Ah, that woman. I went steady with her for years. She resided in the record cabinet in our living room when I was a kid and was and may still be the Definitive Unattainable Gorgeous Babe (DUGB). Her picture on the album cover is more than twice life-size, so when I'd hold her in my hands she was really in my face. I'm not ashamed to admit I may have even kissed her. Cardboardy, if memory serves.
When I visited her again this Thanksgiving it was nice to see that she hasn't aged much at all. She's still got that je ne sais wow; enough of it in fact, that I figured she deserved a ride home with me. Viv doesn't seem to mind, mostly because I haven't yet broken the news to her that there's this other woman living in my office now.
Please don't tell her.
I rescued the DUGB and some of her companions who have been sitting in the dark and lonely cold of my parents' garage ever since their record player broke, back before disco was king. I couldn't just let them stay there all squished up against each other on top of my old model train layout, so I picked out a few of my favorites to give whatsername some company.
Here are just a few of them:
Woody Woodbury was a piano bar comedian known for his risqué humor. At some point during just about every party we had at our house my father would throw this onto the record player and go make some more highballs. I'd memorized Woody's routines by the time I was six but I was way too young to get the jokes. Once I got old enough to get 'em, I was sent out of the room. Alas, too late. No wonder I'm so morally corrupt. Pee-pee poo-poo!
At some other point during just about every party we had, this record would get thrown on. The Kirby Stone Four were guys who sang great harmony and had a quasi-hit with the song "Baubles, Bangles And Beads," a peppy little number, a killer song actually, and perfect for swing dancing. My dad, who was a very good dancer, would invariably be persuaded to take a few spins with my Aunt Virgie and the rest of us would stand around in awe of their skills.
Me, I foxtrot like Gomer Pyle.
Eventually, after more dancing and more highballs, this record came out. "The Contest: Lord Windsmear from Whopping Farthole, England vs. Paul Boomer from Breaking Wind, Australia." Woo hoo. Suburban California in the 1960's, cinderblock walls, sunny skies, bourbon, barbecues, lawnmowers, and this record. Is it any wonder we are the planet's last remaining superpower?
I'm not sure why I'm mentioning all this, though it may have something to do with coming out of the funk of a family Thanksgiving. I guess I'm trying to find the realities of the past, literally searching for the records that might help me to make some sense of it all, spark some clear recollection that isn't filtered through denial or dream or someone else's memory made fuzzy with booze. Introspection's curse lies in its lack of definitive answers, especially when they are buried in the memory of childhood when events either splash out in primary colors or are seemingly lost in grey fog forever.
Can you tell I'm sick? I've got a horrendous cold, and that's really the main thing that's got me down. Amy had it first and now we're both staggering around the house, gurgling and dripping. I'm taking a little ride on the medication train here and that helps to account for the weird brain.
In the best of all possible worlds I'd be all better by this weekend so I could motor down to Indio for the International Tamale Festival. It would be sad to miss a celebration of one of my favorite foods. Sounds like a good place to take a camera, too. But at this current rate of mucous flow, I don't think so.
I'll probably just stay home and stare at the records, try to remember what it was like way back when, and gently begin that ever-steepening spiral into melancholy fueled by a blend of old hurts and dextromethorphan.
To be honest though, I think the best medicine would be a plate full of serious made-with-old-Mexican-lady-hands tamales.
Here's my keys. You drive.
"Music To Watch Girls By" -- Les & Larry Elgart -- LES & LARRY ELGARTS GREATEST HITS
"In memory everything seems to happen to music."
- Tennessee Williams (The Glass Menagerie)