The Boyfriend of the Week

July 25, 2000

All kinds of weird things have been happening to me ever since I started planning to feature this week's Boyfriend, Harry Connick Jr. First, while I was listening to his album "We Are In Love" on the bus a few days ago and wishing I could play the trumpet (Big Band and Jazz always does that to me), I got all the way to the end of the line before I realized, uh, that I was all the way at the end of the line.

As I was getting off the bus and starting to hike back home, the second weird thing happened: I realized suddenly that the title of that particular album acronyms down (yes, I did just verb a noun) into "WAIL," which is strange for two reasons: first, it's what I did when I realized I was a good 20 minute walk from home (hey, it was hot!). And second, it's how I like to sing Harry Connick songs when I'm alone in my car. In fact, I think there's really no better place in the world to listen to Harry Connick Jr. and sing along. Because you can really WAIL that music, and it's music that moves you to it, and ain't nobody around to hear, dismiss, or cruelly mock you. Unless you have a passenger, of course. And who cares about them anyway?

But that's not where the weirdest ends. Nay! In fact, I just realized that wasn't where it started, either. See, a month or two ago, I decided to go on a road trip with my sister and her boyfriend. There we were, cruising along I-5, when what CD do you think they popped in? You got it! And if there's anything better than singing HCJ music alone in your car, it's singing it with my SISTER in the car. Because together, we make up the most hilariously bad duo in the world. And the best part is, we don't give a rip. I'm telling you people right now, you do not sing enough. I know you don't. And it's bad. Because there's nothing that feels as good as singing a great song at the top of your lungs. Nothing in the world.

I did say "a great song," however. Which is why HCJ rocks my world. (By the way, I'm pronouncing that "Hick-J," but you could also pronounce it "H-Cog" -- just don't go along reading it as the individual letters ("Ach-Cee-Jay") because that's boring and boring is not allowed at the web site). Now, while 'tis true I haven't actually heard EVERY song Hick J's sung, in fact, I bet nobody but the person who rides along with him in his car has actually heard EVERY song, but I will say I've made an active effort to hear most of them since I first discovered him way back when I was in 12th grade.

For those of you curious about when that was, here is this episode's "Figure Out Meg's Age (If You Dare)" equation:

First, start with a mole of years (I just lost a good 85% of you right there). Now, subtract 594,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years from that number. Take the answer and multiply it by 17. Add 1837. Your answer is the year I was born (unless you did the math incorrectly, in which case, it isn't). First person to email me with the answer (show your work!) wins a fabulous prize.

Oops, where was I?

Oh, right. So, I first discovered H-Cog back in high school. You see, one weekend I had to housesit for some neighbors (who, incidentally, had the scariest dog EVER, and yes, I AM counting Cujo) and, of course, to fill the time, I ransacked their son's bedroom (he was a friend of mine). Now, it took me awhile to find it, but I knew there just HAD to be something embarrassing in Ryan's room somewhere. And persistence paid off, for what should I find buried deep underneath his pile of "socially acceptable" CDs but a stack of (gasp) BIG BAND MUSIC, a great percentage of which featured either Harry Connick Jr's name or his face. Or both. Usually both.

Now, as a lifelong lover of all kinds of music, I was intrigued. Big Band music sounded like something old people listened to, but hey, this Harry guy sure is pretty cute so lessie what he's got. I popped in the CD and, kids, that was it for me. Five seconds into the first song on "We Are In Love" and where we really were was In Trouble.

I listened to that and "Red Light, Blue Light" about a hundred times that weekend (no, like, really!) and then I made a tape of it and two others and reburied the CDs and went home (honestly just thankful to be alive at that point -- I don't think that dog intended for me to be long in this world). Soon after, I packed up a bunch of stuff and went off to college on the other side of the country. But I forgot those tapes (and many others -- argh!) and never got around to replacing them.

So, imagine my surprise when my sister popped in "We Are In Love" (after first asking me if I'd rather listen to "Red Light, Blue Light" -- what, are those two albums joined at the hip or something?). If you are having trouble imagining my surprise, think of it this way: it was considerable. And happy. After the trip home, the first thing I did was log onto Ebay, track down someone selling a copy, and put in a bid.

Which is where the next weird thing occurred. Somehow, I actually managed to bid on TWO copies of that CD. And I won both bids. Did I berate myself for being so stupid? Did I shake my fist angrily in the air and curse the gods? No. I did what every girl in my position would do: I took it as a sign. "The Great Boyfriend Deity strikes again!" I cried. And then I sat back and waited for my two CDs to show up.

And now you can insert the weird bus thing here and we'll be all back to chronological.

But whooooooa there, cowboys. The strange things did not stop there. Because today I emailed my sister to ask her to tell me the story of the time she saw Hick-J perform live (at the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery -- can you imagine a better place for an outdoor Big Band concert?). It's a great story. Apparently, during the show a woman in the audience stood up and started to leave (perhaps just to go to the loo, I dunno). But was Harry going to stand for that? No way! He jumped off the stage and began to serenade her! Then when the song was over, he gave her a hug and a smooch (apparently, she survived this, though I can't imagine how she managed it -- I would've died in much the same way that cartoon characters do when anvils are dropped on their heads. First, the look of complete shock and amazement on the face, followed by a peaceful floating away into the sky with fancy wings and a harp I suddenly know how to play. Tweeting birds in the background.) (Lovely, really.).

Now, this is the kind of tale that turns a mild-mannered crush into a full-on adoration. Because you know what this story says to me? It says, not only does Harry Connick Jr. love to sing, he loves to sing TO US. For him, concerts aren't tedious and they aren't a forum for strutting. They're another opportunity to have an incredibly great time. Not just by dancing around the stage and singing, but by interacting with a huge group of people all there for the same reason (to have an incredibly great time). While I was jumping around from Hick-J fansite to Hick-J fansite, I read at least a dozen more stories just like this one. Harry loves us, you guys! We entertain him too! In fact, I bet he'd even be entertained if he heard my sister and me singing the entire soundtrack to "When Harry Met Sally." In harmony. BAD harmony. Because I get the impression that that's the kind of guy he is. Not only would he laugh and laugh and laugh (in delight, not in mockery), I bet he'd even tell us we were terrific.

And that's the recipe for makin' love.

Now, I'm sure you're aware that H-Cog is not JUST a singer. He's also a damn good actor as well. How do I know this? Because over the weekend, I had myself a little Harry Connick Jr. film festival. I rented: "Copycat," "Hope Floats," and "Excess Baggage." (I've already seen "Little Man Tate" a thousand times so I skipped it.) Now, of the three I rented, only "EB" was new to me, and I was a little disappointed to see he really didn't have much to work with there (and neither did future Boyfriend Benecio del Toro, though MAN did his hair look good). But Harry is fantastic in the other two, and it's especially amazing that he can do both cute Southern boy and deranged serial killer equally well. Don't you think? Speaks mountains about the boy's talent, which is good because this is getting a little long and I need to wrap it up!

A quick bio: Harry was born in 1967 (September) to two lawyers who owned a record store (I guess this means lawyers aren't ALL boring scumsuckers). This probably explains the source of Harry's love of music, something considered to be both nature AND nurture. According to one biography I read, he started playing the piano at three and by age six was so good he played at his father's swearing-in as the new New Orleans DA. I'm assuming what he performed was not chopsticks, although I think that would've been the perfect touch for an occasion like that. It's exactly what I would want at my own DA swearing-in, for example. And since I am the acme of hip. . .

By age ten, Harry had made his debut with a jazz band and studied piano with Ellis Marsalis and James Booker (so cool!). When Harry turned 18, he moved to New York and tried two different music schools before deciding school was for wussies (I'm making that up) and maybe it was time to hook up with the VP of Jazz at Columbia Records (who had told him once that he ought to look him up in a few years). The VP signed him and Harry's first album was released (self-titled). Critics loved him, people loved him, and, lucky for Harry, Rob Reiner loved him. In 1989, Rob asked Harry to contribute to the soundtrack of "When Harry Met Sally" and the success of the film ultimately led to Hick-J's first multi-platinum album.

And things have just gone up from there. Since that point, Harry has won about a zillion music awards, including a "Best Jazz Vocal Performance" Grammy (for "We Are In Love"); had one gold, three platinum, and four multi-platinum albums; and has performed a zillion sold-out concerts, wooing millions of fans worldwide.

Which brings us full-circle back to me. A wooed fan. Yet, alas, despite all my love for Harry, I do have to say it's highly unlikely we'll ever get together. You see, Hank's wife is a VICTORIA'S SECRET model. How can I compete with that? Especially since I can only assume that if Harry loves her, she must also be smart, sweet, and a good mom (he's got two kids too). The good news is, I'm not actually after a date with Harry Connick Jr. I'm actually only after a postcard (see? not even a two-way conversation!). So, get hot, Harry! Make yourself the first superstar to realize that Meg is a great gal (not the first Boyfriend, however -- don't forget Rodney Brooks, robot scientist!). You will be rewarded with renewed adoration on the part of all the zillions of people reading my web site each week (and telling me over and over they think it really sucks that nobody ever loves me back). Yahoo!

MacGyver Factor Score: 99.5%. I took (very few) points off just because I have to keep a few people at the top. But Harry is close, you guys. And I look forward to several more decades of watching him go.

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