Singing in the Big Apple

By Pat Haley

Pat Haley

Pat Haley

Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” With all due respect to Walt, he was wrong.

Once in a great while the craziest, weirdest dreams will visit me for a week or two. I am in that cycle now. They are never profound, but usually silly and entertaining. My dreams are like going to the movies minus the popcorn.

A few mornings ago, my phone alarm sounded. The room was still nice and dark, and the bed was warm. I quickly did the math. It was possible for me to sleep an extra 30 minutes and still have enough time to shower, shave, and head off to work. I reset the phone alarm, wrapped myself up in a blanket, and closed my eyes. Within minutes I was dreaming.

My first dream was short. I dreamt I was in the back seat of our old Plymouth with my parents and brother, Kevin. I remember singing “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” off-key, over and over again, until finally my Dad told me, “Shut up!”

I also remember Mom telling my Dad to let me sing because, in her words, “Pat has a beautiful voice.”

The second dream was a little more involved. “Honey, let’s not go to work today. Let’s go to New York City and walk around,” Brenda pleaded.

“That’s a good idea!” I replied instantly.

For some reason, I called my sister Rita and brother Jim to tell them we were headed to New York.

“Do you mind to bring me some salmon when you come home?” Rita asked. “The kids are coming over for dinner and I would love some fresh seafood.”

“I don’t know where I’ll find fresh salmon in New York City, but I will try,” I responded.

Rita then suggested I call Jim, saying she knew he would want me to bring him something from the Ed Sullivan Theatre where David Letterman taped his show.

I called Jim and he asked excitedly, “I know this is Letterman’s last show. Would you bring me one of the seats from the theater? I saw Elvis sing ‘Hound Dog’ there in 1956. He was smooth as silk.”

Jim went on to tell me that after the Sullivan Show, in the wee hours in the morning, he, Elvis, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, and Marilyn Monroe all went to a diner somewhere in downtown New York City and ate hamburgers and drank Pepsi.

“I’ll see what I can do, Jim,” I said, as I hung up the phone thinking I must be dreaming, but then again, I wasn’t 100 percent sure.

The next thing I knew, Brenda and I were in Brooklyn walking past historic brownstones and talking with the neighbors who were sitting on their steps as we walked by.

One neighbor told us that Billy Crystal had lived next door, but moved once he became famous. The man started to imitate Billy Crystal. He didn’t sound a bit like him, but he didn’t care.

“Did you see Billy’s movie, Mr. Saturday Night?” the man continued. “Remember the Indian names in Dances with Wolves? Billy had names for his relatives like they had in that movie. He had “Eats With His Hands,” “Spits When He Talks,” “Makes Noise When He Bends,” “Whines In a Cab,” “Never Buys Retail,” “Shaves His Back,” … and on and on.

We meandered along the street and suddenly a woman stuck her head out of a window and suggested, “Why don’t you two go on uptown to St. Patrick’s Cathedral? Mass is probably starting soon.”

The next thing I knew we were walking up the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, past the holy water and votive lights, which glowed brightly near the small altar to our right. As we approached the front of the church we heard a man singing a hymn that sounded like Panis Angelicus. His voice was low and muffled.

“I am glad you are here,” the man grinned as he turned toward Brenda and me. It was Andrea Bocelli, the famous opera singer. “Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote this song for the Feast of Corpus Christi, but I think it should be a duet. Would you sing it with me?” he asked.

“I am honored, but I can’t sing at all, Mr. Bocelli,” I said, suddenly nervous.

“Pat has a beautiful voice,” Brenda piped-up. “He was in the Wilmingtones in high school.”

I glared at Brenda as old memories of my mom’s words came flooding back.

“That settles it,” Mr. Bocelli said. “We will sing together.”

With those words, I panicked. I grabbed Brenda’s hand and we bolted from the cathedral.

“Why would you say such a thing?” I asked Brenda abruptly.

“I thought you might sign a record deal while we’re here,” she said pleasantly.

And then, thankfully, I woke up.

“Why are you laughing in your sleep?” Brenda asked.

“You wouldn’t believe it if I told you,” I said, as I set my alarm for another extra 30 minutes.

Pat Haley is a Clinton County commissioner.

Pat Haley Haley

By Pat Haley