Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tu Amor Me Hace Bien.

It is well known that I often sing to myself when I am at work. Often, when I am completely absorbed in what I'm doing, someone comes up behind me and enjoys the show which I am providing free of charge. There was the famous incident the summer before my mission when I was weeding the wild strawberries south of the Student Athlete Building. As I was doing so, and singing to myself "Play That Funky Music White Boy," Bronco Mendenhall stopped behind me to enjoy my dulcet tones. How long he was there I'll never know. Once I became aware of his presence he asked me with a wry grin what the plants were that I was weeding. I told him and he continued on. For some reason I didn't learn my lesson that day, for today it happened again.

Today's incident however did not take place while I was working on the grounds crew, rather it occurred as I was roving the Museum of Art. Now usually I am very careful to not sing aloud or do any other such actions unfit for a man in uniform. I have been known, on occasion, to conduct with sweeping motions the unseen symphonies that serenade the museum from on high...the PA system. But as for singing aloud, I have, until today, managed to keep such actions to a minimum.

I'm not sure what it was that incited my behavior today. The best I can guess is that the emptiness of the museum, when mixed with the Spanish music that was running through my head all day due to it being Cinco de Mayo, caused a chemical (yes chemical) reaction within my being that inspired me to serenade the world around me.

At around three o'clock as I was on the third floor roaming the galleries that play host to the Southwest American Art exhibition, the religious art, and the American Dreams exhibit. At this time these three galleries were completely empty. As such I, having already finished the NY Times Crossword for the day, was in desperate need of something to entertain my mind while pacing the galleries. As I'm sure you've guessed, I began to sing. Not loudly by any means, just kind of a low hum that only I could hear. But as the minutes passed I began to sing more and more loudly. Now I never got to the point where I was singing full voice, but I was definitely within hearing range of anyone who happened to venture into the galleries. As I was doing this, a piece of art in the Southwest Art exhibit caught my eye and I stopped to examine it. (It was a painting of some Russians. Why it's hanging there with all the Indian portraits and desert landscapes I've yet to understand.) My distraction caused that I left the American Dreams gallery vacant for several minutes, and those several minutes were all it took.

As I revived from my Russian-peasant-painting induced torpor and continued my circuit, I struck up a lively Salsa tune that was wildly popular in Guayaquil during the Christmas of '06. As I was thus engaged serenading what might as well have been a street full of drunk Ecuadorians, I turned the corner into the American Dreams gallery, and there stood a stately older gentleman and his proper little wife beside him, beaming fervently at me. Taken aback at their unexpected presence I quickly ceased my singing. There ensued an awkward moment of silence as I looked at them, unsure of how to act, and they at me with obvious pleasure. The woman broke this silence by saying to me kindly, "You have a lovely voice. Was that Spanish?" I thanked her and replied in the affirmative. They nodded to me knowingly and continued their perusal of the art grinning broadly.

Many a lesser man may have been ashamed at this point. Now I am under no delusions of the quality of my voice. I can carry a tune and read music, but the quality of the sound produced by my lungs is average at best. Having given up social inhibitions for Lent, I suppose I've hardened myself to the point where little that I do causes me shame. I wasn't, at this moment, at all ashamed to have been caught singing, "Ay como te quiero, ay como te adoro, ay lolita linda, tu eres mi tesoro." Heart warming I know. It was my pleasure to have been the means of brightening the day of a couple of older folks out on their date night...afternoon.