Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spot On

Last night after dinner, when I was getting ready to leave for the gym, Ainsley came running into the kitchen.

"Mommy, I have something for you before you go!"

"Yeah? What's that?"

"Do be-do-be-do do-do-doooo, deee, da do-do DOOOOOOOO...."

And she launched into the one thing she does that never fails to crack me up...Her flawless imitation of the Hamster Dance song.

I'm not kidding, she does it DEAD ON. You would swear we have the real thing playing somewhere when she does it. She has the cute little squeaky voice for it. It's so adorable you could just eat her up.

Being a skilled impersonator is a trait that runs in Jason's family. They all can do impressions (most of them not of famous people, but of the various colorful characters in their lives) so biting that it makes you hope no one has mastered an impression of you yet that they bring out at gatherings when you're not around.

I'm not naturally skilled at this, but I do have a theory that every person has at least one person or character who they can do a spot-on, flawless imitation of. Whether it's the Wicked Witch of the West (my sister's forte, which used to simultaneously thrill and scare the bejeezus out of me as a kid) or the Appalachian-accented star of all those state-created professional development videos we teachers had to watch at faculty meetings last year (a co-worker of mine can do a deadly imitation of this woman, to our great amusement), everybody's got somebody they can "do." If you think there is no one out there who sounds enough like you for you to imitate them, or you think you have no impersonation just haven't met your vocal doppelganger yet.

My claim to fame in 1983, when I was around Ainsley's age, was that I could channel Tangina, the little medium played by the recently gone-to-the-light Zelda Rubinstein in Poltergeist. I spent most of the winter of my third grade year with a chronic sinus infection that temporarily altered my voice and gave it a tinny, nasal quality that made it perfect for imitating a Munchkin-voiced spiritual advisor.

"Cross over, children! All are welcome! All are welcome! Go into the light. There is peace and the light..."

When my sister invited her friends over to the house, I was often asked to come in and do the imitation. I guess they were easily amused.

Hubby is no exception to his familial gift. My favorite impersonation of his, and the one I think he does best, is Bill Clinton. But it's not just any Bill Clinton; it's Bill Clinton singing karaoke on Tim McGraw's and Faith Hill's "It's Your Love".

As so many good imitations happen, this one was by accident. We discovered Jason's talent one night playing the American Idol karaoke game. "It's Your Love" is one of the true duets in the game, which we all love because you can harmonize. I chose this for Jason and I to sing, and in trying to imitate Tim McGraw's country twag, he somehow came out with a lecherous Arkansas rasp instead. From the first line he had us cackling.

"Dancing in the daaaaaaark..."

If only I could have mastered a Hillary voice, we could have taken our show on the road during the 2008 election season.

The sad part of all this is that sometimes these spot-on impersonations have a very short life. They often arise by accident when you're not even trying; as soon as you start trying too hard to do them, they're not as good.

I stopped being able to go a good Tangina as soon as my infection cleared up and my voice went back to normal. Jason's Bill isn't quite as raspy and lecherous as it used to be. And even last night, when Ainsley did Hamster Dance, she knew it wasn't quite there.

"Wait! I didn't do that right. Let me try again..."

So sad. I dread the day when her cute little voice changes just enough that she no longer sounds like a hamster. But it was fun while it lasted, and if she's anything like Jason's family, this is just the first of many.

Do you have anyone you can "do"?

1 comment:

corycaleb said...

I've been told I do a pretty mean Cartman from South Park - I am not sure if that is a compliment :)