I sometimes like to play little mind games with myself. I have a busy brain and it gets irritable when not fed, watered, and played with on a regular basis. So to shut it up on occasion I try to fool it, or outsmart it, or occupy it with something until I have some other cranium-filling task to do. If it is bugging me, I want to figure out why, and what it needs to return to stasis or at least not best me on a regular basis.

Today's Stupid Mind Game was attempting to sing along to Nat King Cole's "Mona Lisa," playing on my iTouch as I finished putting on my makeup for the day in the bathroom. It is not notable for me or anyone else to sing along to some music, of course, that is pretty normal. What irritated me today was once again realizing that I cannot, absolutely cannot, sing this song without crying. What the hell is that?? This is unacceptable, and there is no reason I can think of that justifies this strange response to a piece of music, written and recorded in 1950, well before I was even born. It's not really my style of preferred music, although I do love the song and its gorgeous melody.

So. Hmm. I try to break down the components to this. It is not the melancholy lyrics, I think. I even try to sing and substitute my own dummy lyrics:

Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa, see this turkey
All these wild turkeys stupid on the road
Is it only cause they're dummies they are roadkill?
For they cannot judge the speed to cross the road?

No luck. I still get a massive lump in my throat and tears fill my eyes. Dammit!

It is not because I am under some amount of stress. This has been my response to this song as long as I can recall, even when I was very little. Is it Nat King Cole's rich and beautiful voice? No, I can listen to all his other songs without becoming a weepy baby. It is the sweeping symphonic arrangement? I don't think so; I don't as a rule get all emotional over violins. I find them more irritating and cheesy, really.

The hell. I want an answer for this, and I want to BEAT IT!

Alright, I say to myself, you are gonna sing this song. DO IT, YOU BABY! I steel myself as the last verse comes around:

Do you smile to tempt a lover, Mona Lisa?
Or is this your way to hide a broken heart?
Many dreams have been brought to your doorstep
They just lie there and they die there
Are you warm, are you real, Mona Lisa?
Or just a cold and lonely lovely work of art?

Oh, this is pathetic. It is not hard for me to sing the notes; that is not it. I can easily sing this except for the lowest note in the song. But as I try to make my way through the verse, not at all focusing on the lyrics, just trying to push the notes out clean, I start faltering and wavering. Lump, blinking eyes. DAMMIT. GRR.

Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa

With those last words of the song, the title repeated twice, I choke completely and cannot finish the notes. I did not win; Brain did.

Or maybe Brain doesn't have anything to do with it either. Maybe it is the heart, in response to the simple, soaring melody itself, pushing some internal response that doesn't have any logic or reason to it. It just is.

Well, if I keep playing this game, I am never going to be able to get my mascara on, so I let the song finish, wipe my eyes with my fingers, swallow hard a few times, and shake my head and smile at myself. You big silly.