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my funny valentine
Remembering "My Funny Valentine"
I never even heard that song until I was in my mid-twenties hanging out in a Karaoke Bar. This older woman (“Sandy”) made her way to the stage. She had chestnut brown hair and always wore a long classy dress (or maybe that’s just how I choose to remember her) and sang somber slow bluesy bar songs. She had a voice that rolled those syrupy sad notes together into one long mellow phrase, and it seemed she never even inhaled. When she did take pause, it made you want to slowly draw in one long slow warm breath with her to fall into the next long phrase that was to come as you followed her deeper and deeper into the memory she was reliving. I could not take my eyes from her once she started. “My funny valentine……Sweet comic valentine……..” It was mesmerizing. I was swept away.
I felt something magic and wanting in those notes and words – yet the funniest part about “My Funny Valentine”… I don’t know the words. Why is that so funny? Because every other song during those “Karaoke Years” – as I’ll call them - I watched people get up and sing their favorite songs. I know every word to thousands of songs, whether I liked them or not. Except for that one.
When she would reach for the crescendo of the higher end of the song, she raised her arm as if grasping for some unseen dream and you hoped against all hope with her that the man she visualized would just “STAY…!” She would almost cry and we were right there with her. As the notes trailed off, and her arm fell again gently to her side - the applause rose and she slipped off the stage as politely as she had come, disappearing again into the shadows. Every week, same thing; no less intense.
But that one song, that plays over and over in my head – that conjures up so many images and dreams for me – I can only remember the first two lines and the last word. It bothers me this time of year especially.
I was too caught up in feeling something in the notes and words subconsciously, I guess, because now I can’t remember who the song was written for nor what story it told. I do know that it was originally done by Frank Sinatra, but its “Sandy’s” voice I hear every time it plays in my head. I was too entranced with the atmosphere, the singer, and the sound. The words were just part of a haunting melody and I remember that the word at the end of the song in her cry was “stay”. It was a sorrowful and pleading note. As if she was lost in it, the moment and a memory all at once. When she finished the song, I knew she had taken everyone somewhere, whether in the past, or held them in the moment – there was a pregnant pause before a loud round of applause before she would slip off the stage.
It’s such a powerful memory of mine. Maybe this year I should rent it, but then, would my memory be forever ruined or replaced by someone else's rendition of the story and song?
I’m not sure how I feel about Valentine’s Day. I mean, never really having had anything consistent from one year to the next – I have no traditions. Generations have different practices; married people all have their romance and traditions, and children have their valentines and games. I send a lot of cards to family.
I spent a lot of years wishing I was somewhere else; or with someone. One Valentine’s Day I had dinner alone in the Hard Rock Café in Rome and I thought to myself (because if I voiced it to anyone they would lock me up) that if Bon Jovi would join me for dinner here – at the Hard Rock – in Rome – on Valentine’s Day (out of no where of course, It wasn't like I sent him an invitation or anything) – and propose to me after a short walk at the Trevi Fountain (everyone always goes to the Trevi after dinner for Gelato)…I would say yes.
Well, I didn’t wait too long…but he didn’t show. Sorry there isn’t a more exciting ending to that story.
Which leads me to wonder…What do I really wish for Valentine’s Day now that I have met the love of my life?
What do women want? I was asked that several times this year, never having had a proper valentines Day date, I didn't feel qualified to respond. So, I talked to some friends, and relatives, and neighbors, and even sent out a survey. Details tomorrow on how that worked out…