Friday, April 27, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mz. Opera

Today is my baby sister's birthday and in her honor I'm going to run an updated version of one of my very first posts about her called Musical Pearls Before Sisterly Swine. If you've already read it, scroll to the bottom of the post for a little addition to the story.

I would also like to send a Happy Birthday tomorrow to my Sister-In-Law, Fancy Pants, who is married to my brother, Mr. Prodigy.

Last weekend, my baby sister (whom I shall henceforth refer to as 'Mz. Opera') got the part of Madame Butterfly in a small yet sophisticated opera company in a small yet sophisticated midwestern city! I am so proud of you, Mz. Opera.

And to think Mz. Jackson and her other sister, Mz. Blue Eyes, almost ruined a budding career in its early stages.

Many years ago (I'm not telling you how many years, Mz. Jackson does not reveal her age to friends or strangers), my mother was driving me and my sisters, Mz. Blue Eyes and Mz. Opera home from church one evening. Mz. Opera was about five, I was thirteen, and Mz. Blue Eyes was twelve. As we headed down the single-laned country road that led to our little house in the big woods, my mother asked Mz. Opera about her day at Kindergarten.

"We learned a new song!" Mz. Opera said, her big eyes shining with excitement.
"Oh, we would love to hear it," says Mother with motherly enthusiasm. "Wouldn't we, girls?" she asked-but-really-commanded Mz. Blue Eyes and myself.

"Oh, yeah, yeah," we both muttered. After all, we would much rather discuss the sweaty, prepubescent boys we saw at church than listen to some nursery rhyme set to song, but whatever. Mother had spoken.

Little Mz. Opera drew her body up straight, pointed her black Cherokee eyes heavenward, and belted out in true opera fashion the following:

Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong bell,
who put pussy in the well?

Did Mz. Blue Eyes and I hear the budding and brilliant voice of a future star? Nope. All we heard was one word: pussy. And since we'd recently learned on the school bus (rolling school of smut education) that the word could mean something other than cat, we both burst into laughter.

Poor Mz. Opera was completely smashed. She shut her mouth immediately, gave us both an accusing glare, and sank back into her seat.

Mother was mortified. "Hush up, you two! That was beautiful, Mz. Opera! Oh, please keep singing!"

I, smitten immediately with the guilt that is integral to my nature, begged, "I'm sorry, Mz. Opera! We weren't laughing at you! We were laughing at..."

I stopped here. Now how was I supposed to explain why we were laughing? To a little five year old? With my mother well within slapping range?

I looked to Mz. Blue Eyes, but she just shrugged. Truth be told, she'd been a little jealous of Mz. Opera since the day they brought her home from the hospital and had found her to be somewhat of a pesky annoyance ever since. Such is sisterly love. No help there.

I stammered, "We just thought the song was funny! Your voice is so pretty! Sing some more."

But Mz. Opera would not make another peep. In fact, she didn't cast her musical pearls before her sisterly swine for at least another ten years. But when I heard her blast the roof of her high school auditorium when she sang the national anthem for her high school graduation before going on to study opera, I was finally released from my prison of guilt.

Ah, it feels good to be free. Sing on Madame Butterfly! Sing on.

Note: I found out later that Mz. Opera decided later that evening she was going to run away from us ungrateful hooligans who had no appreciation for her artistic talent. She made it all the way to the end of the first leg of our mile long drive before my brother, Mr. Prodigy, caught up with her and convinced her to come home.


talj said...

What a great story! So glad you posted it again for me to read! :o)

operamom said...

made me cry.

jbwritergirl said...

I loved this post. I grew up in a family of eight kids and we had many of these kinds of experiences, some of which still linger on today. LOL