Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Passing Parade

The year begins with a phone call from Ralph who played the sousaphone from age six until his discharge from the army marching band sixteen years later.  I presume he took time off to eat. He recalled those freezing days in Chicago when the mouthpiece froze onto his lips and water had to be poured to unstick him.

We imagined the big brass bands in the Rose Parade blowing and percussing their hearts out on Colorado Blvd. between the petaled-floats flown in from far corners. Never for a moment in my 60 years in Los Angeles have I had the slightest urge to endure the elements to witness the spectacle when I could see it fine from the couch.

I hope somebody remembered the warm water to help remove the mouthpiece from those horn players. Life is hard enough without having to walk around with an appendage in the middle of your face. Though Ralph tells me that it helped soften his lips and got him a reputation for being a great kisser in those formative years. On the other hand there is the problem of spittle demonstrating that for every piece of good fortune there may come with it some unintended consequence.

I never have marched in a parade or learned to play a musical instrument and I plan on correcting that in my next incarnation. Though my choice would not be the um, pa, pa of Sousa but a bluesy sax of the Trane or the Bird and the march would be more of a mosey or a prowl.

Another thing I never had is the overwhelming curiosity to experience my tongue on a frozen anything, beyond a popsicle. It was enough to read about. I imagined some fool, last to leave Times Square on New Year’s Eve, trying to pry his tongue from a lamppost.

So here we are beginning our mosey / march for 2015 with frozen lips, but soft when thawed, making the best of it….batons twirling, drums beating, reeds answering brass, arms waving, flowers fighting for their lives transformed into cartoon phantasmagoricals and the whole passing parade, that’s us, high-stepping our way into the great unknown.

The botanical floats will wither before we do, I’m sure of it. The gloss is already off the rose. How many fields of blossoms were pulled from their green fuses for this pageant?

We will go through another round of Vivaldi’s seasons, stumbling and bumbling along, veering off prescribed routes and finding our own paths as we do. There’s a sousaphone in our heads we must answer to.

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