Back when I was a teenager and dinosaurs still walked the planet, I wanted a song named after me. My cousin, two weeks younger than me, was named Donna. She had a beautiful song named after her. I wished for the same thing. My Mom always said, “Be careful what you wish for.” I didn’t know it then but, Mom was right…
A little background, I am the oldest of four children in my Italian-Irish family. If I was a boy, my Dad wanted me to be named, Rocco, after him; kind of an Italian tradition. Since I was a girl, I was given the name, Roxanne. Close enough, right? But wait, Mom was smart. She knew she didn’t ever want to name her son, if she had one, Rocco; so she appeased my Dad by naming me Roxanne. Then, when I was a teenager and the threat of any more children being born had passed, she revealed that I was named for a character in the book, Cyrano de Bergerac. She thought the name was close enough to Rocco, to please my Dad, and she liked it too, so everyone was happy, at least until 1978.
In 1978, I got my “wish”. They named a song after me and it has haunted me…continually…every since.
Enter the Police and a man named ‘Sting’.
Roxanne. I heard it for the first time when I was 18 years old. I was working as a receptionist/proofreader at a small Data Graphics company. The typists and graphic design people in the back rooms always had a couple of radios on. Suddenly one day, all of the radios were turned up full blast…just for me…so I could hear my name blaring from them. They did this every:single:time that song came on and it came on a lot. As if that wasn’t enough, my co-workers would sing my name to me whenever they needed to talk to me or passed me in the hall. One day when I came back from lunch the inevitable happened. There on my desk was a red light. It was all in fun and I laughed along with them and left it there because, after all, it was just a song. It was popular, but how long could that last? Soon, it would just be a memory.
Funny thing about memories, sometimes they don’t actually fade from people’s minds. Sometimes they get kind of…stuck.
It took a very long time before I could hear my name without someone singing it. Years, in fact. Then, just when things started to settle down, in 1997 ‘Sting’ did a remix of the song with ‘Puff Daddy’ and it started all over again. Thankfully, it burned out a little more quickly the second time around; but not before I got a very special phone call. One I will never forget.
It was a solicitor, you know the type. Poor guy sitting there with a long call list saying the same thing over and over to people who don’t want to hear it. This guy must have been bored out of his mind. I answered the phone and heard him say, “May I please speak to…” Evidently, he hadn’t seen my name before he dialed my number. Suddenly, this solicitor began singing my name, but not just my name, he sang me the entire song. I have to admit, I thought this was pretty amusing! When the serenade was over, he ended with,
“Well, I guess you don’t want to hear my spiel after that.”
No, not really. But thank you, that was very entertaining.
One night, while Cliff was out of town and I was in the shower, I heard my children screaming for me. I jumped out of the shower, wrapped myself up in a towel, and ran down the steps. I was sure someone was either dead or couldn’t find the peanut butter. Nothing could prepare me for what I saw. There he was in my living room, on my television screen, singing that horrible song to my teenage children. Sting. I couldn’t believe it! Why wasn’t this man dead yet? My children were ecstatic. They’d never heard the song before, something for which I’d been very grateful. But now they knew…their mother had a song, a red light song, a song about a prostitute.
I considered writing a letter to ‘Sting’. I thought it would be nice if he paid royalties to all of the Roxanne’s that have had to deal with the aftermath of that song for all of these years but then, it’s really ‘not that big a deal’.