I wish to apologize to the United States of America.
At a brunch meeting earlier this week, the man at the front of the room invited everyone to join him in song following the Pledge of Allegiance. My breakfast suddenly did not sit so well.
My family pleads with me not to sing. Seriously. And when I do, my wife will lean over, placing her hand gently over my mouth, and say “no sing” — a phrase the children adopted as toddlers.
Apparently, my singing talent evaporates the moment I shut off the shower head.
As the people around me joined into a group sing of “God Bless America,” I proudly waded in, hoping to complement those around me. Earlier in the day, I’d channeled my Steven Tyler, blasting out a favorite Aerosmith tune in the cab of my truck. Surely, my talent would continue, I thought.
My voice complemented those around me with the subtlety of a screen door slamming shut on a hot August afternoon.
Searching for a handle, I adjusted my register — changing the octaves, let alone the notes. But, unfortunately, the door only slammed louder.
For years, I’ve convinced myself the best singers are those with a distinctive voice. Sting of the Police, Rod Stewart, even my earlier singing partner Steven Tyler. Maybe I’m just unique and have not yet found my special niche.
From the looks of others in the room, this brunch wasn’t going to be my niche.
I repeatedly lowered my volume, searching like a newbie driver behind a manual transmission for the first time. It was ugly.
Singing, maybe next to the violin’s sound, is one of the most beautiful sounds on Earth, able to evoke unwilling emotions and bring tears to our eyes. Yet, on this day, the action I probably generated was others trying to step away.
I go to a dentist to fix my teeth; I go to an eye doctor to correct my vision. But can my singing voice be altered? We live in a world where billionaires travel to space and people willingly pay $5 for a cup of coffee, but we can’t help those singing-challenged retune our pipes?
I’ve often wondered whether the only way I’ll ever sing in key is to let the piano go out of tune, and people think I’m trying to match the stretched-out strings. But, of course, people wouldn’t buy that.
If I get to heaven, I wonder what job God will have for me. Pushing a broom? Giving high-fives as people enter the pearly gates? One thing for sure is not even God will put me with the singing angels. Some things won’t happen even in heaven.
Until then, I figure I’ll try to keep my voice low, mumble the words and hope for the best. And if we happen to be standing next to each other, know my underwhelming performance is not meant as a slight to our nation but rather a sign of respect to you and my fellow countrymen.