7.13 – The MeToo Festival

Right away I told The Professor about MeTooing The Pizzas Boss.

“He’s not even a Reality Traveler,” I said. “He’d never heard of it before. He’s just some regular Reality who normally hides his deepest hopes and regrets.  He didn’t have to MeToo me, but I made him somehow.”

“Interesting,” The Professor said.  “So it was the song that led to the deeper MeToos.”

“Exactly!”

“You like songs a lot, don’t you?”

“They’re my favorite thing.”

“And I hear you have a very high and powerful voice.”

“The Voice Professor said it was a Gift from The Goddess of Music.”

“You know, Bluebird, every Traveler has a MeToo Speciality, meaning they MeToo particularly well via one thing.  You may very well be a MusicMan Traveler who MeToos via these old Radio songs.”

“Wow, maybe you’re right.”

“It’s time to put this to the test.  The big annual MeToo Festival is coming up, and many Reality Traveler Training School Alumni will be in attendance.  For entertainment we’ve assembled a band of Music Travelers.  I want you to sing this “Thunder Road” with them in front of everyone and try to MeToo us all.”

“I’ve never sung in a band before tho.”

“That’s great.”

“What if I suddenly get the Dead Voice and can’t MeToo anyone tho?”

Before he could speak I answered myself tho.

“I know,” I said. “It’ll be good to get my ass kicked.”

“No, Bluebird,” he said.  “There are times when you need to get your ass kicked, but this is not one of them.  This is one of those times when you need to kick some ass.”

Then I went home and dug out The Voice Professor’s Rules for Singing.  I still hated The Rules, and it seemed impossible to deliver pizzas without singing in the car, but I also knew they were the only way to make 100% sure I wouldn’t get The Dead Voice.  I started following them everyday, even tho they were boring and painful.

Then I hadta get together with the Reality Traveler band to rehearse.  They had a guitarist and a drummer and a keyboard player and a harmonica player and a saxophone player.  It was everything we needed to do the song right.  But I hadn’t been around many other Music Travelers and didn’t know if they would MeToo me.

“Are you guys alright with Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road?” I asked them.

“Oh my Gods,” the band said.  “Are you kidding?”

“Oh no, is it not advanced or Reality Traveler enough?  I know they play it on The Radio.”

“No, only MeNotzies hate songs just cuz they’re on The Radio.  We meant are you kidding, that’s one of our favorite songs.”

“So all Reality Travelers really do love Bruce Springsteen?”

“Yes.  He puts it all out on the line, and and goes for broke, and swings for the fences, and makes a stand, and plays for keeps, and beats the odds, and never surrenders, and makes it happen, and goes all the way, ya know?”

“Alright!  I love all those things about him,too.”

Then we started playing the song, and they knew how already, and they were all great at their parts, and when I started singing with them it actually sounded just like the real Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band.

When the MeToo Festival came around we felt ready. The Training School Auditorium was completely full of former and current Reality Traveler students.  First the band got up on stage and played their own songs.  They were all about Reality Travel, and they were good, but it still seemed hard for some Realities to MeToo songs they’d never heard before.

Then the Professor got up to the microphone.

“Attention please,” he said.  “Now I’d like to invite to the stage one of the Reality Travel Training School’s current students, The Bluebird.”

I liked the sound of it, and everyone clapped for me when I came out.  I stood up at the microphone, and they got quiet and waited for me to MeToo them.

“This one’s from the Great List of Old Songs,” I said to them, and then I told the band to “Hit it!”

The piano and harmonica started playing and there was no turning back.  They played thru the intro, and then it was time for me to come in and sing the first line…

“Screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves…”

At first I was cautious, low, and unpowerful. It wasn’t like Springsteen at all, cuz I was too afraid to go for broke, cuz I didn’t wanna be broke.”

But then I saw The Professor in the front row, nodding his head, and then some mysterious Reality in the back suddenly yelled out “Bruuuce!”

And then others in the crowd start following along. It gave me power, which I gave straight to my voice, and then I started nailing it.  The crowd started clapping to the beat, and you could hear some go “Woo!” and “I Lovethis song!”  And then they started MeTooing it.  One by one Realities in the audience start shouting out The Great List of towns they had to Hit the Thunder Road outta.

Philadelphia Suburbs (New Jersey)
Philadelphia Suburbs (Pennsylvania)
The Wilderness (Pennsylvania)
Chicago Suburbs
Baltimore Suburbs
The Middle-of-Nowhere (Massachusetts)
The Slums of L.A.
Arizona Desert Oasis
The Capital of America
California Agricultural City (Grapes)
Florida Future Adult Training Town
NewYorkCity
The far off and not as exciting as you’d think Realities of Paris
    France
The Badlands
Where-ThePlains-Doesn’t-Meet-TheMountains
Indiana Industrial City (Pollution)
Michigan Industrial City (Poison) Suburbs

“Ohio Industrial City (Rubber)Suburbs!” I added to the list.

And then I started going as high and powerful as I could go, and sweat started coming out of my forehead, and the Springsteen-style bandana I was wearing could absorb all of it.  I could feel every MeToo in the crowd turning into one big collective MeToo like a feeling from The Other World.  And it made me leap up and dive right into it and soar in flight right thru it. Finally I got to the last and best line and sang It’s a Town-Full-of-Losers and I’m pulling outta here to win with all the highness and power I ever had.

I used up all my energy and fell from the sky and collapsed on the stage, and when I looked up the crowd was standing on their feet and making a huge thunderous sound of clapping and Woos! and MeToos!  The Professor came up on stage and grabbed me and picked me up.

“Yes!” he said. “You just kicked ass.”

5.14 – The Voice Recital

The Voice Recital was at the ALC Auditorium and there were lots of seats all filled with Realities who wanted to hear God-Given Gift singing. Even El Puma came.

“Your singing may be like a big net,” he said, “and when the chicks in the audience hear it, VUSH! You scoop up all their Love.”

I had worked on “Cupid” every week with The Voice Professor, and I was nailing it easily every time. I was even able to learn all the words without having to hear them. The Voice Professor didn’t know, but I was even nailing it without following The Rules of Singing. I never practiced cuz it was boring, and I Rocked Out hard every time I was in my car. It never seemed to affect my voice, and I wondered if I was just more Gifted than even The Voice Professor realized. I couldn’t wait for everyone to hear me and get The Chills and fall in Love with me.

Backstage everyone was singing their nonsense words to warm up. Including The Hottest Chick. She was finally all alone to talk to. I summoned my courage and trusted El Puma’s training would carry me thru.

“Hey,” I said, “you’re a really good singer.”

“Thanks,” she said.

“I’m in Private Voice Training, too. The Voice Professor says I have the Gift.”

“Good for you.”

“Are you also a Reality Traveler?”

“Yeah, isn’t everyone here?”

“I guess so, but I just got my Calling Card to the Reality Travel Training School.”

“I’ve known some Travelers who’ve gone there. How’d you get in?”

“I hadta MeToo a gritty down-and-out looking local truck driver.”

“I’ve MeToo’d a few truck drivers in NewYorkCity. Also truck drivers in Paris and Buenos Aires.”

“Sounds far off and exciting.”

“It was okay.”

“Oh.”

“Next semester I’m going to MeToo truck drivers in Sidney with my boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend? Does he go here?”

“No way. He’s a NewYorkCity Reality originally from Australia.”

“Like Crocodile Dundee?”

“I don’t know. I don’t watch TV.”

“Oh.”

Then she stopped looking at me, and I didn’t know what else to say to her. And the only thing to do was to start to pretend like I needed to practice my song. I was nailing it like always and vibrating air off all the right spots in my throat to make the right pitches. The Hottest Chick noticed and even raised her eyebrows. I wondered if my voice might be good enough to steal her away from Crocodile Dundee, but there was one little spot that wasn’t working right. I’d vibrate air off it, but it wouldn’t make a sound. I couldn’t even feel the air on it, and it was like it was numb and dead. But I really needed that spot, too, so I could hit the high and powerful “Cu” in “Cupid.”

“Dammit,” I said to the throat spot.

Then as I kept going thru the song I noticed other spots stopped working. It was like the numb spots were contagious, and soon I was missing lots of notes. It started to sound like I opened up my Gift and it was actually a wrapped up box full of poop.

I found the Voice Professor right away and told her about it. By that point even my speaking voice was coming out more scratchy and weak. She put her ear up close to my mouth, and I tried to sing for her.

“Uh huh,” she said gravely.

“What?” I said.

“It’s The Dead Voice.”

“What’s that?”

“Have you been following all The Rules of Singing?”

“Well, last weekend I did drive home to Ohio and sang a little bit in the car.”

“How much?”

“Really not too much.”

“Uh huh, The Dead Voice don’t lie.”

“Alright, I sang way hard for like the whole seven hours each way.”

“Uh huh.”

“I thought it wouldn’t matter.”

“No one is above The Rules.”

“But…”

“There’s nothing you can do now about it. The Gods gave you a Gift, and you didn’t take care of it, and now they’ve taken it away.”

“Forever?”

“No, but it ain’t coming back tonight.”

“But there are so many Realities here I have to MeToo.”

“Uh huh, and you would’ve. But sometimes you have to get humbled like this to respect The Gift.”

“Dammit.”

Then I didn’t wanna be there anymore. I didn’t wanna hear anybody else sing if I couldn’t prove I was better. And then I just wanted to get back to Alone Reality in my room as fast as possible.

“Hey,” The Duckling stopped me on my way out. “When are you singing? I don’t want to miss it.”

“Just leave me alone,” I said.

It was the last thing I could say loud enough to hear, and it was the last thing I ever said to her. When I got back to my room I cried. Tears came out of my eyes, but no sound could come out of my throat.

5.10 – Track #1 of The Great Trip Mix – Sam Cooke’s “Cupid”

“The Goddess of Music,” The Voice Professor said, “touches certain humans at birth, giving them The Gift to perform music at the highest possible level.”

“What about if you can cry you can sing?” I asked.

“If you can cry you can sing, yeah, but if you got The Gift you can cry and sing better, uh huh.”

“Alright!”

“All of our favorite musicians were Touched. Little Richard, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston… And I believe, tho raw and untrained, you have been, too.”

“Alright!!”

“Uh huh, but you have to understand, The Gift is a precious thing. It’s not enough just to have it, you have to take care of it. You gotta work really hard. You gotta almost pretend like you don’t have The Gift in order to make the most of The Gift. I can help you do this, but you gotta do exactly what I say, uh huh?”

“Uh huh.”

Then she handed me The Great List of Singing Rules.

- Practice every single day
- Warm up with nonsense words before singing songs
- Stand up straight
- Breathe
- Exercise
- Drink plenty of water
- No smoking
- No drinking
- No singing in the car
- No oversinging, especially right before a performance

I didn’t like a lot of the things on the list.

“Singing in the car?” I said. “But that’s where I do all my singing.”

 “Uh huh,” The Voice Professor said. “See, but what’s the most important thing about singing?”

“The Gift?”

“Nuh uh, the most important thing is air. You gotta think of your body as an air machine that needs to be operated correctly. When you’re sitting in a carseat, the machine is like a bent straw. You know what it sounds like when you blow thru a bent straw?”

“What?”

“Phht.”

“Oh.”

“When you’re bent you gotta use too much energy to get sound out, and if you blow too hard you could blow out your whole voice. You always gotta stand up straight to sing.”

“Alright.”

“The Rules ain’t always gonna be fun, but you still gotta follow em, uh huh?”

“Uh huh.”

“Now we gotta pick a song to practice all The Rules on and then sing at the Voice Recital.”

“But what if no one likes the songs I like?”

“That don’t matter, cuz you not gonna blow them away with the song, you gonna blow them away with the voice. Now how bout that oh-oh-oh-uh-huh song you were singing in class?”

“Faithfully?”

“Uh huh, who does that one?”

“Journey.”

“I have never heard of them before, can you play it for me?”

Then I brought it in, and we put it on. The Voice Professor turned it up loud and stuck her ears right up to the speaker and kept saying “uh uh” and “mm” and “I see.”

“Tell me,” she asked. “Who is this singer here?”

“Steve Perry,” I said. “The highest and most powerful voice in all of music.”

“Uh Haha!” she laughed. “Whatever you say.”

When she finished listening to the song, she gave one final “uh huh.”

“Yeah, I can see what he’s doing,” she said.

“What?”

“He’s doing Sam Cooke.”

Same Cooke was a high and powerful soul singer about having many Really Old Hits just before The Beatles started The Great List of Old Songs.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Steve Perry isn’t a true original?”

“You kidding, right? Everybody in music trying to sound like somebody else.”

“Even the Beatles?”

“Please, they were doing Chuck Barry and the Righteous Brothers and Little Richard and the hundreds of now nameless to history Rhythm&Bluesmen from the South who came before them.”

“No way.”

“Uh huh way. Now if you wanna sing like this Steve Journey we gotta go to the source.”

Then she put on Sam Cooke’s “Cupid.”

“Cupid” is a song about The Goddess of Love coming down from The Other World in the form of a winged baby and shooting arrows at Realities to make them fall in Love.

“Now listen to this,” she said. “Your boy may be high and powerful, but Sam Cooke is high and powerful and smooth, uh huh!”

She was right. Sam Cooke’s voice was one of the best I’d ever heard. He could give you The Chills just from one note without even knowing what the song was about.

“Go ahead and sing along,” The Voice Professor told me.

Then I did and I was able to nail it right away.

“Uh huh,” The Voice Professor said. “The Gift.”

5.1 – Voice Training

The next year at Artsy Lawless I signed up for Voice Training. It was taught by The Voice Professor, an old Downtown NewYorkCity Reality who always wore a bright yellow and green sweatsuit that made her look like a parrot.

First she needed to figure out whether to put you in Amateur Group Training or Expert Private Training, so you hadta do an audition where you sung something you already knew by heart. I had never sung before without The Radio being on at the same time and couldn’t remember the words to things without it. When it was my turn I had to be honest.

“I don’t know anything by heart,” I said.

“Uh huh,” The Voice Professor said. “See that’s not true, cuz everybody at least knows how Happy Birthday goes.”

“Happy Birthday” is a song about wishing someone is happy on their birthday. All the words are known by every Reality everywhere.

I did know that song, and sang it for her, but it didn’t give me a chance to match any high and powerful vocals. I couldn’t help sounding like a kid who just wanted the song to be over so they could get cake and presents.

“Uh huh,” she said. “We’re gonna put you in Group Training.”

Group Training was me and several other Realities. The Voice Professor would make us stand in a row, and she’d go down the line and sing nonsense words at us like “wawamamawama,” and then we were supposta sing it back. Some Realities were able to repeat it exactly, and then she’d go “uh huh” to them. But most Realities just quietly mumbled the wrong pitch, and then The Voice Professor would ask them if they could cry.

“Yeah,” they’d say.

“Well,” she’d say. “If you can cry you can sing. Now go ‘Waaah!”

Then they’d try to go “Waah!,” but they still wouldn’t do it right.

It was like this for a long time until one class The Voice Professor said we could finally sing a line from a real song of our choice. The only thing I could think of was the “oh whoa whoa whoa oh,” part of Journey’s “Faithfully” cuz it didn’t have any lyrics to remember. I knew there was a good chance the class was full of MeNotzies who hated that song, but most of them had also embarrassed themselves by poorly singing nonsense words so I went for it.

“Uh huh?” The Voice Professor looked confused. “Could you sing that again?”

“Alright,” I said.

Then I sang it again, and she squinted her eyes and leaned her ear in right next to my mouth. Her eyes suddenly widened.

“Ooh!” she said.

She hadn’t said that word in the class ever before.

“Can you sing the rest of that song?” she asked.

“Not the words,” I said.

“What about the sounds? Can you just sing the sounds?”

“Maybe.”

Then I did the song just singing ‘la’s’ instead of the lyrics, and I realized I did know the melody and was actually nailing it.

“Uh huh!” The Voice Professor said. “I think you may… I think just maybe… You’ve got It.”

“Got what?” I said.

It.”

“What’s It?”

“You don’t know what It is?”

“No.”

“Uh huh, well, It is The Gift.”

“A Gift from whom?”

“The Goddess of Music.”

“Ohh!”

After that I didn’t have to go to Group Training anymore, cuz I was in Private Training.