What I Really Want for my Big Birthday

My son and daughter and husband are already conspiring to make my very big upcoming birthday – NOT UNTIL MAY please note- very special. I am playing along with it, especially because I like big celebrations of all sorts, and especially ones that involve me. I have spoken before in my blog about being deprived of birthday parties growing up where my birthday was almost a non-event. The world didn’t revolve around me then, though I wanted it to.

We have even been checking out the possibility of a dance party, but it gets ridiculous as soon as you involve a real band. (Maybe we can get John Fogerty through a friend as a favor?)

I have been throwing out gift ideas, or ways to make it more special – giving lots of hints. I am just playing with my family most of the time though, even if there is the tiniest sliver of seriousness to my requests. (We again refer back to the birthday deprived little girl.)

For example, I thought I was going to request a flash mob just to be funny. But that trend is so last year.  I changed my mind after I saw this hilarious Lip Dub by these frat boys. A friend just had her 60th with a hilarious video of her life, and it was so clever, no one could possibly top it. So I thought I would like a Lip Dub instead of a life video. Lip Dubs, if done properly, are the best thing ever.

But after listening to an oldies station on iHeart radio during many long bike rides, and hearing dozens of oldies with girl’s names in them, I remembered growing up and wishing my name was anything but Arlene. Since I adored music and pop songs, I wanted to be Hey Hey Paula. I wished I was Barbara Ann or Rhonda when I heard the Beach Boys. I wanted to be Judy (Beatles and others) or Eleanor (Beatles and Turtles) or Maryann (Four Seasons) or Carrrie-anne (Hollies) or Susan, or just about any girl’s name other than Arlene. I wanted a burning love song with MY name, not Layla’s or Michele’s.

For goodness sake, even Billie Jean, Brandy, and Cherry – unusual names – had songs with them in the title. For someone who was just passionate about music and the feelings that songs elicited, this was a major letdown. I mean, seriously, who was going to put Arlene into a love song?

In fact, the only thing famous about my name growing up was this old lady on TV – What’s My Line, named Arlene Francis. That was downright embarrassing because it appeared I had an old lady name. No wonder there wouldn’t be any doo wop or love songs using my name.

For a while I longed for a boyfriend that would write a love song to me. That didn’t happen, although my first boyfriend was a prolific love letter writer.

When Come On Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners became popular, I would substitute my name, and sing Come On Arlene. Pretty soon, I had my friends doing that to humor me.

I was aware of the thousands and thousands of songs with women’s names, and was confident that absolutely zero of them had the name Arlene. Sure there was Eileen, Darlene (Led Zeppelin) and Jolene (Dolly Parton) but no Arlene. (Side note: this guy that used to have a crush on me called me Darlene on purpose which annoyed me until he explained he did that because I was Darling Arlene or Darlene. Since it seemed sweet, I forgave him.)

Doing a blog or having an idea requires research, so when I decided to fact check I came up with this awesome site. It’s a song facts website that lists every song with a woman’s name in it. (Look up your name here! Go to Categories, Women’s Name in Song Titles) Granted some are obscure, but they are all there.

And yes, unbelievably, neatly filed with the A’s, there is a song “Arlene” by Crystal Bowersox – of American Idol Fame. She wrote it for her tour bus driver named Arlene. The chorus is pretty with lots of Arlene’s – but then again she’s singing “Diesel’s humming Arlene.” Not exactly a love song, but you can hear it here on YouTube. Not exactly me, either! I am the opposite of a female truck driver.

An astute reader came up with this Country Gem from Marty Stuart called Arlene in 1985. Wrong twice.

So yep, that’s what I want for my big birthday. I want my semi-musical, guitar playing,  but way out of practice husband to write me a love song called Arlene – including lyrics! I am challenging him publicly so he can’t back out. He’s got months and months to pull it off and on the last big birthday he did well with a beautiful speech. Who knows, maybe it will even be a hit! (Hint Gary, make it catchy, not a slow, sleepy number!)

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