We're just glad she didn't sing in turn, 'I Love Parris'

January 20, 1995|By MIKE LITTWIN

Let's say you've been elected governor (no, not you, Ellen). And you've got this big speech to give. And you want to show your human side since you're perceived as being, well, a little stiff. In fact, compared to you, Al Gore is almost lifelike.

So you're governor (meaning, Ellen, you got more votes than your opponent) and it's Inauguration Day and you come up with this nifty idea.

You'll bring your wife up on stage with you and serenade her. There was Romeo. There was Cyrano. There's Parris?

Turns out, there are a few minor problems. First of all, you don't sing. You don't even talk that well. And the only singer available is a woman who insists she won't perform unless you allow her to dress up in a National Guard uniform.

Even worse, the only song she knows is "The Wind Beneath My Wings," which she usually performs with a marching band.

That's one scenario.

The other, less kind, scenario is that Parris "Funky White Boy" Glendening actually grooves on that music. Meaning -- and this was always our fear -- that the new governor is a dweeb.

The old governor was, of course, a goof.

Have we made any progress?

Let's put aside the issue of the song for a minute -- I know, it's stuck in my head, too, and we can only be thankful he didn't choose "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" -- and address the concept itself.

To be honest, when I first turned on the TV, I thought I was watching either an old tape of Frances Anne Glendening's 40th-birthday party or the long-awaited reprise of the "The Gong Show."

Look, like many men, I'm not afraid of public displays of affection. For example, at work I keep a picture of my wife and me, taken on some romantic shore. You should see us. I believe I'm reading to her selections from The Sporting News. So, yeah, I'm in touch with my feminine side.

And still, I have the feeling that this particular public display was a tiny bit hokey.

No. Actually, it was a lot hokey. You can also throw in mawkish, which is a word I particularly enjoy throwing in on such occasions.

Frances Anne cried. So did I. And I think for the same reason.

You know Glendening is a guy who never forgets an anniversary, never forgets a birthday, never forgets anything -- because he's got his calendars cross-referenced. But, when it comes time to buy the gift, he never finds exactly the right thing.

That's what happened here. The governor wanted to do something cool, and instead it turned out looking like a scene from the worst wedding you ever attended. Here you have these two uptight people swaying to the, ummm, music, while everybody watching wants to turn away -- but can't.

This isn't the old train-wreck syndrome. It's the old nudge-your-neighbor-and-say-gawd-Marge-you-gotta-see-this 8 syndrome.

Nobody soared like an eagle.

What I'm saying is, even if Glendening had picked a better song -- "Brown Eyed Girl" or maybe "Start Me Up" -- it still wouldn't have worked.

And, of course, he wouldn't have picked a better song.

What is it with our politicians? Here we are, 40-odd years into what Casey Kasem calls the rock-and-roll era, and nobody who's ever been elected to any major office can tell you who sang "Cool Jerk."

Let's look at the White House. Bill Clinton is the first rock-era president. He picks the pop epic "Don't Stop" as his campaign theme song when he had the chance to get funky with "We Will Rock You" or some other song where you can actually hear the drummer.

Politicians don't get funky. Clinton's favorite performer is Kenny G, who is to the sax what Michael Bolton is to rhythm and blues. (And Michael Bolton is to R&B what Bill Clinton is to Franklin Roosevelt.)

The person I felt most sorry for at the inauguration was Raymond Glendening, the 15-year-old son of the governor who had to watch the serenading and may in fact be subjected to the same kind of music at home. And you know what he's going to be subjected to at school: "Don't you know you are my hero-o-o-o-o?"

The thing is, you know that he's probably deeply into Megadeth. Which, strangely, I find comforting.

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