The Amend Corner

Returning to normality

By Don Amend
Posted 6/1/21

It seems as though our lives are slowly finding their way back to normal. I’m not sure what normal is, but I think it means less worry about being too close to other people so as to avoid being …

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The Amend Corner

Returning to normality


It seems as though our lives are slowly finding their way back to normal. I’m not sure what normal is, but I think it means less worry about being too close to other people so as to avoid being hit by a virus emanating from somebody’s cough, sneeze or simple breathing in your direction. 

Well, I hope that’s the case, principally because we have taken the liberty of committing a  considerable chunk of the next month to a gathering of our descendants. In our case, that’s only eight people: two old people (Karen and I), two children (one of whom turned 50 recently — an event that triggered a sudden feeling of senility in their dad) and four grandchildren. Two of the grandchildren are girls on the threshold of teenager-hood, and two are little brothers — seventh graders who are just the right age to drive big sisters crazy, should they desire to do so. Fortunately, the two little brothers think their sisters are pretty cool and I think the girls like their brothers as well. At least, that’s the way it was the last time we had such a gathering. That was two years ago, though, and things might have changed since then.

I’m not sure what to expect. I was never a little brother nor a big sister, so I’m not sure what sort of dynamic to expect from the four of them, but it should be fun finding out, at least I hope so.

The return to normality makes me happy for another reason: I’ve had rather limited choices of people to talk to. There have been quite a number of days when my wife was the only one I had to talk to. This is not a bad thing; Karen has a lot of good things to say, and discussions with her are usually satisfying. She doesn’t disagree with me often, but when she does, her point of view sometimes leads me to modify, or even completely change, my position on whatever subject we are discussing.

However, there are often times when I am left alone with my thoughts, and when that happens, my mind goes in strange directions. For example, the other day I woke up thinking about a song from the late 1950s. In fact, the first time I heard it was when the kid who wrote it appeared on a New Year’s Eve program on television. His name was Paul Anka, and the song he wrote was about loving a girl, Diana, who apparently was somewhat older than he was. (The song pointed that out in the first line.) Eventually, things didn’t work out between them, because he later wrote a song about how she had betrayed him by taking up with another guy.

Why she did is not a mystery. Dwelling on a woman’s advanced age is not the way to her heart, so it’s not surprising that Diana would be a bit insulted by Paul’s lyrics; Paul was too young to realize that, and it cost him.

You may be wondering why I spent most of a day humming this old teenage ballad. Well, I’m wondering the same thing, because the song is actually kind of irritating. Unfortunately, my mind works that way sometimes, and I’ve often wondered why.

A couple of days later, I was visited by another song. This time it was a song from “Sesame Street,” the PBS kids program aimed at helping young kids learn things like the alphabet and how to count. I watched Sesame Street almost daily sometimes, because my daughter was a resident of that street, and I found that I liked watching — and I especially liked the songs. I think my favorite was the song for number seven, “The Alligator King.” In the song, the king was feeling sort of blue, and he challenged his seven sons to cheer him up. He said he would give his crown to the son who managed to raise his spirits.

So, six of his sons brought him gifts, pearls, fancy clocks, rubies, perfume, diamond rings and lemon drops. Unfortunately, some of the gifts made the king’s mood worse. He mistook the rubies for cherries and broke some of his teeth, and he put the diamond rings on his toes and they caught on the royal rug, causing him to fall down and land on his nose.

That left the youngest son, who didn’t bring any fancy gifts but saw his father’s predicament and helped him up. This cheered up the king and won the crown for the youngest son.  

Like the other song, this one has been echoing in my head for a couple of days, but that’s OK. There’s a good lesson in the story of the alligator king, so the song is worth repeating.

But I still don’t understand why — out of all the songs I know — that one was planted in my head for a whole weekend.

The Amend Corner