Monday, November 27, 2017


Last night in the car on the way home from my 9-year-olds piano lesson You’re So Vain by Carly Simon came on the radio. Naturally I cranked it up and began belting it out.

My son had many questions about this song:
  • What does vain mean? 
  • What are "clouds in my coffee?"
  • Why were songs from a long time ago so slow and weeeird?

I gave him answers and of course let him know the mystery surrounding the song, who is it about? Warren Beatty? Mick Jagger? He was not interested in these facts.

As we got toward the end of the song I’m very into it -– ignoring his request to “make it softer” I tried to school him on horse races in Saratoga and total eclipses of the sun I had to go into another story as to why this song held a special place in my heart involving this classic tune. I turned the volume down.

“MOMMY SANG THIS SONG IN HIGH SCHOOL” I blurted out, giggling and cramping up recalling that time I thought I could sing a Carly Simon in front of people. He wanted to know more about this.

As a teenage girl who was completely unqualified to try out for things (dance team, student senate, etc.) I felt it was natural for me during my junior year to give it my all and try out for SHOWCASE! which was my school’s version of Glee/tame high school rock show.

What made me want to try out for SHOWCASE! (I write it like this because in my mind I see all capital letters followed by an explanation point) were a few things:

1. The musical theater kids were in SHOWCASE! They knew Barbara Streisand’s The Broadway Album and the ins and outs of Les Mis and Phantom and pretended to like Cats like me. They were all super-talented and could sell a song that brought a tear to my dad’s eye when we’d sit at their concerts. Rock songs, standards, pop songs, SHOWCASE! did all this. 

2. They had a theme every year. Themes like "Look At Us Now" or "Fire Up!"



In retrospect, once again I completely recognize this as my longing to be a part of something…belong to something. Anything. Come on Mr. Skora, put me in the way back in the chorus...just let me wear that goddamned jacket.

Now, let me tell you a little about the SHOWCASE! jackets -– they were not cool. Like at all. They were navy blue satin, gathered around the wrists and waist with snap buttons with SHOWCASE! emblazoned across the back and your name in script letters embroidered onto the upper left side on the front.

Obviously, these very uncool jackets meant something to me if I can remember the tiniest detail about them.

These were the second-rate letterman jackets but my God, I would have loved to have had one. I would have worn year-round with the hot Florida sun reflecting off that satin like a solar panel, baking myself like a little singing potato.

I decided I’d audition with You’re So Vain after going between that and Joy to the World by Three Dog Night. I don’t know what compelled me to focus on songs my parents enjoyed rather than sing Circle in the Sand by Belinda Carlisle or All Over Him by The Jets like the other kids were singing but somehow I landed on Carly Simon.

I had purchased the sheet music. 
I never practiced once with piano accompaniment. 
I sang the song in my car and in the shower. 
I wore a beret to the audition. 

In the room was the SHOWCASE! director Mr. Skora along with several current SHOWCASE! members, all wearing that slick SHOWCASE! jacket I longed for. For some reason I wasn’t nervous at all. A few of the current members knew me from drama club and seemed anxious to hear what I had planned.

I did not make SHOWCASE!

I didn’t know how to sell this song, I had never had a lover who walked on to yacht wearing a scarf that was apricot. I also did not know how to sing with a piano. Or sing really at all.

I plowed through one verse and the chorus was told thank you and left. My mind raced searching for the good things I had done in the audition but I couldn’t really find one. I took off my beret and waited out front for my mom to pick me up.

I still held out hope when I went to look at that list on the wall by the music room that my name may be on it but duh, it was not.

No SHOWCASE! No making my dad cry watching his daughter sing songs by The Rolling Stones, The Eagles or Carly Simon. And no jacket.

I tried hard to act really cold around an older boy named David who was in SHOWCASE! so he’d offer up that jacket to me, but he wasn’t taking that thing off for anybody and I couldn’t blame him.

I guess those dreams were just clouds in my coffee. But at least I'm not stuck living with the memory of young me belting out JEREMIAH WAS A BULLFROG at the top of my lungs.