The ditty in question was "Catch a falling star" (and put it in your pocket, etc.). Except the wording was slightly off.
Thanks to my dear departed Dad, my brother and I grew up with a fairly warped take on children's classics. Dad had a fairly bawdy and largely scatological sense of humor.
So while my contemporaries were nattering on about pocketfuls of stars, we were twisting the lyrics to reflect collecting gaseous bodily emissions for a rainy day. (rhymes with 'start' if you're slow to pick up)
Nice, right? Of course, as young boys this was positively hysterical.
To this day, there was one car trip that still stands out in memory for me, my brother and mother as Dad's most memorable performance. (And had we had such a thing in my day, the night Child Protective Services came...)
In 1970, we were the first in our family to move away from the extended clan. From living just around the corner or across town - to living in a completely different state.
And let me pause to thank my parents for doing that, because we had so many more opportunities and adventures than had we stayed there. In the cosmic blackjack game of life, the majority of my cousins busted early - some are in their forties and still living at home, others are ex-cons, alcoholics, you name it.
In fact, when my maternal grandmother was still alive, I remember her joy when her fourth great grandchild was actually born 'legitimate'. Prison time, mobile homes, multiple marriages/divorces - this is the legacy we left behind.
At a recent family encounter, I had an uplifting conversation with my cousin's daughter who - after showing us the high quality hair extensions she had just purchased at the local dollar store - shared with us the saga of meeting her most recent husband online. A man with whom, despite the fact that he had a hereditary disease that slowly and painfully screwed his body into resembling a living question mark before killing him prematurely, she chose to breed. So now, he's dead and she is left with a little girl who is already exhibiting early symptoms of the disease.
She's a relative success story.
Anyway - as the ones who abandoned the family early on, if we ever wanted to see family, we had to drive the eight hours back home to visit. The highway connecting these two regions apparently only worked one way.
|Awesome 1970 Chevy Caprice Kingswood Estate Wagon|
During one particularly painful drive home (the return trip always seemed twice as long) because we had left later than usual, we were still on the road somewhere past midnight. Road dementia had claimed all of us, except for my mother who has never managed to stay awake for a car ride in her life. In fact, she's generally out by the time we're pulling out of the driveway.
Dad - an unnecessarily avid chatterbox to begin with - had shifted into overdrive. And my brother and I were literally bouncing off the windows in boredom-induced insanity.
So Dad decided to start 'adapting' nursery rhymes.
"Jack be nimble, Jack be quick. Jack jumped a candle and burnt his d**k."
Given the circumstances, this was hysterical.
We were howling as Dad inappropriately riffed on one filthy (to us) rhyme after another.
We were so off the hook, my mother even woke up.
This was the Westward Bound and Down, Chevrolet Caprice Station Wagon-enabled, Children's Twisted Poetry Slam.
But the killer, the coup de grace - the be all and end all - was when he pulled out Miss Muffet.
(Now keep in mind, he's making these up as he goes.)
Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider and sat down beside her,
"What's in the bowl, bitch?"
My mother had to leap over and wrest control of the speeding Chevy Caprice Poetry Slam Wagon from my father because he, my brother and I had absolutely dissolved. We couldn't breathe, we were laughing so hard.
Grasping the steering wheel, my mother had to talk my father down to make a safe transition to the shoulder so we could stop the car and avoid killing us all.
I feared the worst from my mother, who had lost valuable sleeping-in-the-car time. But by the time the car was brought to a safe stop on the shoulder, she too was laughing hysterically.
After that, the trips back home weren't so odious. We'd always refer to that night and laugh together at the memory.
And sometimes, in the wee hours - or standing in line at the grocery store or on a conference call at work - I'll hear that small voice in the back of my head:
"What's in the bowl, bitch?"
And I'll smile.
You were a piece of work, Dad. Thanks.