I remember when I first met Tom.
I heard him, talking behind me and I remember my thought “oh, I could fuck that voice”. (Yeah, I know, real nice.)
When I turned to look I, truthfully, was disappointed. There was a disconnect between his voice and his looks, and a definite disconnect between my head and my heart.
Thankfully, it didn’t last too long, that disconnect.
But, his voice. He had a beautiful speaking voice, deep and resonant, and an insane laugh that was another disconnect, a high-pitched, racuous shout. I can’t describe it; this doesn’t describe it. Attempting too is silly. If you heard it you hear it still, if not there’s no way to describe it and I’d best not try.
And that’s not what I want to write about anyway. His voice, yes, but his singing.
That boy could sing.
When I first met him we pretty instantly became friends, and stayed that way for a while. One day we weren’t anymore, the disconnect disappeared and I was in like. BIG like. As long as I had known him we talked theatre and movies and music. From what he told me he had been in or directed just about every musical ever made, and had been doing them since he was 8 years old (Music man with Bert Parks, Omaha…seriously.) I had no reason to doubt him and loved his stories. This would all bear out; he had a collection of cds of every musical ever made, knew all the words, we constantly went to see musicals, he taught me to LIKE musicals….I always called him the gayest straight guy I ever knew. He touted the wonders of being the only straight guy in just about every show he ever did, it was quite useful, it was.
But one night, very early on in our dating, we were driving to a friend of his house for dinner, a party, something. Like I said, he had told me about all the shows he’d done, but I had never heard him sing. And I really wanted to. So I messed about with his musical cd’s and pulled out My Fair Lady and asked him to sing along. “What song?”. “You choose, the one you sing the best”. My god, it was finally going to happen. I was excited and apprehensive at the same time because what if he sucked? Then what would I do? Or, more specifically, say? But the die was cast, the cd was in, and it was cued up to that song.
And then he sang it…”I have often walked, down this street before, but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before..”, and I stared at him, mouth agape,not even believing the beauty of the sound coming from his mouth. It was another disconnect but not a bad one, more a mix-up of who I knew and what he said and how he sounded all coming together in this incredible, majestic tenor voice that soared up in to the highest range of “I don’t care if I (hold, hold,hold,hold), can be here on the street where you live” . My eyes were teary, my mind was blown and I’ve often said that was the moment when I knew I was in love. He was proud and flattered and a little embarrassed, i think, that all through the night I kept referring back to that song. When we left he sang all the way home, every song from My Fair Lady (he did a GREAT Mr. Doolittle!), and from then on, for all the years we were, he sang. And I loved it.
(He sang that song one night outside of our new home, 2 years married, while we sat in the dark staring at it and dreaming of our life there just prior to actually getting the keys.)
Why am I writing this now?
Well, this is my blog and I can write whatever the hell I want.
I want to get some of these thoughts down for when I’m senile and someone has to read them to me to remind me.
And, mainly, because I am cleaning out a closet and have unearthed stuff. Scripts, pictures, reviews and music. Right on top of the pile of music was, of course, “On The Street Where You Live”. It made me smile and it made me cry and it made me remember and I wanted to say it.
The stuff I am finding is his stuff. His memories. Not mine or the kids. I need to clean stuff out; I need to purge…I’ve been doing it for weeks. This is hard though. I see his youth, his dreams, some of it OUR dreams, but really not. Really his. I don’t need music, or old scripts. I look at the clippings and smile and think about a Tom I didn’t know but recognize completely as the man I loved. I don’t need the clippings, the stuff. It’s time to get rid of things I don’t need. More and more, clearing out the old, making way for a possible move or whatever is in store. The changes coming.
Maybe I’ll keep that one piece of sheet music though, just the one. Along with all the memories of being here, on the street where he lived.