all the screaming that goes on.

So today my radio is YouTube. Every morning when I wake up I turn on my computer and go to YouTube. There you can choose whatever songs you want to listen to. You can choose the song or the singer. There I discovered Dinah Washington, a great jazz singer. She has a wide selection of songs that I choose from. Sometimes she sings a song that I used to know before but had forgotten. Old songs are so romantic. Old songs have made me realize that one of the reasons I don’t want to get married anymore is the realization that marriage kills romance.

We get married out of romance. It seems at some point that marriage is the romantic “next step” of our love. Then, as we get so used to each other, so preoccupied with raising the children, the romance goes. Well, not me anymore. So — let’s fall in love, why shouldn’t we fall in love, now is the time for it, now that we’re old, let’s fall in love!

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