I planned to write a post this last weekend about why I still believe in God, even after flunking out of Sunday school, as I promised. Instead, I spent the weekend wondering how I had offended God–maybe he’s still a little touchy about that book I returned to the Sunday school library 19 years after checking it out–and wondering if he would stop the barfing, retching, and fever if I made him an offering that he couldn’t refuse.
Maybe he would make it all stop if I wired the contents of my retirement fund to the collection plate of my local church? Or even just stop the barfing? Is that too much to ask?
And I didn’t even have the worst of it–Mama did. But, being a guy, I did complain about it the most–I have to show 3B how we guys do these things, after all. Mom always loved it when I got to the moaning stage of any illness–that point at which the discomfort got to the point where I would start a low, rhythmic existential moan of agony, just to let the universe, my inner Buddha, and everyone in the house know that I get it: life is pain. Lesson learned. And now I’m going to share it with everyone. At that point, Mom would come back to my room, smile and politely inquire just what the hell I was doing and when, in the next 10 seconds, I planned to stop doing it. As a boy with a bellyache speaking to a woman who had borne six children, including me, I never had a comeback for her.
Mama had about the same reaction to my moaning, although she was much nicer about it than Mom. I think that Mama gave me 30 seconds, after which she would put a sock in my piehole, or something to that effect. I kid, of course. Except not really. Well, maybe a little. But no.
It all started on Friday night, when I called to let Mama know I was on my way home. She whispered, “I’m feeding 3B, and I’m so nauseous, I’m not sure how long I’ll last.” So I swooped home, scooped up 3B, let Mama shuffle off to bed, got 3B bathed and in bed, and then settled in for the night myself, figuring that I’d need to be well rested for a weekend of nursing Mama. By Saturday morning, she had rid herself–painfully–of whatever was ailing her and so was feeling better in that relative sense. As in, “compared to last night, when I tried to barf my tonsils into the toilet, I’m feeling better.” I, on the other hand, had been fighting off the inevitable since about 2 a.m. on Saturday, when I woke up with a knot in my stomach that quickly became several knots, and then a whole seaman’s convention of rope art for the rest of the day. I ended up lying in bed, watching DVDs to comfort and distract me–All the President’s Men, if you must know, because I’m geeky like that and I couldn’t find Lawrence of Arabia.
By Sunday morning I felt as though my back had been beaten with a broomstick and my belly with a bag full of oranges, and Mama wasn’t doing much better, but we were both able to function somewhat. Fortunately, we had managed to stay on opposite ends of the sickness see-saw all weekend–one going down while the other went up–so we were able to take care of 3B. And by “take care of” I mean, of course, “lay on the couch and stay awake and not barf and hope that he didn’t hurt himself or crawl out of sight.” If only we could train Barky to fetch 3B.
Eventually, it all did subside, and I was able to stand upright and shuffle through the doors of work on Monday morning. Some great reward for getting better. As I sat there, sipping soda and water and nibbling on crackers, I cranked up my music to block out most of the cube farm world around me. What the music brought to mind, however, was Vampdaddy’s recent tagging of me. Because there is perhaps nothing that I do better than equivocate, I was having much the same debate that Vampdaddy did . . .
So how do I do this? Should I go for the three all-time favorites, or faves of the moment? Should I go with the three that have the most personal meaning, or the three that amuse me? Perhaps I should go with tried and true answers that my friends will not be surprised by — or perhaps I should pick something obscure to everyone in an attempt to raise my “cool-music quotient”. Perhaps I should list three tacky songs in protest of the idea of having three favorites . . .
I did come up with a list, however, of my absolute most favoritest songs ever. My BFF from my music library, if you will. And if you don’t like them, wait five minutes, and I’ll have another list.
Wandrin‘ Star-Paint Your Wagon (from the movie soundtrack, sung by Lee Marvin)
“Snow can burn your eyes out, but only people make you cry.”
I can lose my wallet, my keys, my car, but none of those will make me cry. I will miss every friend I’ve ever lost for the rest of my days. Sometimes the weight gets to be so much that I just have to walk, as if I could walk out from under the weight that I bear with me. I can’t, of course, but moving makes it feel better. So it is, perhaps, that the losses I mourn have caused me to keep wandrin‘ through my life, causing me to lose more friends with each move.
And if that’s not enough to get you down, watch Paint Your Wagon; hearing Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood sing should be enough to get you crying.
Heaven-The Talking Heads (but only the live version, from Stop Making Sense)
“Everyone is trying to get to the bar, the name of the bar, the bar is called Heaven.
The band in Heaven, they play my favorite song. Play it one more time, play it all night long. . . .
There is a party. Everyone is there. Everyone will leave at exactly the same time. . . .
When this kiss is over, it will start again. . . .
It’s hard to imagine that nothing at all could be so exciting, could be this much fun.”
Heaven would be a night in the New Varsity Theatre with every one of my friends, dancing to Stop Making Sense, a concert by a band that plays my favorite song, plays it every time, plays it all night long.
Highway Patrolman-Bruce Springsteen
“When it’s your brother sometimes you look the other way . . . nothin‘ feels better than blood on blood.”
Some 21 years ago, after my father had died, I had a few friends that got me through what remain, to this day, the darkest days of my life. They made sure that I laughed, that I wasn’t often alone, that I didn’t drink or smoke too much, and that I had some company when, late at night, I would hop the fence and wander through the cemetery to visit Dad’s grave. This deepened my profound love and affection for my two best friends, one of whom took me over to his house in the middle of a school day, put on this song, lay across his huge bed with me and comforted me while I cried. Then, as now, it wasn’t easy for me to cry, so every tear was a chore and a balm. And now, after having just listened to this song again, I need a little mood pickup, which comes, as it did then, in the form of a song that my other best friend introduced me to: Starship Trooper (Yes, from Yessongs), about which I have two things to say: Rick. Wakeman.
And yes, that’s four songs. You’ll just have to live with your disappointment.
Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows
Speaking of four songs, or more songs, I had to leave out any Dylan songs, like Forever Young, Knockin‘ on Heaven’s Door, Tangled Up in Blue, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, Isis, or . . . any of the rest, because that’s another whole world, and I could never put together an abridged pantheon, or even gold, silver, and bronze podium of players from that stage.