At least a decade before I learned the technical meaning of onomatopoeia, I was doing it like speaking in tongues.. I loved the way certain words, certain names, rolled off my tongue. Brigitte Bardot and her bikini. Gina Lollobrigida. When I was five I recited their names like Dada poems. Then I learned about the possibilities of tone. I tried out cheesy foreign accents cadged from old movies on late night Saturday TV. I acquired layers of postmodern ironic imagery before I was 10 years old, and I didn’t even know what irony was.
Decades later it comes back to me when I look at the picture of Nathan Phillips and Jayne Mansfield. Not much onomatopoeia in Jayne Mansfield. But Gina Lollobrigida — how can you say that without breaking into belle canto arias like Luciano Pavarotti? So I wondered, how on earth did I know about Gina Lollobrigida in 1957?
Proust dipped his cookies in the tea and remembered everything. I search on YouTube. So here is what I found, a clip from the Academy-Award nominated film Fast and Sexy and a touching tribute montage set to songs by Gina. Did I know she could sing? Did you?