So, here I am, it’s somewhere around the recent turn of the new century and I am living every single, woman’s fantasy. I am surrounded nearly every Saturday night by hot, single men, whose sole reason for their existence is to be in my presence! Of course, there is a bit more to the story/fantasy… key word FANTASY
From 1996 – 1999, I was the female lead singer in a five-piece cover band. It was fun, in fact, the group’s name was ‘Serious Fun’ and no, I did not give us that name. Once we disbanded, I woke on New Year’s Day of 2000 as a free agent. By Valentine’s Day of that year, I was part of a cocktail piano duo with the keyboard player from the previous band. We played venues that required big entertainment in small spaces or places where they wanted a piano and a couple of singers; it was fun.
My partner, Jon, played every other weekend in the tiny piano bar located in the basement of the club he frequented with HIS personal partner, Dan. Yup, and before long, he drafted me into joining him to recreate the act we were already performing elsewhere. This is the ‘fantasy’ part I eluded to earlier. Yes, I was surrounded by hot men, but I was not the sole reason for their existence. It was part booze, part entertainment AND a major part, being surrounded by other HOT MEN! The only problem was, none of my fantasies would ever come true, being a straight chick in a gay bar. No worries, as I also got booze and plenty of entertainment (we won’t go into that here) as part of the deal, oh yeah, and I got paid, so winner/winner, I could afford dinner.
I told you that, to tell you this…
Jon was also a music teacher and a choir director. The choir? You guessed it, a gay choir. Several times a year, this choir performed around the region and for good reason, they ROCKED! One of those places was the Collinwood Center for the Arts in Toledo, Ohio. For years, our five-piece band would back the choir and they were gracious enough to invite me to sing a couple solos with them backing me in fine style. Once we became a duo things changed a bit. I still sang solo numbers with them but I also catered their performance after parties we held in one of the side rooms. Still, it was all fun!
I was being fitted for my costumes for this one particular show when my costumer happened to ask me why I wasn’t singing the solo in Fantasy. Like, Earth, Wind and Fire’s Fantasy? Yes, that very same tune but alas, I am not a soprano therefore I was not invited to sing in that number. Still that was not something I cared about, nope, not my fantasy for that show. I wanted to accompany the choir on an instrument!
This tune has a great percussion background and I wanted to play a drum. Not a kit of drums, complete with symbols and foot pedals, no, that was above my paygrade. I wanted to play a Djembe, an African drum. This brought gales of laughter and even a few tears from Jon, as in all the years we had performed and even lived together, he had NEVER heard me play a Djembe. The answer was NO!
I pouted, that didn’t help anything. I whined to my costumer even though I knew that wouldn’t help but he was most sympathetic and supplied me with lots of top shelf liquor with which to drown my sorrows. So I gave up the fight and resigned myself to the fact that this dream of mine, this fantasy would have to find another way of coming true.
Dress rehearsal night and we had our ubiquitous audience of family, a smattering of hand-picked press and a couple people who wandered in simply because we didn’t lock the doors. I was pacing back stage because I couldn’t risk wrinkling my gown by sitting (hell hath NO fury like a cranky costuming queen) when someone came up behind me and covered my eyes with his hands. Damn you!Do not mess up my hair! is what I wanted to shout but remembering there was an audience, I simply allowed myself to be guided to a specific spot, near the act curtain. As the hands were being pulled away, a voice whispered gently, “You’ve got one shot, so make it good.” There, in front of me, was a Djembe!
I took my place, hands poised and heard the music begin. And at the perfect time, I began to drum. This was amazing, their voices were soaring and the drum was the perfect accompaniment. A match made in performance heaven. It worked like the frilly toothpicks I had ready for the trays of bite sized yummies for the party the next night, it wasn’t necessary but it added something special.
When it was all over, I was set up on by the choir, who had NOT been told this would happen and of course they were careful not to mess my hair… As they scattered for their next number, I saw Jon’s face beaming. He gave me a ‘thumbs-up’ and I was a part of that number for the weekend run. Who knew? I knew and the someone who brought in the drum knew. And that weekend, one of my all-time fantasies came true.