…Marceline Pârfait could barely contain her joy, as she drove her 2016 Corvette, north toward Napa Valley, California. After graduating from Agerstone College in the Class of 2020, with a Master’s Degree in Biology, her life was shaping up in prodigious ways. Summer’s placid breezes and sounds of the engine at speed could not silence several songs of American liberation, racking her memory. Recalled passages of those songs became stronger and louder, as she hummed them in a sotto voice. The stirring melodies intrigued Sarah, Marceline’s college mate and best friend, who curiously glanced up from her magazine.
“What are you up to Marceline; trying to corner the patriotic ditty market?”
“Just a few lines of exultation and joy, expressing my total release from college life, if you don’t mind.”
Sarah then replied, “Well, try to stay in tune; I’ll chime in whenever I can.”
“No need Sarah I can do a single, here with the car’s rumble, wind and all.”
Then, feeling a bit braver, Marceline, sang a few more lines, she remembered from past Fourth of July celebrations: Thomas A‘Becket’s, "My country, 'tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Liberty, Of thee I sing!"
Then, she sang Katharine Lee’s, "O beautiful for spacious skies./For amber waves of grain./For purple mountain majesties./Above the fruited plain!"
Then she finished off her medley, and again caught Sarah’s attention with, David Shaw’s "O Columbia, the gem of the ocean./The home of the brave and the free./The shrine of each patriot's devotion./A world offers homage to thee."
Once she got the lyrics straight, Marceline started singing all the lines she could remember, one after another. Her renditions were nothing special but Sarah, her passenger, with a Master’s Degree in Stage Play Production and Cinema Arts, took notice.
As an excellent songstress with perfect pitch, she recognized each melody and sang along with Marceline to keep her in tune. Gradually, the songs gained their own strength and became louder, which prompted Sarah in her curiosity to say, “Are we harmonizing only patriotic songs and other oldies today, Marceline?”
“Well, I’m not whistling Dixie, Sarah.”
“I formally acknowledge that, Marceline; you, a dyed-in-the-wool New York Yankee in King California’s Court, but my first question is; pourquoi (lit. trans. Fr.: why?)”
“I guess because for the first time in five years, I am completely free, Sarah.”
“Freedom is one thing, Marceline but you don’t need to make a Wagnerian opera out of it.”
“I agree with you Marceline, but I don’t understand what you just said. However; as far as I can see, this summer is about to burst forth for me as well, Marceline; do you mind if this Vermont Yankee joins you.”
“At the waist, or in a two-girl song fest, Sarah, ha, ha?”
“Funny girl; I’d like to just sing along, Marceline.”
“Okay Sarah; but I if I get silly, just consider it an expression of my release from ‘liberal’ intellectual prison. We’ve been cooped up too long; now it’s time to fly!”
“I agree, Marceline; but let’s not get arrested for disturbing the peace.”
Then they began to sing each song, piecing together bits they remembered and reinforcing memory with the magic of reflection and repetition. As they, both sang louder and louder they became more accustomed to the words and melodies with each chorus.
The air around the Corvette, trying hard to keep up with their enthusiasm, reverberated with the two girl’s sonic joy. Marceline even tried to match Sarah’s powerful semi-professional delivery by singing in an ever more expressive tone.
And when they caught their breaths and laughed so hard, they almost, choked and had to settle down several times to recompose themselves and start again.
Toward the end of their self-performances, on an empty stretch of California’s Route 128, Marceline signaled to pass a large oil tanker truck, the driver acknowledged her request by blinking his brake lights and slowing his huge Cummings Diesel engine down to let them pass.
As they roared by in full song, the truck driver smiled at the two ingénues and gave them a big ‘thumbs-up.’ Because his engine was on idle, he could hear Sarah and Marceline singing and even picked up one of their tunes.
Then as they got about a hundred feet in front of him, he blasted his air horns. Even with their singing at the top of their lungs, the air horns were more than startling. Each girl gave the trucker a big ‘thumbs-up’ in return, and then they laughed themselves silly.
Marceline almost breathless and tuckered out then, asked Sarah, “Can you unwrap a throat lozenge for me, Sarah? They’re in the glove box, and have one yourself if you need it...”
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