by Geno Gruber
Over the years, Ma has had plenty of my uncles come stay with us. I know they not really my uncles, but I don’t argue with her ‘bout it. Mostly they just keep me at a distance and that is just fine with me. I got close to a couple of them when I was younger, but Ma always ends up fightin with um and they stop comin around. I hated ma for that.
I mostly stayed in my room. I listened to music. I loved to sing.
Ma stopped callin them my uncles. Bob, Ma’s latest companion showed me lots of attention. I was not used to it. I told him I just wanted to be let alone but he said he wanted to listen to me sing. He said I could be a star.
I always did want to be a star, on the stage singing my heart out. I always loved to sing. But I never felt that people would like me. Most of Ma’s boyfriends would holler at me to shut up. So I would.
Bob liked for me to sing to him while I sat on his lap. I loved to have an audience.
He was so nice to me but he made me feel creepy. I felt bad for feeling the way I did.
Ma was never home much in the day. She worked. Bob got laid off from the mill and was home most days when I came home from school. He always said I was so pretty with my long blond hair.
Ma Flipped out and went all crazy one day after catching me singing to Bob. She said it was my fault Bob did not pay her much attention anymore and she started to cut off my hair.
I ran out of the house and hid in o’l man Tuckers barn. A few hours after the sun fell, I snuck in, gathered up some of my things, emptied Ma’s purse and headed up north to Chicago.
The day I got there is the day I got Snickers. There was a little girl giving away kittens and snapping Polaroid’s of the adoptive parents. I named her Snickers because of her colors.
Snickers was hiding in my bag when I auditioned for the WCFL talent show. That’s where I got my start. I was broke and WCFL was offering $100 to the winner of their talent show.
It is amazing to me to think back. I never thought anyone would like my singing. I know Bob had other motives. But to survive, I had to do something for money. A chance at $100 was enough to motivate me.
Singing was all I knew how to do. I never thought that day would lead to 17 Platinum records 23 Gold and 3 Grammys.
I don’t know if I regret more that I never went home to make up with Ma or if I am disappointed that Ma never came to make up with me.
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