T-shirts and bad jokes

Sharing our thoughts with Manitou

As I wander around The Land, one of the way I amuse myself is to read the slogans and quotations on people’s shirts. Usually, it’s young girls or women who walk around with logos written in English, and I often wonder if they have any idea what the words mean. In some cases, I’m pretty sure not, particularly when the messages being worn by eight-year-olds are clearly salacious. There are some occasions, however, when adults are wearing something that makes for interesting reading. I’ve even posted a couple of witty sayings on my Facebook page. One day, when I was walking up Rehov Yaffo to the shuk, I spotted the following emblazoned on the shirt of a Filipino caretaker (although I’m not sure what I have is an exact quote): 90% of my brain is composed of song lyrics.

I WANT THAT SHIRT! Does that describe me, or what? Folks who know me well are aware that, based upon what someone else has just said, I will burst into song with lyrics that seem appropriate for the moment. My brain is indeed cluttered with the words of songs half-remembered. Most of my inventory is from the Golden Age of American Popular Music, generally considered to be the period between the two Great Wars, but there’s lots of other stuff as well. Here, for example is a stanza from a song I learned at Boy Scout Camp when I was eleven or twelve, a song so unfamiliar to anyone else that you can’t find a reference in Google:

            Oh, the sun sets in the western sky,

            Oh, the moon is bright and shines on high,

            We are gathered in the glow,

            Sharing our thoughts with Manitou

You get the point: obscurity is no impediment to my remembering a verse or two from something I first heard in my life as a child. Every so often the following line will get played on the jukebox of my mind: Put your shoes on Lucy, don’t you know you’re in the city. That’s all I could remember, that one line, although from that you do get a sense of what the rest of the song is about. It would ‘get played’ for a day or two and then would be returned to its place on the virtual rack somewhere in the back of my brain. I always assumed it was some bizarre song from way back, a folk song or a novelty number from the 1920’s (akin to ‘Yes, we have no bananas’). But one day, when the issue of the young lady’s footwear was on my play list, I said to myself, let’s check it out on Google; maybe this time I’ll get lucky.

Was I in for a surprise. The song dates from 1949, when I was eight years old, not some bygone time, the few years before I was born. I found the lyrics, which you can read yourself. And I found versions on YouTube, like this one. The question might be posed: Is this important, and if so, why? What it means to me is that I’m not alone, that there might be others on this planet who share my memories, that it’s not all in my mind. But while there is evidence that some of the lyrics I remember actually existed, some of them may die with me – like the reference to an Algonquin deity, along with other exotic memories from my youth: for instance, the names of the candy stores in our neighborhood. So here’s to you, Mr. and Mrs. Bond, in whose store at the corner of E. 208 St. and Jerome Ave. we would purchase our Mello Rolls; our monthly allotment of comic books; or a Spaldeen, when the one we were using rolled down the sewer. If nothing else, I’ve got you covered wherever you are in your retirement village in the sky. And if you run into an Algonquin deity with ‘My name is Manitou’ written on his shirt, please give him my regards.

A bad joke

Several weeks after we had returned from our sojourn in The States, we heard some unpleasant news from Tina. Their younger son Milo had been coughing non-stop, to the extent that a trip to the emergency room in the middle of the night became necessary. The diagnosis was R.S.V. (respiratory syncytial virus), a common-enough condition that lots of kids get. Except that Milo, suffering from S.M.A., isn’t most kids. For that subset of children with debilitating diseases, respiratory infections can be serious, if not fatal. However, Milo was admitted to the hospital, diagnosed, treated as if he had pneumonia, and discharged the next day, good as gold.

We were celebrating Natania’s birthday at Café Rimon in Mamila on Sep. 5th – which is her birthday – sitting at our table in the cool of the evening. I was filling in Gil and our daughter with the latest doings from Chicago – with a little embellishment from your humble recorder. An explanation was required as to what this virus is all about, because we hadn’t known, and they didn’t know., and the two of them were listening intently, not knowing what was coming next – although maybe they should have guessed. I mentioned that there is now a simple urine test to determine if you have the virus or not: It’s called R.S.V. pee. THE END.

One thought on “T-shirts and bad jokes

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