Thursday, October 14, 2010

Telling More Stories

Grandpa used to sing a part of this song all the time. I can never remember the words, and it is pretty hard to Google two measures of a tune. But somehow it made its way to me today. Enjoy!

This from IntrepidCat, niece and web-explorer-extraordinaire, on her Facebook page today.  
She was the first person I knew who kept a web-log..... which seems to have contracted to become a blog.... and which is now kept by an old aunt instead of a high school niece.  The times, they are a-changin'

That is true... but it's also false.  Some things don't ever change.  The memory of Grandpa singing a slightly naughty tune is old and new at the same time.  He's remembered in a different setting, with new people, by an older-and-wiser you.  He's there now as he was then.  YouTube helps you tell the story once more, and it's new again.  Were you sitting in the audience as the singer strummed?  Was Grandpa swaying in waltz time with you?  He was with me, I can assure you of that.

I found another difference between the Iliad and the Odyssey and the Aeneid today.  The first two are personal stories - I Want My Wife Back and I Just Wanna Go Home - where Aeneas's eponymous tale is less about him than it is about the stories that make up the history of Rome.  Aeneas is a curiously empty character.  He is there when things happen, but that seems to be just a device to move the plot along.  After finishing 10 of the 12 Books which comprise the epic, I can't say that I am any closer to knowing Aeneas than I was when I began.  He calculates how to tell Dido that he's blowing town, but he never considers that he might miss her.  She's so furious that she can't even look at him when he runs across her in the Underworld; he's oblivious to her pain.  Or, perhaps, he is surprised by her pain.  In either case, he's not sharing it.  

Even without the more human connection of the Greek tales, the Aeneid still serves its purpose, story-telling-wise.  If you buy my thesis that it's our shared stories which, more than anything else, bind us together, then the Aeneid's reiteration of Rome's creation story helped bind the wounds of their recent history.  Who are we as Romans?  Virgil's going to tell you, by recounting the past.

And so who is IntrepidCat?  Does her delight in discovering a forgotten lyric remind me of her Grandpa's twinkly eye as he almost-but-not-quite got into trouble with G'ma?  Did she learn anything from those encounters?  Are they part and parcel of who she is today?  How did that YouTube clip come to her today?  Is her Grandpa watching her search even now as we prepare to celebrate what would have been his 94th birthday today?  I'm thinking of getting some ice cream and twirling and swirling it around in my bowl until it's just soupy enough.  I'm thinking of stacking paper plates and cups into a tall tower on a picnic table.  I'm glad that I'm going to see Pirates of Penzance with G'ma on Sunday.  And all of these smiles are because IntrepidCat had a lyric stuck in her head.  I'm going to practice creating my food in just the right way, because presentation is as important as taste.  I'm going to create and be a mechanic and tread on the edge of naughtiness, all while paying homage to Gilbert and Sullivan in the soundtrack in my head.  Each one of these things is a piece of our story, IntrepidCat.  Even if you aren't aware of it.

Thanks for the memory and Happy Birthday, Daddy.

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