A bumper sticker — it said something like “Be Nice to Your Enemies — It Confuses the Hell Out of Them” — got me to thinking, conversely, about friends and the nature of friendship.
When your life’s soundtrack sounds like every sad song you’ve ever heard, when you’re down and lonely and your need a helping hand…thank God you can log on to your Facebook profile…and you know at least half of your hundred thousand million billion zillion Facebook friends will think to pick up the phone or send a quick email just to ask if you’re OK, or maybe tell you that they miss you, or maybe — if Lady Luck smiles and you hit the Game of Life jackpot — just maybe they’ll even tell you they miss you or love you. You’ve got a hundred thousand million billion zillion Facebook friends? Life is good. Congratulations.
Speaking of waiting on a friend…Here’s what’s probably my favorite song about friendship, and it just happens to be called “Waiting on a Friend.”
It’s one of Buddy Holly’s greatest recordings, later covered by an up-and-coming young British quartet who called themselves The Beatles, and a discussion tonight about the songs “Words of Love” got me to thinking about the many attempts — by songwriters, philosophers, poets, theologians, psychologists and bartenders — to pin down that elusive butterfly, the perfect definition of love.
Well, here’s my definition and it’s an anti-definition…I say love can’t be described, defined, delineated or declaimed. I say the look of love’s an emotional x-ray, that love’s a feeling beyond feeling, a syncopated beating of hearts, a galloping pulse, a hope with wings, the dream of all dreams, a never-ending link, a gift beyond giving, a red-hot thing shaped on heaven’s perfect anvil. I say love cannot be described with words, that the book of love’s printed with invisible ink.
But here’s Buddy Holly’s gallant attempt:
What words would you choose to utter if you knew they would be the final words you spoke in this mortal realm?
Novelist Victor Hugo declared “I see black light,” which isn’t exactly encouraging. Thomas Edison, on the other hand, reported: “It is very beautiful over there,” which I suppose balances out Hugo’s dark vision.
The very first Queen Elizabeth probably had a whole bunch of castles and crowns and ermine capes and….well, you know the stuff queens own. Nevertheless, she tried to cut this deal when her time came in the early 1600s: “All my possessions for a moment of time.”
Good attitude, right? But then along comes the film producer Louis B. Mayer, who on his deathbed declared, “Nothing matters. Nothing matters.” Let’s add James Joyce to this gloomy mix. The great writer died with this question apparently unanswered: “Does nobody understand?” And, OK, we might has well mix some doom into the gloom…Edgar Allan Poe’s final plea: “Lord help my poor soul.”
Whew. Time for something a little lighter.
The great Henry David Thoreau probably had something profound to say when he heard the Grim Reaper’s knock? Nope. Henry’s last utterance: “Moose…Indian…”
I like poet Emily Dickinson’s farewell: “I must go in, the fog is rising” spake Amherst’s belle in 1886.
But this may be my favorite. President James K. Polk, when he died in 1849, told first lady Sarah Polk: “I love you Sarah. For all eternity, I love you.”
That’s what I want — I want my heart’s true fulfillment right there by my side, close enough for her to hear me whisper those three perfect words: “I love you.”
Lately I’ve been doing lots of driving. Actually “lots” is an understatement. You wouldn’t believe how much driving I’ve been doing. Let’s just say that if I leased a car I might go over the mileage allotment in a week.
OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But I’m not exaggerating when I describe the two guys I saw driving this morning on Interstate 287 in northern New Jersey. One guy was reading a newspaper as he cruised along in the middle lane at about 60 miles per hour. He had the paper propped up in front of him on the steering wheel. The other guy actually had what appeared to be a financial ledger book opened in front of him, also propped against the steering wheel while he was speeding along at about 70 mph.
I was going to include with this post a video of Jan and Dean singing their 1964 classic “Dead Man’s Curve.” But that would be too creepy.
I’m hitting the road again in about an hour. I don’t need any bad karma. But I do need a car song. . “Little Red Corvette” by Prince? “Drive My Car” by The Beatles? “Drive” by the Cars? “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman? Early Beach Boys?
No, how about something that fits this rainy night? How about Tom Waits singing his song “Ol’ ’55?” It has nothing to do with dangerous drivers. But at least it’s about a car, right? Right? Or is it…could it be…about love…about driving in your car…and you’re not reading a newspaper or a financial ledger book…and you’ve just been with the woman you truly love and you’re wishing you could have stayed longer…yes, I think that’s what Tom Waits is singing about…and I think I’ll think about that as I drive up the highway one more time tonight with melancholy love songs playing in my head as the wipers keep the rhythm as I drive through the darkest darkness in what seems like never-ending rain.