Last night I was on my way home from Ann Arbor (where I had been to see "Julie & Julia"). I was motoring west along I-94 to Chelsea and I had the Met Opera station cued up on Sirius. I was really rocking "Glitter and be Gay" and I got to the end where I was supposed to hit a high E flat, and my voice totally cracked with a screech. I stopped, composed myself, and then sang the the ascending line to the E flat again except when I got to the note I shifted my palate and pushed most of the air into my sinuses. The back of my throat was lifted impossibly high, but it worked and I got the note out, with vibrato, even. Hello whistle register! Emboldened by this feat (it's been a long time since I cranked out a high E flat) I sang the closing line of the aria several times, getting the feel of the notes, making slight adjustments to my jaw and palate to improve the quality of the sound, not that there's much one can do that far above the staff. That's essentially "grip it and rip it" territory. Things are apt to happen one doesn't have control over. The breath takes on a life of its own. I just go along for the ride.
Anyway. So I was really getting into it and I was not paying attention to anything else...and that's when the spotlight and pretty lights came on behind me. State trooper alert! I just sighed and thought, "well, it was bound to happen again some time." I have gotten pulled over for speeding so many times that it just doesn't faze me any more. I pulled off on the shoulder and waited for the inevitable. The officer came to the passenger-side window and rapped on it with his flashlight (omg it's like I'm on an episode of COPS!). This is what ensued:
"Good evening, ma'am. May I have your license, registration and proof of insurance?"
I fumbled all of these documents together and handed them to him in a little bundle.
"Do you know why I pulled you over tonight?"
"I was probably speeding." personal rule #1: just admit it. we all know what's going on here.
"That's correct. Do you have any idea how fast you were going?"
"Um...probably around 80 mph?" personal rule #2: don't even bother pretending I don't know how fast I was going. I ALWAYS know how fast I'm going. except when I get really wrapped up in singing opera...
At this the officer burst out laughing. He said, ""I clocked you going 71...in a 60 mph construction zone."
"How's your driving record?"
"Not good." personal rule #3: just admit this, too, because he'll find out as soon as he runs your license.
"When was the last time you got a ticket?"
"Four years ago." September 2005, on U.S. 141 South in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
"Where are you heading?"
"Chelsea." I was less than a mile from my exit, too!
"OK, well, just hang on and I'll be right back."
I immediately fired off a text message: "I just got pulled over for speeding."
The advice I got: "Cry."
I can't. I never have, even the first time I got pulled over. After so many speeding tickets I have found that the best tactic is to be affable, jovial, and honest. No silly sob stories, no barely believable excuses. (It doesn't hurt to smile, either.) If I get a ticket, so be it. It's not the end of the world. I've mostly reformed my ways since I acquired my Jetta in 2007 anyway.
The trooper was back. He was still chuckling. He handed my things back to me and said, "I'm going to let you go with just a warning tonight...80 mph...heh heh heh...This is a construction zone, you know."
"I know...I was just...singing opera and I got carried away!"
"Just be more careful, OK?" He was still laughing at me.
I merged back onto the freeway for the final mile to my exit and I was home five minutes later.
This has happened before on numerous occasions. Not the getting pulled over part, but the part where I'm singing an aria in the car and I look down and I'm going 90 MPH. It usually occurs when I sing something vocally challenging, such as "Glitter and be Gay" or "Come scoglio" or "Mi tradi quell'alma ingrata" or "Sempre libera," all of which require intense focus and effort. I tend to completely lose myself in the music. When I come to I realize I'm rocketing along the road and I can't remember driving the last two miles.
Singing opera arias in the car: as dangerous as a cell phone? Only a soprano knows for sure...