Part II: Journeys (Chapter 16)


I-29 & I-680–Northbound

You kid me now about being off key, but I used to have a pretty good voice. Did you know that?

In seventh grade choir, I had this lilting soprano that bounced back and forth throughout the church, even during Requiem Mass.

You’ve never really lived until you’ve heard “Dies Irae” belted out by a 12-year old soprano in the throes of a hormone war: Dies Irae, dies illa,/ Solvet saecleum in favilla:/ Teste David cum Sybylla./ Quantus tremor est futurus,/ Quando Judex est venturus,/ Cuncta stricte discussurus!/ Tuba, mirum spargens sonum, Per sepulcra regionum..../

Who cares what it means? Supposedly knocked off three years Purgatory time every time we sang it.

“Remember, Samantha Anne,” the nun who directed the choir always warned before Requiem Mass, “no Indulgences if you sing too loud.”

Then when I turned 13, my voice began to crack somewhere between a soprano and an alto, and I gained 15 pounds.

The voice went, the hormones raged on –

For the rest of the year, the fat child stopped singing, lip-synching through eighth grade choir. I lost a lot of Indulgences, maybe even backsliding a bit.

And then high school and the unavoidable hootenannies and sing-alongs...More lip-synching.

Even now, I don’t like singing in public. It’s just too down and dirty personal. You’re just too goddamn vulnerable when you open your mouth wide and sing from the gut like the choir nun wanted us to do. You never know what’s going to come out.

Or go in.

Besides, I’ve never been able to figure out what would really happen if the fat lady sang.

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