Tuesday, Jan. 8, 42 A.B.
Although I don't talk about it much anymore because it makes me feel so common, I actually began life as a child. In fact, it was while I was a child that I was raised on what I now recognize to have been an unhealthy mix of Hires root beer, stale sitcoms, and widespread urban unrest.
If it wasn't for the extra nutrition I gleaned from those 4th generation Xerox copies of Eric Severeid commentaries that my peers slipped to me in the cloakroom at school, I don't think I would have made it to puberty.
What made surviving worthwhile, of course, were those "Peanuts" TV specials with the melodies of Vince Guaraldi.
And the hope they inspired that someday I, too, would be an unseen adult capable of succinctly but completely expressing myself not in ungainly words but in the simple musicality of a muted trumpet, oboe, or bassoon.
When other boys were studying hard at the library in hopes of becoming the next Shakespeare or Thomas Paine and thrilling the world with their words, I was blowing forlornly across the tops of empty bottles in hopes of someday giving at least a few little folks a good wonk-wonk-wonking before retiring to a cozy spot far off-screen.
Yesterday was the day I finally realized it just isn't going to happen.
Although my wife and I sometimes abandon words for the simpler, truer pleasures of short, mood-expressing tones, our relatives and friends remain universally unappreciative of this alternative method of communication. They refuse to pass the butter until we substitute "Please" for wonking. They continue to tell the same old stories they've told a thousand times before despite our plaintive wah-wahings. And they invariably hang up on us when we answer the phone with even the most welcoming version of a tuba's middle C.
Yesterday I finally admitted defeat. I took my childish hopes for a better, less wordy world out back and shot them. I was 42, for crying out loud. It was the Eastern Orthodox Church's Christmas Day. After waiting so long, after realizing yet again that Santa ought to be bringing me presents on January 7th as well as December 25th, exactly what else could I do?
Not even the snowmen could stay my hand.
Truth be told, I've never seen so many snowmen before in my life!
Some background information: We got snow! About 2 inches fell on Sunday, and then about 2 more inches fell on Sunday. By the time we finally agreed to Jester's panicky demand that we go out and get enough cat food to last until spring, snowmen had materialized on the front lawns of almost every house in town. Snowmen and their families. Snowmen and their dogs. Snowmen and their snow forts. It was as if we'd accidentally driven onto the set of "If Frosty Came To Town Practicing The Rhythm Method."
Unbeknownst to Jester, we also stopped at OfficeMax to pick up enough file folders and dry erase markers to see us through until spring, too. That's where I glanced into the back seat of the car parked next to us and saw snowmen there as well! It was a stunning moment, and it threatened to bring back all my adolescent fears of that Abdominal Snowman which my first girlfriend assured me lived in the bowels of bad boys who didn't pay for both dinner and a movie. I think these back seat snowmen were actually made of styrofoam and not the end result of a suicide pact gone awry after someone accidentally connected a hose to the car's air conditioner instead of its exhaust pipe, but I didn't dare look closely enough to find out for sure - not when my sanity was at stake!
Instead, we drove home as fast as we could before the air in our tires could freeze and shatter like it did when we hit a bump in a dream I had last April.
Last night I dreamt about Soupy Sales instead ("Ok, Honey, quit nagging - we'll go! You warm up the car and I'll get Soupy Sales"). This morning I read in the paper that today's his 76th birthday.
And if THAT wasn't spooky enough... after I clipped this fact out of my newspaper and carried it to my office for framing, I turned it over and read the other side.
That's when I read THIS:
"Take Me Out To The Ball Game was written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer in 1908. Despite his heart-felt and oft sung plea, Von Tilzer didn't see his first baseball game until 20 years later. Norworth had to wait even longer as he didn't get to see his first game until 1940."
All of which just proves my point: Wonk-Wonk-WANK-Wonk-Wah!
Which is to say, "Life is simply too strange for words."
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(©Now by DJ Birtcher with a "Psycho-Snowman Identification Guide" in one hand and a loaded 1600-watt hair dryer in the other)