Backseat Driver

Monday, November 22, 2010

Everyone has weird habits. For example, Clayton likes to take his pants off in the middle of the living room and leave said pants in the middle of the room until I get annoyed enough to pick them up and put them in the laundry basket. I don’t know why he does it, I’ve asked him about, but he can’t really explain it either. Something about a long, hard day’s work at the office gives him the urge to de-pants in front of the couch.

I personally have a lot of strange habits. I can’t use a straw without chewing on it. I have to have an even number of glasses and dishes and, if I don’t, I’ll donate or give away the offending odd numbered piece. I always eat side dishes first.

But perhaps the most peculiar habit I have, that I actually just discovered recently (much to my own horror), is what I do when I’m alone in my car.

(Ah, that sounds like a set-up for me to disclose a sick, sexual fetish I have. But no, sorry. Nothing that interesting.)

If you know me well, you know that I love to sing. I was in choir for a few years and my best friends and I sat around with a guitar for hours on end in high school. It was like a second nature. But, if you didn’t know that I love to sing, that’s because I am painfully shy about it. When I sing with a group or just one other person, I’m much more at ease, but when I’m solo I tense up and feel shaky. I’ve tried for years to overcome this timidity because busting out an old Neil Diamond song is a favorite hobby of mine, but it hasn’t been easy. I sang for Clayton once in the entire 7 and a half years I’ve been with him, but that was with the help of some liquid courage in the form of Smirnoff Lemon Vodka shots.

About a month ago at a family dinner, my father-in-law asked me how guitar lessons were going. I gave him a brief answer and then Clayton interjected with, “Yes, and she’s a really great singer, too.” I’m pretty sure I turned a million different shades of red and immediately changed the subject.

It’s very odd that someone could keep something they’re so passionate about a secret, but for whatever reason, I have. I’m just self-conscious, and I totally blame American Idol for it. You’ve seen the auditions; you know how people can be completely fooled that they are amazingly gifted in voice and then make complete idiots of themselves when they sing in front of others. I refuse to be that person!

Gosh, one of my nightmares (it makes me feel jittery and anxious just thinking about it) would be to sing in front of an audience with a warbled voice, looking like I’m trying too hard. I see myself trying to hit a high note or a low, sultry one and totally sounding like a 7 year-old singing show tunes on Star Search. My worst nightmare is to look like I think I’m hot stuff when really I’m the complete opposite of talented. Kind of like how Paris Hilton and Angelina from Jersey Shore must feel.

Okay, sorry. That was a long road trip to Irrelevant Town, but now I’m turning the car around to head back to what I was talking about earlier …

You get the gist of things - I like to sing, but I don’t like doing it in front of people. This has led me to doing my majority of singing in the privacy of my car while driving around town (undoubtedly making yet another trip to Wal-Mart). Now, just so you know, I get DOWN in my car. Glee soundtracks, Journey, Michael Buble’, whatever’s on the radio – you name it! Pretty much anything becomes an intimate concert in my G6. I have no problems belting out Broadway medleys and 80s power ballads when the only people who could possibly see me making a fool out of myself is oncoming traffic. I have no shame in my car …

That is, after I check the backseat to make sure no one is there.

That’s right. Before I start doing any singing of any kind in my car, I have to check the backseat … for a person. I have to make sure that there isn’t anybody hiding in the backseat, privy to my private show.

I noticed that I do it only while I’m driving alone at night. The other evening, I pulled out my apartment complex like usual, turning on my acoustic Alanis Morrisette cd and preparing to send all crappy men to hell with my angry rendition of “Outta Know”, when I stopped mid-lyric and turned to search my backseat for a stow-away.

“What am I doing!?” I finally asked myself out loud, after years of practicing this strange ritual … and then I all became clear to me why.

I’m more scared of being embarrassed than mutilated. I wouldn’t check the backseat of my car for my own personal safety, but to make sure no one was hiding back there to hear me sing.

How incredibly asinine is that?

Fine. Break into my car and follow me home so you can murder me, but please, please PLEASE don’t listen to me sing and judge my voice. I’d sooner DIE than have someone hear me sing … which I guess is relatively convenient considering why you’re probably hiding back there in the first place.

There you go, readers. Welcome to my secret disgrace.

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