I left the house early this morning to pick up The Boy. Plaid Bermuda shorts, sandals with socks, wavy brown hair, book bag and his guitar in its black ripstop case. The barest essence of designer mens' cologne settled around him.
"Thanks for giving me a ride to school," he said in a deep, masculine voice.The Boy. Guess I can't call him that much longer. Fourteen going on 24.
Next stop was the post office. Busy angling our key into the proper slot in a wall full of bronze-colored boxes, I heard the song before I saw the singer.
"Grab your coat and get your hat, leave your worries on the doorstep, just direct your feet, to the sunny side of the street. . ."
I looked up and saw a woman with long, gray-streaked blond hair that was twisted loosely into a pile on top of her head, like some state fair funnel cake. She was solidly built, with a gait like a big white duck. And she was singing that song, the one that when I hear it, I see my Daddy's big toothy grin, freshly-shaved brown face, and those high cheekbones that would break a would-be fashion model's heart. W. T. sang that song a lot. Come to think of it, so do I.
The woman stopped singing when she saw me. "Please," I said. "Don't stop. I love singing in the morning. It's a happy sound."
She chuckled and nodded. Then sighed, bending down to pull out the mail from her post office box that was near the floor. "Happy people. We need more happy people."
Catch the mood. . . click here for John Lithgow and company's version. But don't do it unless you want to smile, hum, whistle and dance around. It was written in 1930, surely a time, like today, when we need more happy people. Jimmy McHugh wrote the music and Dorothy Fields the words.
I drove on home, past school buses, and people watering their yards, past machines bush-hogging islands of pasture grass in-between road lanes, past a poor dead armadillo upside down on the side of the road, his useless coat of mail still appearing to be impenetrable.
I was close to our gate when I saw a woman standing almost in the road. She wore beige pedal pushers, a white work shirt rolled up to the elbows, and a broad sun hat. I slowed to swerve carefully around her and to see what she was staring at that seemed to mesmerize her so. She appeared to sway with an almost sensual pleasure. Her hands made slow, palms-up movements by her side.
It was a house. The tiny, square brick house that has stood half in weeds for years has been redeemed. A front porch and a back addition, plus a new roof are in the process of being added. The profile now is more like a charming southern vernacular bayou-style house. The woman had a look of barely contained joy. Of love. And I can see why.
What a morning, eh?