The other day, “My Fair Lady” was on the Turner Classic Movies channel. Doc had never seen the show before and I was so enthusiastic about seeing it again that he decided to give it a shot (even though he is not a musical type of guy). As Eliza Doolittle burst into song, I sang along in a boisterous fashion and Doc looked sideways at me, wondering why I knew all the words – and why I had gotten up to tidy the living room as I sang.
The dream house I grew up in was rather large – three spacious levels, an indoor pool area, and a humongous backyard. While others may have thought we were rich, it’s not like my mother had a staff of cleaning people – well, on second thought, she kind of did – it was my sister and me (we worked cheap). To be fair, my mom was not like Cinderella’s stepmother – she didn’t sit around and eat bonbons while ordering us to do the cleaning. Usually the house was divided up – one floor for each of us.
House cleaning was done on Saturday mornings and, because the house was large, it took some time. In order to pass the time in a more enjoyable fashion, we had a habit of listening to music – specifically, soundtracks from Broadway and movie musicals. The dream house had a rather state of the art (at that time) house-wide intercom system that was integrated with a radio and 8-track player (if you don’t know what an 8-track is, you are probably too young to be reading this blog, but you can Google it and then marvel at the lack of technology the former generation had to live with. Oh, while you’re at it, Google “CB radios” – that was our equivalent of blogging “back in the day”). My parents had a rather limited selection of 8-track soundtracks, so every Saturday we would hear the same selections (although the order in which they were played was chosen by the person working on the main floor).
As I entered each room, I would switch on the intercom system and cracked up the volume – and pretty soon, I’d be singing along, imagining that I was Eliza Doolittle, Maria Von Trapp, Dulcinea, or one of Tevye’s daughters. I visited a lot of faraway places as I cleaned: the rooftops of London, the mountains of Austria, a dungeon in Seville, and a small village in Russia. If the song was happy, I’d dance as I sang – if it was sad, I would sometimes cry as I sang about my regrets, lost loves, or impending demise. I’m not sure the music improved the quality of the cleaning, but it did make the morning fly.
I learned to love musicals from those Saturday morning – and I take every opportunity to go to the theater or rent a DVD of an old musical I haven’t yet seen. I wish I could say I also learned to love cleaning – but as anyone who has seen my house can tell you, that part really didn’t stick