Name that tune
When my parents lovingly chose my name, they had no idea it would cause total strangers to burst into song.
When I meet a new man (only males behave in this manner), he will arch an eyebrow, smile sexily, fix me with an intent stare and sing: “Mary Lou, I love you. Cross my heart, yes I do.”
A young man warbles the rock version of “Mary Lou” spawned in the ’60s. Same arched eyebrow, though, same intimate gaze. I stand mute with a fatuous smirk on my face (What exactly am I supposed to do?) I cast my eyes down and try to appear flattered by the one-hundredth rendering of “my” song.
With about sixty melodies celebrating female names, I imagine that women all over America experience the same scenario. Have Amy, Irene, Linda, Louise or Nancy found an effective response to these crooning males?
Hardly a feminine name escapes being put to music. Naturally, a musical called Rose Marie or Roberta will have a title song about the heroine.
Tin Pan Alley writers must use the same list of names that parents do. They have penned songs to Loraine, Mary, Sue, Bette, Jeannie, Peg, Mary Ann, Laura, Gloria, Dinah, Maria Elena, Clementine, etc.
Songwriters, mostly men, do not wax lyrical about masculine sobriquets. Of the dozen songs that use men’s names, few rhapsodize about their beauty or mourn their loss.
“Elmer’s Tune,” “Danny Boy” or “Joey” have no romance. “Oh, Johnny” describes the man in a humorous way but also emphasizes Johnny’s homeliness.
For future parents, consider giving your daughter an unusual name, one that by no stretch of musical ability can be rhymed into a saccharine couplet. How about Mehitabel, Adrianna, Heliotrope, Honoria, Jessica or Jezebel?
And for any males who might possibly read these words, please don’t give me your interpretation of “Mary Lou” upon being introduced to me.
Believe me, I am not the girl in the song.
Mary Lu Leon lives in Grass Valley.
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