|It's hard to say goodbye.|
Like my cheap-o fifth grade orchestra pin. It still occupies a place of honor in my jewelry box, along with a "lucky stone" I found when I was in second grade, and a neat-o metal typeset of my name that came from a field trip to the Baltimore Sun (newspaper) building, which I, in fact, missed, because I had the measles. None of those items will mean anything to our children when I'm gone, but somehow, I can't bring myself to part with them.
It's probably time to tell those records sayonara, but like Celine Dion sang, "It's hard to say goodbye." Not that any of these records are anywhere near as recent as Ms. Dion's birth. No, these treasures of mine are Elvis records, Little Richard, (when he was still a young rough and tumble rock 'n' roller) the Coasters, Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry, and Rosemary Clooney singing about "This Ol' House." They're the Drifters, Dion & the Belmonts, (before he went solo) and Eddie Fisher singing "Dungaree Doll." The McGuire Sisters, Artie Shaw and his orchestra playing "Star Dust" (one of my favorite songs of all time) and Jerry Lee Lewis on the old Memphis, TN Sun label. Treasures, I tell you, treasures!
Not that I've played any of them in the past forty years.
The fact that I don't have a good-working turntable is beside the point. If I wanted one badly enough, I'd buy one. But why should I? I don't NEED one.
No, all I have to do is look at these old records, and admire their brightly colored labels and sleeves, to remember my first record player with its wobbly turntable, which could only play one record at a time. To play a 45, you had to put a plastic piece into the larger record hole to make it fit. Had to tape a penny to the arm to make it heavy enough to play the records right, too. Then, my brother got the portable RCA player. All it played was 45s, and you could put on a whole stack at one time. (Like Sarah Vaughan crooned, "The record player's automatic ... ba-by.") One look at these records, and I'm bopping in the club basement with my girl friends, or dancing cheek-to-cheek at the teen center. So I don't have to actually HEAR them ... to hear them in my heart.
What got me to thinking about those old records is the editing I had to do on my book Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade this weekend. Know what? It's every bit as hard to cut words as it is to get rid of records. What's funny is that some of the parts getting the axe are the ones that I sweat the most blood over while laboring to give them birth. Witty stuff. Clever stuff. Stuff that makes me smile.
But it's gotta go! Because it injects ME into the book and serves to draw the reader away from the story. No matter how much I love those words, it doesn't serve the book if the reader stops to admire "my writing". Damn it.
So, the words are going. I delivered 'em, and now I'm killing 'em. And the book is better for it. And some day, those records will go, too, I promise. But not yet.
So, how about you? What treasures are you holding onto from your past? No matter how illogical it is to hang onto them, they sure do bring us comfort, don't they?
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. I believe I'll sail off into the sunset. (I always wanted to do that!)