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A vocal confession

BY Rachael O. Phillips

Take a deep breath.

My confession dwarfs those in the National Enquirer. To you, loyal readers, I admit my deep, dark secret.

I love to sing. Loud.

No true singer suffers in silence. However, she expends enormous energy as she tries to conceal her habit. Government studies have revealed thousands of “social singers” who indulge in far more than humming along with Golden Oldies or singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during Wrigley Field’s seventh inning stretch. Yet no 12-step programs, no support systems have been created to deal with the problem.

This proves especially tragic because science has discovered loud singers can’t help their addiction. My DNA and cultural heritage leave me no choice. When one parent shook buildings a block away with his booming bass and the other sang a mile-high sweet soprano while she washed dishes and folded laundry — no wonder I am messed up. These dysfunctional parents discovered two things kept their five children from fighting in the station wagon: eating and singing. They found it cheaper to fill our mouths with music than with food, so we sang on every car trip. It’s almost too painful to recall such abuse, but they taught us to sing harmony. Yes ... even four and five parts.

No wonder we still cannot keep our mouths shut.

Add to this the destructive influence of the media when I was growing up. My parents allowed me to watch movies like “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Sound of Music” and “Singing in the Rain,” in which Munchkins, nuns and even kids like me sang. What were they thinking?

I fell deeper and deeper into the pits of performance and joined other societal misfits in choirs. When I burped during my first public solo at 13, many thought the experience would steer me away from the dark, depraved path of singing. But I had sunk too low too long.

As an adult, I never have kicked my habit. I sing in the car — just can’t help it. Sometimes I even roll the windows down. ...

One reckless day I was finishing the mighty chorus of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

“Glory, glory, hallelujah!” I sang to the stoplight.

A pickup, woofers nearly shaking its wheels off, pulled up beside me. “Hey, lady!” the driver yelled. “Lose the noise pollution!”

I did restrain my cravings in public for my children’s sake — and because they dragged me out to the parking lot and locked me in the trunk. After all, I had dared sing “Country Road” along with John Denver in K-Mart. When I harmonized with the Beatles on “Yesterday” in the dentist’s office, they borrowed her novocaine.

Ballgames tempt me almost beyond endurance. You know that high note on “O’er the land of the free-e-e-e”? I get the shakes because I’m dying to fill in the blank!

But I grow a little tired of ejection along with the rejection.

Once I met a fellow singing addict, a flight attendant, on a jet plane. When snow delayed our December flight, he decided Christmas carols would cheer us up and sang “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” over the loudspeaker. Delighted, I joined in. Other passengers apparently did not feel rested or merry, and they chased both of us out onto the runway in front of a taxiing 747.

Such is the life of a hard-core singer.

Until I discovered many other singing addicts could be found at church! And God’s Book told us He actually likes our singing: “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” (Psalms 95:1) My fellow rebel – my husband – dons his favorite T-shirt that says, “Real Men Sing Real Loud.” We join fervent voices to let God know we love Him. But we realize He does not suffer from hearing impairment. And we try not to disturb His other children as they worship.

Someday, though, angels will welcome us addicts at a forever sing-along in heaven. They will sing even louder than we do.

And little kids around us won’t even hold their ears.