Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Winter Coat

A story about my winter coat.

So it's mid April here in Toronto and I'm still wearing my winter coat. This isn't all that unusual for the time of year, but you do get tired of it. Slowly the temperature is rising, and hopefully by the end of the month I will have officially switched to my leather jacket.

The switch is important to me because it means the weather will be warmer. It will also mean that I will have fewer embarrassing moments which I am afraid I must blame entirely on my winter coat. Specifically its hood.

My ears are very sensitive (ah what a delicate soul I am), even in above freezing temperatures they can get so cold so as to give me ear aches. So I wear the hood of my coat up often. I prefer the hood because not only does it block the cold from blowing in at many different angles, it keeps my hair from getting messy unlike a hat.

But. It is also the source of great humiliation for me. You see, I have no peripheral vision in the hood. I have to be extra vigilant when crossing the street etc. But when walking along a sidewalk where it doesn't matter what's to my sides as much, I tend to forget I can't see around me.

And see here's the issue.

I like to sing. A lot. It makes me happy. And I've been taking singing lessons for years and I am very excited how much my ability has improved. When I think no one's looking I go all musical theatre on the world, and will totally belt any and every showtune loudly in public.

Problem is, with this hood of mine, I don't always realise that I'm not as alone as I think I am. Several times this week I have been singing, again, loudly, only to discover that following almost directly beside me is another individual most clearly within earshot. This being Toronto, as well as being a big city in Canada, they never say anything. People in Toronto are used to strange people talking to themselves etc, and being Canadian are also too polite to stare.

Let me reiterate. I sing loudly. I mean, as if I was on stage. There's no way to pretend I wasn't just singing, or that I am cutely singing to myself. Oddly though, I stop right away and try to anyway, but I always feel ridiculous.

I feel the heat rush to my face, I quickly walk away from that person, and get mad at myself for getting caught.

It's really quite embarrassing.

And then two seconds later, I start singing again.

There's not much point to this story. Nothing that is really analogous to writing or acting. I suppose if I was to make it meaningful I could say something about making yourself vulnerable doing something you love, being true to yourself. Even though at times you may feel really dumb, or people may judge you, it's more important to sing loudly in the street than to walk quietly, head lowered, afraid to be yourself. Maybe I'll even take this lesson myself and apply it when I switch up jackets, and sing proudly still as if I was wearing my hood.

Actually, that's pretty good. But it wasn't the reason for telling the story.

I just wanted to tell the story.


Chris Edwards said...

Really, does anything look weird in the Age of Headphones? Last summer, I saw a woman sitting on a sidewalk planter, talking to herself. I assumed she was using a headset. She was actually hallucinatory, but I couldn’t tell until I passed her.

It was her jacket that tipped me off; it was too scuffed to belong to someone using a headset. But still, what a cognitive leap—eleven years in Toronto and I now associate talking to oneself with professionalism, not madness.

Breka said...

I wouldn't be caught dead singing in public...but I have been surprised in the middle of dramatic recitations of "Jabberwocky" and the like. I feel your embarrassment. There should be review mirrors on things like hoods.

At the same time, walking to work on a wretchedly cold Friday morning there was a girl with a lovely voice singing - loudly - and it completely made my morning. So keep singing.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, Canadian winters. Remember them well. Have to say, I don't miss them.

I find London cold enough, and get my mother to send me earmuffs and thermal gloves from Canada because you can't get them easily here!

Adrienne said...

It does help that current technology makes everyone look a bit mad. Still, not sure what technology allows for singing full voice, vibrato and everything . . . I'm sure we could make something up.

Breka - I too recite "Jabberwocky". I also enjoy the Richard II speech with "Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings". And I wonder . .. maybe that was me that Friday morning, though I wouldn't presume to call my singing "lovely" . . .

sayssara - to be honest when I lived in London, I actually felt colder than in Toronto. I think it had to do with a difference between wet cold and dry cold. The wet just went right through me. Still at least in England they actually have spring and the cold is over with pretty quickly. That was my favourite season there.

Heidi the Hick said...

Well thank you, I love that story!

I've ditched my winter coat but I'm still wearing a toque - I get the earaches too. Oh, we delicate flowers!!!

Sometimes I wear a baseball cap with a bandanna tied over it to cover my ears. Like, a really colourful one with all the paisleys. Drives my kids NUTS.

I don't sing though, sadly. Those darn kids have begged me not to. Pitch snobs...

Have you seen the dude playing guitar with a bag over his head in front of Roy Thompson hall???? That freaked me out because NOBODY acknowledged him- they all went along like it was so normal they didn't even notice anymore! And I was like, "Am I hallucinating??? No really, is he another one of those voices in my head???"

I think in the city you can get away with anything really, so by all means, SING!

Adaora A. said...

Yep I'm in Toronto too, and I definetly...I am experiencing the same thing. Every year it gets warm in February and March, then reverts back to cold in April before it goes back to warm again.

Strange people entertaining themselves are what makes TO what it is!

I love to sing too! I also like to play guitar (which I picked up because I've always loved the way it sounds, and how it would sound with vocals.) Good luck with your vocals! I had the most amazing vocal instructor when I was younger and she told me to keep singing because (well she liked my voice) and because it's one of the joys in life.

Gorillamydreamz said...

My wife sings show tunes at the drop of a hat and also is upset with Toronto for not letting her put away her winter coat yet.

She'd likely join your song if you were sharing a side walk. I think you'd harmonize terrifically.