It's 3 in the afternoon and I'm drunk. Yeah, drunk. It's a disgrace. So sue me.
Now, to understand why I'm drunk, I need you to do me a favor. Put down this newspaper and go to your local music store and buy a copy of Mabel Mercer Sings Cole Porter. (You may have to go to a couple stores to find this. Take your time. I'll wait.)
Back so soon? OK, now put in the CD and punch track 9, 'Looking at You.'
It's a great song, isn't it? All about falling in love with someone for no other reason than you like the way she looks. But, ooooh, how she looks.
Did you manage to get through the song without reaching for a gin and tonic and doing a Google search on your first girlfriend? Well, don't you have self control?
So, let's try this. Go back to the record store and buy Frank Sinatra: Live in Paris. You heard me, sister! Do it!
Listen to the entire CD. It should take about an hour. But what an hour! All that unrequited love stuffed onto a metal disc that can only be read with a glass eye. Doesn't seem right, does it? You need a drink, don't you?
By this point you should be sufficiently tipsy and lovesick to understand my situation. (If not, I have no choice but to pull out the big guns. Put on anything by Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, or Billie Holiday. But don't over do it. I don't want to be responsible for you melting into a puddle.)
You're in love now, aren't you? You may not be quite sure who you're in love with, though. Maybe you're in love with a feeling, or a ghost, or some woman you passed in the street several years ago. It doesn't really matter.
The point is that you have been manipulated. Before you listened to this music you were a rational human being. Now you are a mess. And you need to kiss somebody—anybody—in the worst way.
Music is the most dangerous weapon known to mankind. When music falls into the wrong hands—as it often does—it can cloud perceptions and destroy lives with false hope. And what goes down better with false hope than a cool martini and an ill-fated love affair?
Look at the damage popular music has inflicted. Check out the names of the singers listed in this column. They're all dead. You try singing 'Comes Love' every night for 10 years and see if you don't become a heroin addict.
As for me, I'm still alive. But barely. I made the mistake of listening to a Betty Carter album this morning. I thought I could handle it. After all, I was alone, so there was no danger of stumbling into a music-induced love affair. But by the time she started singing 'In the Still of the Night,' I began to swoon. So I headed to the bar to prop myself up with a mimosa. Before I knew it, I had gone through Ella's entire Songbook series and half a bottle of vodka. Now I'm well into Nina Simone, and as I pour myself a shot of rubbing alcohol and croon along to 'Isn't It Romantic,' I eye my cat seductively and wonder if she's a good kisser.