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My View: Dancing and singing, and a few regrets

By Mary Nicotera

My 28-year-old daughter, Dana, and I recently had a spirited debate about a potential topic for this column. I told her that I was considering writing about some of the crazy things that have happened in my life that I’d like a “mulligan” on, or a chance to do over.

Some of the sillier incidents haunt me to this day, but Dana begged to differ. She offered sage advice beyond her years, declaring that those “silly” events should not be held with regret because they have helped to form “The Chronicles of Mary Nicotera.”

Here are a couple of them, so decide for yourself.

It was the mid-1980s, and the comical music group Sha Na Na was performing in the round at the iconic venue Melody Fair. I brought my pre-teen brother to the Sunday matinee. Melody Fair’s shtick was the fact that the stage slowly revolved. This meant everyone had a great view of the performances.

The most popular member of Sha Na Na was Bowzer. He zeroed in and picked me out of the audience to be his partner for their ’50s-style dance contest. As a former dancer, I accepted the invitation and joined Bowzer on stage. We bopped, jived and rock ’n’ rolled like pros. But after all that effort, we finished in second place.

When I took my bow, I was surprised to hear such loud, enthusiastic cheers. I quickly realized why my subpar performance earned huge hoots and hollers. To my horror, the dancing frenzy had unbuttoned my blouse, revealed my bra, and there I was – exposed and bowing to the masses. In the round. And with no way to turn my back and button up out of view.

By the end of the show, I calmed down and tried to keep things in perspective. After all, who in my life could possibly have been at Sha Na Na on a Sunday afternoon and witnessed this embarrassing moment in my life?

I found out the next day. A young, attractive attorney and customer walked past my desk and coyly said, “Nice performance yesterday at Melody Fair, Mary!”

And then there was karaoke at Crawdaddy’s.

I’m sure you know how it is. You sing loud and proud in the shower, fantasizing that you’re the next Barbra Streisand while bubbles festoon and cascade around you. Well, I learned the hard way that shower singing does not translate to the karaoke floor.

In the 1990s, co-workers made plans for happy hour and karaoke at Crawdaddy’s, which was a fun restaurant and nightclub on the gorgeous Buffalo waterfront. The only karaoke I’d done in the past was with a group. But this time, I was dared to go solo.

Recalling my prowess in the shower, I confidently chose Streisand’s “The Way We Were.” However, unlike Babs, I was far, far from fabulous. Who knew it would be so tortuous and take so long to sing that song? I was sweating buckets.

To make matters worse, the entire catastrophe was recorded on cassette tape. In a panic, I quickly tackled the colleague who snagged the tape. He playfully threatened to blackmail me with it, so I literally decked him and tore it to smithereens. I still shiver at the thought of those poor people who had to listen to me sing that night.

According to my insightful daughter, I must embrace even these humiliating moments in life, and maybe even celebrate them. After all, a wise man once said, “A life without regrets is a life not lived.”

Fair enough. But trust me: I’ll never again volunteer to dance in the round and wouldn’t be caught dead in a karaoke joint.

Mary Nicotera is a lifelong Western New York resident who most likely will regret submitting this column.
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