Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Whispers of Long Ago

     I’ve admitted it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t belong to my own generation.  I was born 40 years old and I’ve only grown older with time.  Trust me: being in the fifth grade and knowing by heart the lyrics to every song Elvis Presley ever belted out is not exactly a stepping stone to popularity.  Half of my class loved Tiffany, the other half loved Debbie Gibson.  My teacher was the only one who pretended to understand my “same but different” love for both Elvis and Johnny Mathis while I visited Boots Randolph and Tchaikovsky on the side .  Being different is not as fun as it sounds.  Nobody gets your jokes.  Nobody likes your music.  Most of your heroes are dead.  It can be a lonely existence. 

      It was on one such lonely day when I “visited” some of my heroes on YouTube.  I marveled at clips of Katharine Hepburn, her confidence as obvious as her Bryn Mawr accent.  I laughed when Foster Brooks, a stone-cold sober gent, portrayed a side-splitting drunk without uttering a single profanity.  I was enraptured by Cary Grant’s love scenes that sizzled with raw magnetism without becoming a biology lesson.  I missed them all and I’ve never met a single one of them.   

      Why couldn’t I have been born in a time that actually fit me?

      What I wouldn’t give to have friends my own age who find modern “rom-coms” droll and pedestrian when compared with classic cinema.  A pal who finds it difficult to choose between Cary Grant and Clark Gable for the prize of “Man of the Century”.  I kept up my YouTube review of the works of my heroes when I happened upon a clip from the fabulous Mr. Don Rickles at his own roast at The Fryer’s Club.  What he said at the end of his spot left me speechless, floored, absolutely spellbound.  I transcribed his exact words so I could read them over and over: 

      “My father said, ‘Don, when you’re different your heart is open to a little ache.  But remember, when you’re different, you might capture all the stars but the whole world will not rally ‘round you, but you have a chance of having them notice you.  So go home at night, put your head on the pillow, and thank God for what you’ve attained.  And maybe God will look down and say, “Hey, I am grateful to you, son, for doing something different."'”

      Am I hearing this correctly?  Have the words of one of my heroes come from a time long passed to encourage me?  Is it possible that maybe, just perhaps, my heroes didn’t feel like they belonged either?  It’s just too much to hope for.  If he felt different, then maybe I’m not such an oddball after all. 

      It’s a big deal, find out you aren’t as alone as you once perceived.  Someone else struggled with feeling different.  Someone else sought reassurance that his was not an odd path bound for a nowhere existence.  Someone took words of wisdom to heart, and through the retelling of his experience, reached through the portals of time to encourage a fellow “different”. 

      Since then, I have taken a new approach to life.  I have put my thoughts into the modern equivalent of a “column” and found an audience of “differents” just like me.  I credit Don Rickles for much of my courage.  I hope one day I can shake his hand and say, “Thank you.  I’m grateful to you, sir, for doing something different.”

© Bertha Grizzly 2012.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

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