For Barbra Streisand, it would seem there isn’t a lot of world left to conquer. After all, you’re a legendary star of stage and screen. You’ve won every award going, including the coveted EGOT (although it’s more like EEGGGGGGGGGGOOT, if you know what I mean; I think I got all the Grammys in there.) She’s been married for 18 years to James Brolin, a tall and ruggedly handsome man with his own money. And, by her own admission, she is mostly content to simply hang at her picture-perfect Malibu estate, obsess over her rose garden (Barbra, as we know, is famously attentive to detail), and look for the right burgundy Aubusson rug for the upstairs library.
Yet, it seems that there is one last crusade Streisand can’t keep herself from embarking upon—one final mile to go before she sleeps, or at least retires comfortably to her ocean view screening room with a generous helping of coffee-flavored frozen yogurt from the Snack Shoppe at her underground mall. I’m not talking about her recent concert tour, which I’m still bitter with myself for being too cheap to buy a ticket for when I had the chance, because what is $619 really in the greater scheme of the universe? After all she’s done for you, after all she’s given you over the past 50 years, after she’s made you feel OK about your nose and your accent and your Jewishness, Barbra Streisand would really like you to pronounce her name correctly.
You see, Barbra—as I would frame in a more clever way if I could muster up the glitzy homosexual energy to do so, but right now I’m wearing overalls and have a stomach ache from the chicken salad that’s been in the fridge for just a day too long—suffers from the inverse of the problem so eloquently described by Liza Minnelli in her song “Liza With a Z,” in which case people are forever pronouncing her name “Lisa” with an S. (And before you get all smart with me and say, “But Rachel, Barbra doesn’t have an S; it doesn’t even have a second A,” just be quiet and read the next sentence.) You see, Streisand is pronounced with an S, as in Strei-SAND, and not Strei-ZAND, as many of you out there, even people who purport to love Barbra and know all the alternative lyrics to “Putting It Together” Sondheim wrote especially for The Broadway Album, have been pronouncing it all these years. She announced in on stage in Brooklyn and everything.
But don’t worry. Barbra doesn’t blame you. You’re surrounded by bad examples, first and foremost, Siri, the Apple robot you might speak to say things like: “Siri, what is Barbra Streisand’s birthday?” or “Siri, what is Barbra Streisand’s address?” or “Siri, has Barbra Streisand ever expressed a wish to adopt an adult child?” You see, Siri apparently pronounces it wrong, and if a robot can’t get it right, what hope can there be for the rest of us? That’s why Barbra, indomitable as always, took it upon herself to call Tim Cook, the head of Apple, to get the pronunciation changed, so generations of future Streisand fans won’t have to suffer as we did.
And of course she did. That’s attention to detail.