Random Access Memories

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Ladies and gentlemen take my advice

Pull down your pants and slide on the ice

Do you remember that priceless rhyme from your childhood? You probably could, but it might have taken a minute or two to bring it all back. Yet we can do it, that and a whole whack of other useless things come to mind, like skipping rhymes for the ladies and dirty limericks for us gentlemen. Sadly some limericks are so old they are out of date. How many kids would make any sense out a man from Boston who bought a baby Austin – a baby what?

I am curious about poetry and all the little ditties from so many years ago popping into our heads for no particular reason. Someday I must ask a psychiatrist, or a psychologist, some kind of ‘ist’ anyway, why it is that we can recite weird stuff from 75 years ago but can’t remember why we are standing in the basement with a dog leash in our hand and we don’t have a dog. It must have something to do with the rhyme itself or the rhythm.

Sometimes the lines from a play will come back to me, the same ones I couldn’t remember when I was on stage with 400 people waiting for me to say something, anything at all, they didn’t care, they just wanted the play to end so they could go home.

Way, way, back in the early 70s I was Lord Fancourt Babberley in Charley’s Aunt at the Opera House. I don’t remember much about the play but one night the film came on TV at midnight and be-damned if I didn’t start saying my lines. I found that particularly odd since I couldn’t remember them when we did the play.

I have written about this in a column four or five years ago; but we can still remember Along the line of smoky hills and I wandered lonely as a cloud and can recite both poems all the way through to the bitter end, but we have to take a note when we go to the supermarket to pick up, milk, hotdog buns and… “ Mary, milk and buns what is the other thing I was supposed to get?”

It must be the cadence, the rhythm, or the beat that helps us recall the poetry we learned in high school more than a half century ago. Even if we drew a complete blank in English class when we were in Grade 11, today we could pass with honours. Of course, standing up in front of the class it was a lot harder, especially when you were holding a book over the front of your pants (there were dozens of girls there and they were pretty well all boys ever thought about) If you are puzzled, ladies, your husband will explain later.

But how can we use poetry to make our life easier today? May I suggest whenever we go shopping don’t go writing a list we will lose on the way, recite it in a poem. Maybe we could sing it in a little song like ‘(these are a few of) My Favourite Things.’

Laundry detergent, for sure for it’s urgent

Tide without fail, unless Gain is on sale

Brown bread for toast, and coffee dark roast

And plenty of soup and paper for poop

Red paint for her toes and wipes for your nose

(Okay so it doesn’t fit quite into the tune)

The Orange Pekoe Tea, you’ll find in Aisle Three

Limburger cheese and a can of green peas

A spray can of Pam and strawberry jam

A pot roast would be nice, especially with rice

Fresh chicken thighs and Murine for the eyes

Pork cottage roll and pineapple (Dole)

Greek pork souvlaki and Sauce Teriyaki

Prime chicken strips and potato chip dips

Maille Dijon mustard and Jello peach custard

Two sleeves of Pringles, Kraft cheese slices (singles)

Worcestershire Sauce, buns with a cross (I know that is bad but what the hell!)

Big box of crackers, Fixodent for my clackers

A fifteen pound turkey and two sticks of beef Jerky

Green seedless grapes and Delmonico Steaks

And finally one orange, – nothing rhymes with orange

I’m off to go shopping. Let’s see there is laundry detergent and… and… damn, maybe I better write a list after all.

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