Someone told me the other day, after hearing me scold the copier machine, that I should be on NPR.
That might, really, be the funniest thing anyone has ever said to me. So I laughed.
“No, really,” she said. “You have the right voice for it. ” She turned to the young woman who was sitting next to her for confirmation. “Can’t you just hear her telling stories on the radio?”
Please don’t misunderstand. Being on the radio is high up on my list of vocal fantasies (yes, there’s a list … and yes, it’s quite long). But really, because I said, “No, not now!” to the copier? That’s what it takes to qualify as having a voice for radio? Had I known this, I’d have auditioned years ago!
The subject of my voice comes up with surprising frequency. People are always exclaiming over my beautiful voice. I don’t hear it. On the phone I am often mistaken for a child. Telemarketers ask if my mother is home (and I tell them they’d have to call her house and find out). I am also mistaken for a white person, but that’s not about having a nice voice or a young voice, that’s about how people imagine all black people must speak. This comes in handy as a kind of easy pass/fail quiz I can give people to measure their PQ (prejudice quotient): When they meet me in person, do they exibit mild suprise and move on (pass) or do they completely freak out, going so far as to refuse to believe I can possiibly be the person they’ve been talking to on the phone (FAIL)?
I don’t hear what everyone else seems to hear in my voice. I hear a perfectly fine voice, pleasant enough, not grating, sometimes punctuated with what a friend once called an operatic laugh, nothing to get overly excited about. Except that people do get excited about it. A lot. A long-ago ex once told me that I had the perfect voice for porn. Yes, you read that correctly. He said I had a voice like Snow White, and it would be exciting to hear me saying all kinds of not-Snow-White things. Yeah, whatever. That is not on the list of vocal fantasies. Compared to Snow White porn, how would I not be thrilled to learn that I have a public radio voice?
So … NPR? PRI? And (obviously and specifically) Ira Glass? I’m ready for my close up.