Steff the Singing Fool

Opera Man always makes me smile.

There are a few Vancouver characters that the locals who’ve been here for years know about. Like the Rock-Art Guy. Or Opera Man.

Over the the 12 years I’ve lived in Vancouver proper, once in a truly blue moon the cosmos aligns ever so fortunately, and I luck out and happen upon Opera Man taking a stroll. Nowadays in his 60s, he’s a shorter, smaller, slimmer Italian man who shuffles casually with his hands clasped behind his back and just belts out baritone operas at will. He oozes joie de vivre.

I’ve seen Opera Man when I was depressed as I’ve ever been, and when I heard him and his spontaneous operatic bliss, I couldn’t fucking help but grin. Big. I love that man. Big love. If there’s a “Dude, you rock, and make Vancouver Vancouver” award, he gets one.

Me, I love to sing. But I’ve always been a coward. I have an all right voice. Took voice training back in the day. I’m deeper-voiced, with a throaty, sultry rattle, and smooth power when I want it… but I’m shy.

One of the many “Making Steff Rock” projects I’ve undertaken in this year of conscious changing-of-self is that of trying to force myself to be a bit bolder, less afraid of being spotted for being myself out loud… in all my trouble-making or bold ways that I usually keep somewhat under wraps amidst the general populace.

So, tonight, cycling home along one of the more travelled bike routes, I decided to sing out loud.

At first, just the odd phrase escaped my lips, as often happens, as I headed out of downtown and over the bridge, but by the time I was mounting the massive climb home, I’d gotten to a really slow and haunting cover of Bowie’s Man Who Sold the World and put it on repeat.

And then I got louder, and more consistent. And I lost myself in it as I was killing myself to make it up the steepest part of the ascent, breathlessly gasping in-tune, “…you’re face… to face… with the man who…” and I caught this mom’s eyes as she was walking with her son down the hill, both of them previously obscured to me by a couple vans, and she was grinning her fucking face off and nodded approvingly to me.

Just like I always do to Opera Man.

So, then I sung louder, and even more consistent, and I really got into it. And, you know, I had a fucking blast.

It’s funny. It wasn’t really a conscious decision to force myself into the singing-out-loud thing, but by the time I sort of got a little caught in the act on the bridge and felt all awkward and shy about it, I found myself thinking back to 45 minutes earlier, when my boss’s three-year-old daughter was twirling in our office and singing at the top of her voice, and I had thought, “Aww. She’s having so much fun.”

By the end of my ride, it was pretty apparent I was having much fun. I caught more grins along the way.

And maybe it’s just a girl on a bike, singing a song but, to me, it’s a huge, huge thing. It’s actualizing who I am on the inside with who I’m showing on the outside. That’s maybe something I do a lot more these days, with more ease, but considering how much more of “myself” I have inside that doesn’t often tend to see the light of day or come out from behind locked doors…

Well, it’s a journey I think I’ll enjoy, however inconsequential these things might seem. Even if it’s just belting out Bowie on the best bike ride ever, it’s all good.

And I’m still singing.

Psst. You. Yeah, you. You know I’m on Twitter?