“Sing a song.”
It was a strange request at a writers’ conference of all places. I was sitting in the front row of the conference room. My friend Melissa was about to start a travel writing workshop. A wireless microphone sat on the table between us.
“Sure,” I replied. “Got a request.”
“How about ‘Danke Schoen’?”
We were both children of the 80s and fans of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, so why not, I thought. I sang the only verse I remembered, which turned out to be a mix of the first two verses, but close enough . . .
Danke Schoen, Darling, Danke Schoen.
Thank you for all the joy and pain.
I recall, Central Park in fall.
How you tore your dress, what a mess, I confess.
And the whole room sang the same “verse” over again. Melissa smiled and thanked me, and then she started her workshop.
After the workshop, she pulled me aside.
“Thank you for the song. That was lovely.”
“I thought you were just kidding around, and wanted to put me on the spot.”
“No,” she said. “When I sat up front and saw that big microphone staring at me I got so nervous and I didn’t know what to say. Then I saw you and I blurted out ‘Sing a song.’ I had no idea you would.”
At that point we’d only known each other a few months. She didn’t know my background—that before I got into writing I was a musician and a formally-trained singer. She didn’t know that I could sing just about any song, and sing it quite well, as long as I knew the words.
She just got nervous and blurted out “sing a song.” And I was there and it made all the difference.