Hey, I have a whole day off today. I don't even have to fix myself up to look put together for a party, because I already did that yesterday.
I got home last night in time to see the rerun of the maudlin Memorial Concert from the Mall. "Yes, ladies and gentleman, if you think the story you just heard about that heroic soldier made you cry, here's two more that will have you blubbering with snot blowing out of your nose."
I'm not sure why Joe Montagne is the host every year, but I'm not complaining -- him being from Chicago and all. So is Gary Sinise. I know why Gary is on -- at least I think I do. Besides being a friend of Montagne's, the rock band he leads entertains the troops in Iraq for the USO. Rock band? Why yes. I think's it's named after his character, Lt. Dan, in Forest Gump. Lt. Dan's Band. Soldiers treat him like he really is Lt. Dan. A little like life imitating art imitating an old movie.
What elixir of youth is that guy John Schneider drinking? He still looks as young as he did fifty, sixty years ago, jumping into his redneck roadster on the show that introduced America to Daisy Dukes. Fine by me. Sings good too, in a John Davidson Up With People way.
Colin Powell, the man who woulda shoulda coulda been our first Barack Obama, made his annual and, now rare, public appearance since Rumsfeld drummed him out of the White House.
I stayed up past midnight watching every minute of this yearly paean to patriotism, because, frankly, I like to sing along with Gladys Knight when I'm waiting for the Zantac to kick in. In fact, almost all the songs, except for whatever Sarah Brightman happens to be yodeling, are in my key.
Everything about Sarah seems surreal, from her preternaturally perfectly-pitched soprano voice [I'll look up preternaturally], to her Rapunzel-like hair [which comes with its own wind machine], to her voluptuously impossible body. Her hand movements are weird however. Odd. Awkward.
[I'll look up "paean" too, see if I spelled it right first of all, and used it right, second of all.]
Yesterday at the barbecue we had Bill Kurtis steaks. He's the guy on A&E who used to host every single show. He was an anchorman on CBS news in Chicago. Now he's so rich from producing American Justice and Cold Case Files and some other one I can't remember, that he has a cattle ranch in his home state of Kansas. He raises organic, grass-fed beef, which usually sells for twenty dollars a pound at high end grocery stores. I guess some grocery store had a fire sale on meat, so we were treated to grilled ribeye steaks from Kurtis' Tallgrass ranch. They tasted very good, but they definitely had a different flavor. Fescue?
Naturally, with plenty of wine and food to fuel our conversation, talk turned to death, my favorite subject. This was a racially homogeneous crowd, although we did have some religious diversity -- Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant. Everybody weighed in on cremation or not. Burial or not. Donation of organs or not. The usually upbeat stuff you talk about around the dinner table at a holiday party.
I allowed as how in a world where I could have anything I wanted, I'd pay to have the Edwin Hawkins' Singers come perform Oh Happy Day at my memorial service. That got some looks as everyone imagined the sounds of uplifting, joyous black gospel music emitted from the white bread and cottage cheese Episcopal church in the arch-Republican WASPy town where I was raised. After a moment of what-can-you-say silence, someone retorted, "Would you have the Jesse White Tumblers, too?"
I guess my request was considered as off the wall as someone black wanting Barry Manilow to sing Mandy at his or her funeral, followed by a performance featuring the Flying Wallendas.
Luckily we had some lemon meringue pie for a segue.
Mark your calendars -- the one year anniversary of the police invasion of my home is coming up in June. Should I send formal invitations? In fact, I was wondering whether I ought to call Officer Krumpke, who spearheaded the cover up, and ask him to dinner. I mentioned my willingness to extract some measure of revenge, even if it takes a long time, and a regular reader of my blog suggested that I write a note that says "Officer Krumpke gave me herpes." And leave it in my bedside table to be found upon my demise.
That's why I keep this journal. People care.