Saturday, February 21, 2009

And the Winner is . . .

ME! I’m so overwhelmed to . . . uh, hold on a minute . . . [flush] . . . whew, I made it just in time. As I was saying, I’m so overwhelmed to receive this award from Mary Whitsell, storyteller extraordinaire. And I mean that.

No award, however, comes without a price. If this was an Academy Award I would have to rent a tux, and Martha would have to find the ugliest designer gown for over fifty grand—and that's not counting shoes.

This award, however, is awarded to the awardee with only one requirement: I am to write about some of my favorite things. Which reminds me of the song from The Sound of Music:

Whiskers on a grizzly bear
I keep falling out of my chair
Creamed spinach in my ears and hair
These are a few of my favorite things

You know, I’m thinking that these lyrics are not at all correct, so I’ll get on with the assignment and earn my award.

1) My stereo speakers. When I purchased a new sound system in 1977, I must have listened to dozens of speakers. I drove the salesman crazy, but I’d warned him: “I’ll know the right ones when a tympani sounds like a tympani and a bodhrán sounds like a bodhrán.” I found them finally, a little-known brand called Synergistics with a little-known price, and they still sound as good as they did thirty-plus years ago. So does my favorite piece, Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto,” which I still air conduct with my air baton. I raise my right hand slowly, palm up, and the cellos come up slowly; I point at the tympani and he tymps right on cue; during the ten-minute finale, the Berlin Philharmonic and I make sublime, soaring music together. I turn and take a deep, satisfying bow to my air audience. All because, thirty-plus years ago, I took the time to find my true ear mates.

2) Some of my books. I’m not in love with all of my books, but rather with those that have a special meaning for me. One is James Michener’s The Source, a huge epic that traces the history of the Jews from earliest times through the Holocaust. It sits on my shelf, a yellowed, fat mass-market paperback made fatter by the high humidity in Vietnam. To anyone else it looks like an old beat-up book; to me, it is a reminder of the only quality and normal time I spent in that hellhole of a country.

Can a man be sentimental and, if he is, will he admit it? In my case, yes and yes. There are books that wring me out emotionally, like the recent The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and the all-time Charlie-wringer, Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Madam Bovary, Sophie’s Choice, Anna Karenina—three tragic women, all three unforgettable, and all residents of the special bookshelf closest to my reading chair.

3) The dogs. This one, thank goodness for you, doesn’t require my usual verbosity. In fact, it is quite simple. I love our two little dogs, and they love me back. Housebound like I am, Casa la Dumpa would be a mighty lonely place without their companionship. Irish is the court jester but Molly, who will soon turn twelve, is the caregiver: she knows when the pack leader isn’t feeling well and cuddles against me like a warm, soft bag of fur. Until chow time, that is.

4) You folks. I don’t want to be maudlin, mushy, or mawkish, but I will be because I love alliteration. It is all well and good to have caring canine companions [shivers with alliterative glee], but I need people too. People who can tell me stories that make me laugh and make me cry, people who tell me about their lives and their cultures and their children and their opinions and their books and their hobbies and their pets and their ex-husbands and where Mary is moving next. Between emails, blogs and LibraryThing, I talk to people all over the world, instantly, which bloggles my mind. We share our humanity, and that is a wonderful thing. Without you, dear friends, and the Innertube to connect us, this would truly be a prison.

5) Martha. What can I say about the woman who has shared her life with me for thirty-five years? Who promised, “Through sickness and health, until death do us part,” and has kept it? Who, after all these years, still makes me laugh? Who is still a Minnesota farm girl at heart and slams the front door like a barn door so the flies can’t get out? Who has a dozen gardening projects in some stage of completion, but none completed? Who tells me, “No, you cannot buy that,” and “Be careful or you’ll break it,” and “Not until you wash your hands,”? Whom I can’t begin to imagine what life would be like without her?

Nothing, other than she is all of my favorite things.

[Thank you, Mary, for the award, and I apologize for not having leg-warmers on my list.]


Stinkypaw said...

Charlie, once again your words touched me. What a nice tribute to Martha, especially after thirty-five years. Big hugs dear man.

Koolio said...

What wonderful sentiments. Especially and always about Martha who should be called Saint Martha. I strive to be like her. Ah well, perhaps in my next life. ;)

Mary Witzl said...

If you lived any place but Arizona, I'm betting leg warmers WOULD be on your list, and if they weren't, they should be! I've got mine on now, and I'm glad I do.

You did a great job on this, proving that you are an apt recipient. Wish we had a halfway decent stereo system here, and a couple of resident dogs.

Meg said...

I hope my husband and I can be like you and Martha some day. Actually, he is getting rather catankerous already, so I think we're well on our way. I'm always smacking his hands away from something and saying, "No! Put it back!"

I see you have M.C. Beaton on your book list. Any good?

Charlie said...

SP: Thank you for the kind words, kind lady.

KOOL: You're right about St. Martha—she does act like a martyr sometimes, although I haven't a clue why.

MARY: I don't need leg-warmers, but I really need foot-warmers. My clodhoppers are always cold. [Blush]

And thanks for the compliment.

MEG THE BRIDE: You and Joe will do just fine as long as you work out the rough spots together.

You must always remember, too, that he will always be a little boy in a bigger body.

M.C. Beaton writes funny, fluffy mysteries that are worth a read from the library.

Kim Ayres said...

Can't think of what to write, but I wouldn't want you thinking I hadn't read it.

Charlie said...

KIM: I appreciate that you read this piece, but you know a comment isn't necessary.

It is odd, though, that you couldn't think of anything to write.

Kim Ayres said...

A lot depends on how recently I drank a coffee as to whether I'm able to come up with something witty, thoughtful, trite or draw a complete blank

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