Friday, February 4, 2011


There were a few things I was going to write about. First I was going to write a piece about When Facebook Attacks which was all about how weird Facebook can get (I might still write that one). And then I was going to write about how I finally understood that horrible Kay Jewelry commercial (you know... the one with the thunderstorm and the guy who's real creepy with his whole "I'll always be there to protect you against your irrational, childish fears. Here's a pretty necklace that I almost definitely won't strangle you with"). I might still write that one too. But I had an experience tonight...

So my (gak) great niece is spending the night in advance of a trip to Iowa tomorrow. She's a total peach, just this curly headed little moppet with a near constant smile and the brightest little shoe button eyes you've ever seen. But, you know, when you're four and you're spending the night away, sometimes you miss your Mommy and it's a little hard to drift away into sleep. I totally get it, I'm 41 and still miss my Mommy sometimes too. Fortunately, it's OK for me to take a Tylenol PM.

In lieu of drugging the children, I have a much healthier sleep inducement: I bore the shit out of them by reading poetry until they just drift off in lieu of anything better to do. This totally works for all parties because I quite like poetry and can read it in dulcet, sonorous tones. I think. My actual reading voice might be dreadful. (It's hard and disconcerting to listen to yourself, which is the main reason answering machines were phased out in favor of voicemail.)

I started off with Prufrock. This is a good one to start with because it is very rhythmic and even if you don't know what the hell is going on (I know what's going on and have the student loans to prove it), it still sounds really pretty. I then segued into Innisfree, which is a lovely, peaceful poem. At this point both girls were out. But I was enjoying myself so I carried on with Terence, This is Stupid Stuff.

This poem is special to me since both my father and I ended up memorizing it at different stages of our lives and completely independent of the knowledge of the other one's memorization. Just all of the sudden, we both seemed to know it by heart and would perform it despite the groans and pained expressions of everyone else in the room (cretins! philistines!).

So, I was reading it aloud and remembering Dad fondly when I got to the point where Houseman says "Oh, I have been to Ludlow Fair/ And left my necktie god knows where." Suddenly, the memory of my father saying those lines sprang up so vivid. He found that part hilarious and wonderful and pronounced those lines with all sorts of zeal and humor. I could see his eyes crinkle and twinkle and Dad's killer grin.

So, of course, I burst into tears.

Fortunately, I didn't wake the children.

I still feel really fortunate, even after all these years, that a memory of my father can spring up so immediate and vivid. He was always so alive when he was alive, you know?

It's painful, but such a great gift. And it's also so sad. It's so sad that people we love die and we don't get to hear them talk about Terence's damn drunken revelries. It's less sad than not ever having HAD someone who enjoyed Houseman so much. But somehow more sad too. And it puts me to mind of more Houseman. Which I will share below. It's short.

With rue my heart is laden
For many a friend I had
For many a rose-lipt maiden
For many a lightfoot lad

By brooks too broad for leaping
The lightfoot boys are laid
The rose-lipt girls are sleeping
In fields where roses fade

That shift from maiden/lad to girls/ boys just kills me.

Good night everyone. I hope that somewhere there's someone in your life with a twinkle in their eye who gets a real kick out of good poetry.