Sunday, August 16, 2009
A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Or, as Vice President Dan Quayle once said, “It’s a terrible thing to waste one’s mind.” I think he gave us his garbled version around the time he said, “Why, yes, thank you, I believe I will have another potatoe.”
The older I get, the weirder I get. I admit it. (Honesty is the best policy.) One day a couple of weeks ago I woke up with “Jambalaya” running through my head and posted about it, as the few faithful readers of my blog may recall. Where it came from, I have no idea. Since today is Sunday, the Lord’s Day, you might think I would wake up thinking of “Holy, Holy, Holy” or “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” or even “Jesus Loves Me,” but no. Instead, I woke up with the lyrics of Irving Berlin’s “You’re Not Sick, You're Just In Love” playing inside my head, sung by Russell Nype and Ethel Merman.
I hear singing and there’s no one there;
I smell blossoms and the trees are bare;
All day long I seem to walk on air;
I wonder why,
I wonder why.
I’ve been tossing in my sleep at night;
And, what's more, I’ve lost my appetite;
Stars that used to twinkle in the skies
Are twinkling in my eyes;
I wonder why.
You don’t need analyzin’,
It is not so surprisin’,
That you feel very strange but nice.
Your heart goes pitter-patter,
I know just what’s the matter,
Because I’ve been there once or twice.
Put your head on my shoulder,
You need someone who’s older,
A rubdown with a velvet glove.
There is nothing you can take
To relieve that pleasant ache,
You’re not sick, you’re just in love.
Then he (Him, Russell Nype) and she (Her, Ethel Merman) started singing their parts in counterpoint, which means they sang two different tunes at the same time, interweaving the melodies, and it was all very impressive. Eventually Ed Sullivan came onstage to announce next week’s rilly big shoe. I think these particular memories are circa 1950 -- Irving Berlin’s Call Me Madam and TV’s Toast of the Town combined, all tucked away in black and white in the recesses of my gray matter.
Please believe me when I tell you that I didn’t look up any of the lyrics to create this post. I didn’t have to. They were just there, inside my forehead, waiting to spring forth full-grown like Athena from the forehead of Zeus.
It’s not like I went out of my way to memorize the lyrics to that song or anything, any more than I went out of my way to forget what I ate for dinner last Tuesday evening. It’s just how things are. I can remember Ethel and Russell from 60 years ago. I can’t remember what went down my gullet last week.
As I said, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
I have a theory. Nothing we ever say or do or hear or see is forgotten. It’s all stored away in our brain somewhere, awaiting the Judgment Day, when everything will be brought into the light. Before that day arrives, however, God in His mercy allows us to purge ourselves of some of the nonsense we’ve collected on our way to the big event, much like Mrs. RWP often skims the fat off the top of the chicken soup she makes. Out with the bad; in with the good, and all that. Not that chicken fat is bad. It does have its uses. You just don’t want too much of it in your soup. And the more gunk we remove from our insides, the more room there is in there for God. Either we remove it voluntarily or we will have it removed forcibly from us later. Finally, in the end, I think, we will hear nothing but Him.
It’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
I also believe in serendipity. For example, I just discovered this clip on Youtube wherein Kristin Chenoweth and Nathan Lane sing this very song. In keeping with the changes that have occurred in our world, Kristin sings Russell Nype’s part and Nathan sings Ethel Merman’s part.
One thing I do know for sure. Nathan Lane is no Ethel Merman. Okay, so she’s a little long in the tooth in that clip. So for you show-biz purists out there, here is the one, the only, Ethel Merman, a bit earlier in her career. One gets the feeling she could have kept on singing for hours.
Let J. Danforth Quayle try to top that! Politics only cloud the mind. Nothing clears the cobwebs away like a good Ethel Merman medley.
What was I saying again?