Since the beginning of Covid time, four or five days a week we take this walk. And every morning a song visits me, unbidden.
This morning it’s the theme from “The Odd Couple.” Where did that come from? Yesterday it was “I Think I’m Going Out of My Head,” which, for sentimental reasons, I was totally okay with. The day before that I was stuck all morning with The Captain and Tenille, “Love Will Keep Us Together,” which was almost more than I could take.
Human beings, the study of evolution tells us, are unique among creatures in a couple ways. We use fire. We make (and take) pictures. And we make music. Susanne Langer suggests that humans may have been musical even before they became verbal. So those songs, I guess, are coming to me from not just the eighth grade, but also from somewhere old, somewhere deep in my primordial memory.
Also, laughter sets us apart from other creatures. Yes, I know, hyenas. And there are chimps that can be crackpots and seem to have a great sense of humor. But man laughs. He chuckles, chortles, giggles and guffaws, snickers, titters, and horse laughs. “Laughter is the property of man,” writes Rabelais, echoing Aristotle.
These mornings, when these songs fill my head, I’ve learned to keep them to myself, even when they make me laugh. They give me pleasure, pleasure my wife does not long share when I hum, whistle, or sing the same phrases over and over. A song like “Love Will Keep Us Together” is guaranteed to drive us apart. On Pine Tree Trail, when we pass the house with the Real Estate One sign out front, I inexplicably want to sing “Let yourself go to Real Estate One” to the tune of “Let yourself go to Pizza Hut.” I’m subject to ditties. I think that’s funny. Three days in a row I strike up that tune.
Not today. My wife is not amused.