Sunday, February 27, 2005

The icy cold hand of death

Yes, it is that time of year once again, when the icy cold hand of death reaches out and snatches another year away from our friend, John. It is his birthday. John is well-known in our little circle for not taking the appearance of his birthday well. Two or three years ago, his infamous birthday dinner invitation spoke about "the icy cold hand of death" coming one year closer, and so forth. Every one of us showed up in appropriate all black mourning attire and somewhere is a funny picture of us all gathered around looking extra sad.

Today's birthday brunch invitation went like this:

It's that time of year again: time to reflect on the previous year's triumphs and failures, joys and sorrows, thrills and intrigues, special effects and show-stopping musical numbers. Yes, it's time for the goddamn Academy Awards, and this year they're squatting on MY BIRTHDAY. Rather than attempt to compete directly with the decadent entertainment industry, I've decided to make this year's memorial to my waning youth a daytime affair. Come to Cafe Flora's sun-washed atrium at noon this Sunday, the twenty-seventh, to see me emerge, eyes blinking and nose twitching, from the hole of overwork, illness, despair, and international political agitation that has consumed me since last summer. Legend has it that, if I see my own shadow, spring has arrived, and if I don't, I am a vampire.

Afterward, I propose that we engage in the vernal tradition of hiding gaily colored "eggs" (represented by billiard balls in some cultures) among pockets in green "fields" by thrusting at them with fertility symbols known as "cues," to be found by "children" at the Garage on Broadway, where we can also go bowling if you prefer. All festivities will end in time for you to return to your lives of error and sin, as you indulge in the bourgeois fantasies stoked by the Academy Awards broadcast. I'll need to reserve a table, so please respond with an aye or a nay as soon as you can, and if you do intend to bear witness to this harbinger of spring, include with your response the number of guests you'll bring.

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him,
Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odor and in hue,
Could make me any summer's story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew.
Nor did I wonder at the lily's white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.

Our friend, Karen had an excellent idea for this year's festivities:

A couple of months ago a certain They Might Be Giants song was stuck in my head all day, when suddenly it occurred to me, Mon dieu! That's the perfect John Franco birthday song! The song is called "Older," and it goes something like this:

You're older than you've ever been
and now you're even older
and now you're even older
and now you're even older
You're older than you've ever been
and now you're even older
and now you're older still

Time - is marching on
and time...(long pause)
is still marching on.
This day will soon be at an end
and now it's even sooner
and now it's even sooner
and now it's even sooner
this day will soon be at an end
and now it's even sooner
and now it's sooner still

You're older than you've ever been
and now you're even older
and now you're even older
and now you're even older
You're older than you've ever been
and now you're even older
and now you're older still

So I've been plotting to perform this song for him as a birthday surprise, and if y'all are game, I could use your help. I'm envisioning a chorus of kazoos. If anybody happens to play the bassoon or bass sax, that would be fabulous, but kazoos will do. The melody is very simple and catchy, as evidenced by the fact that I got it stuck in my head two years after hearing it only once.

Rarely does an idea achieve this level of perfection. Now, picture it if you will -

A table full of friends gathered around, suddenly burst into song with kazoo accompaniment and well-timed percussive body slaps. We received some applause and a pair of little older ladies asked us what the song was because they felt it was perfect for their younger friend's upcoming 60th birthday. I agree - let's replace the tired ol' happy Birthday song with Older.

It's out there now! Watch for it. A new meme is on the rise.


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