Feeling a little bit maudlin when I wrote this new piece of flash non-fiction, but just tried to roll with the feeling, honor it, and hopefully, make it something more. Enjoy. Doug
On Sunday afternoons, if I’m out running errands, I like to stop at my favorite record store and see if anything new has come in. I don’t need more records, but there is simple joy in discovery, finding new things to listen to, new horizons to cross. Sometimes my crate digging also illuminates shadows of the past, as when I was flipping through the dollar bin recently, and found a copy of soundtrack to The Party. The score was written by the inimitable Henry Mancini, of Pink Panther and Breakfast at Tiffany fame. The movie starred Peter Sellers as a well-meaning but bumbling Indian fellow trying to make it in Hollywood, and the lovely Claudine Longet as a well-meaning but sincere singer trying to make it in the music business. They meet at a party, but much more happens, to them and the other party goers.
The Party was one of my Dad’s favorite movies. One time, when my son and I were visiting , we watched it with him as part of our weekly pizza party movie night ritual. My mom was there too, but this was Dad night, and the dads chose. About a year later, my son and I watched it at home, on our own, and of course, I called my father up afterwards to let him know. Still later yet, I watched it with a girlfriend who hadn’t seen it before, snuggled up in bed on a chilly winter’s night, trying to hide a tear when Claudine sang the beautiful “Nothing to Lose,” the signature song of the movie, one with an embraceable melody. The movie is a comedy, but it’s also sweet and romantic. No doubt that’s why my dad liked it. He was a sentimental guy.
So, as I said, I bought the record on a Sunday afternoon, took it home, cleaned it, and put it on while working on an art project. The tunes were familiar, and I enjoyed it, but I felt weirdly out of place, struggling for a touchstone. I wanted to tell my dad about my find, but he had since passed away, no longer there to talk to, unless it was through dreams, memory, and prayers. I wanted to tell my son, but he was out with friends, a texting teenager moving closer to his own world, and the time that he will call me from distant places, as I did my father. I wanted to tell a partner, but had none to speak of, passing time moving me further from the equanimity I desired, beyond reach of the bond that takes you out of time while still capturing endless moments. I thought about telling a friend, but they are scattered around the world and I wasn’t sure who might get it, and share the excitement. So, I told no one, working away silently.
When “Nothing to Lose” came on, I stopped my project to listen fully. Once again, there was a tear, this time unhidden, as I came to the realization that in all my trips around the sun, I’d never thrown a party of my own, because I was afraid no one would understand, and most of all, that no one would come. After the fade, I went back to what I was doing, one with an embraceable melody.