I love music. I love music so much that when I am listening to a favourite song I tend to drift into a tiny world of my own. This is absolutely fine when I am alone in the house because I can crank up the volume and engulf myself in sonorous rapture.
My favourite genre is rock music and heavy metal, although I do like less aggressive music also. When listening to a fast loud rock anthem I punch the air in delight, play the air guitar if I can and sing along. This is a big problem; especially if I am driving a car.
About a year ago I was driving to work as usual when an absolute classic rock anthem exploded onto my car stereo.
“Oh YES!” I cried in my mobile haven and immediately joined in with the song. I was captured by the pounding drums, mesmerized by the wailing guitars, enthralled by the screaming vocals. As I drove along I moved my head in time with the music, screamed as the vocalist reached his crescendo, howled with the guitars and, when I pulled up at a traffic light, hauled out my air guitar and joined in with the guitarist while waiting for the lights to change colour.
It was then I realized that the occupants of the car in front had turned around to watch the show. In the back seat of that car, there were two young girls who were openly laughing and pointing. And being stupid, for a second I couldn’t understand the source of their merriment. So I turned around myself, thinking that there was something funny going on outside the car or behind me. When I spotted nothing out of the ordinary, the cogs finally rotated and my brain got itself into gear; they were laughing at me! Trapped in my car, with the lights still on red, I could do nothing. I accepted my embarrassment and waved at the girls. They waved back and continued to laugh so much that their car was shaking.
I wouldn’t mind if this was a one off. Once I arrived at work and one of my colleagues came up to me and said “I was driving in front of you. Are you OK?”
“Of course,” I said. “Why do you ask?”
“Well you looked as if you were in pain,” he replied.
I realised then that I had been listening to a Judas Priest CD and my “pain” was probably me howling along with Rob Halford.
The embarrassment is not limited to just cars, though.
I loathe shopping, particularly grocery shopping in a supermarket. I hate it so much that I need a distraction. I use my mp3 player. I have a wonderful pair of headphones that mask out every decibel of external noise thus providing me with a totally untainted reproduction of all my music. I love them – but they conspire against me.
On one occasion, I was busily pushing a shopping trolley around my local Tesco while listening to Rammstein in my mp3 player. If you don’t know Rammstein, they are a German rock band who are very loud and very heavy; and they sing in German. And I know most of the words.
One of my favourite songs appeared as I approached the frozen food section and while I perused the various offerings, I was oblivious to my immediate environment. You can guess what happened.
It started with a hum.
Then a little muttering.
Then I broke into song.
There I was, rummaging through frozen vegetables in Tesco in South Manchester, singing (possibly at the top of my voice) - IN GERMAN:
Ich brauche Öl für Gasolin
explosiv wie Kerosin
mit viel Oktan und frei von Blei
einen Kraftstoff wie Benzin
I realized what was happening when I picked up my choice (frozen peas I think) and saw five or six people staring at me as if I had just arrived from Mars. I pulled off my headphones and, turning red, switched off my mp3 player and ran from the store in shame – no I didn’t really. I stupidly apologized and carried on shopping. I don’t know why I apologized actually – maybe for assaulting their eardrums.
I know I cannot sing; I once recorded myself singing a Rush song and instantly removed it. I sounded like a cat trying to sing Nessun Dorma while being strangled.
So why do I humiliate myself by singing in public? Of course I don’t mean to but I can’t help it. I need therapy, I think. I think I’ll go to see a specialist - but I must remember to leave my mp3 player at home.