I was not having a good day.

Nothing catastrophic, just letting everything from bad drivers to people moving through the supermarket checkout at the speed of smell get under my skin. I needed some musical therapy, STAT.

But the tunes I craved were encased in cheesy goodness that was mocked by much of the world at large.

But I didn’t care.

I whipped out those CDs (yes, CDs…the things that you now use for drink coasters), cranked up the volume and proceeded to get my groove on to…

Barry Manilow.

(To all who just hit the “unsubscribe” button, thanks for being here. It was nice having you.)

I’ve always been a die-hard rock fan. As an 80s teen I lived for VanHalen and AC/DC. The 90s filled my 20-something ears with the sounds of Pearl Jam and Nirvana. And even though somewhere around 2005 I lost the ability to recall any band more current than Foo Fighters, I am still a lover of anything heavy on guitar and drums and mercifully short on synthesizers.

So, how exactly did this musical Velveeta make its way into my repertoire?

I blame my mother.

During my formative years in the early 70s, Barry was just coming on the scene…and Mom LOVED him. And since she was the family entertainment director, I was indoctrinated into his song stylings early on. Not only did I know all the lyrics to “Copacabana” but I could – and often did – act out all the parts in the saga of Lola the showgirl and her doomed love triangle with some idiot bartender and a diamond-wearing guy named Rico. (This is another one of those “Thank you, Jesus, that I grew up before the Internet” moments.)

Flash forward forty (!!) years, and I’m pulling into the Starbucks drive-thru with “I Write The Songs” blaring. As my car approached the window full of teenage baristas, I suddenly felt the urge to turn the song off, or switch over to a station that plays what I’m guessing passes for cool music today. (I figure if I can’t pronounce the artist’s name or it sounds like it’s being sung by a robot, then I’m probably good.)

But then I decided that I was going to have my Manilow moment AND my decaf latte, dammit. And no amount of public ridicule was going to stop me.

Because, really…who cares if what you like isn’t supposedly cool?

In my book, the more you own your own preferences, the cooler you are. Or more importantly, the happier you are. Because when you leave this planet someday, no one will be holding up scorecards rating the hip quotient of your playlist. Or anything else, for that matter.

So, when I finally made my way to the front of the drive-thru line and rolled down my window, the barista’s face lit up.

“OMG. That was my grandma’s favorite song!!”

Let your cheese flag fly, people. You may be surprised who salutes it.