Then put your little hand in mine. There ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb.
I’d like you to try and tell me you haven’t thought about this scene once or twice, in say, the last six months or so. Please feel free to hold your hand up admitting you, too, feel like you are Phil (Bill Murray) stuck in Punxsutawney reliving Groundhog Day over and over and over and…
Sonny and Cher ringing in the new day on the clock radio feels exactly like life under COVID. Sure we’ve got a few “distractions” along they way BLM, RBG, EU v UK, JB v DJT. We’ve had our equivalents of Phil bumping into Ned and stepping into the puddle, Phil learning piano, Phil learning French poetry, Phil learning ice sculpturing, Phil trying to hook up with Rita /Andie Macdowell (why he’s so nuts about her is a whole other mystery surrounding that film). Definitely there’s been as much eating during COVID as Phil’s bingeing scene at the Tip Top Cafe. All these distractions yet none to help us find a way to shift the day forward –to a new song at least.
It’s all wearing a bit thin and I wanted to let you know I’m right there with you. And maybe, it’s because of this, I’m seeking guidance from my 1970s (from whence that song comes) upbringing to see if I can summon something to grab hold of to help push or pull me through the next stretch of this seemingly endless event.
You know I wander in the woods. Walk Winston. Admire the birds, my local flora and fauna. Carry on about trees. Soak it up at the beach. Marvel in the cuteness of the cats, but really the elephant in everyone’s room these days is COVID-19 (not the Chinese flu by the way – it’s the corona virus. It’s a worldwide issue, just sayin’).
Now don’t worry, self-isolation, 2 metres distancing, face masking, virtual hugging, 6 people bubbling, track n tracing and hand washing has not addled my brain completely. It’s not forcing me to find some kind of meaning in Sonny Bono’s lyrics to I Got You Babe it’s there for all to see if you just look. I’m deep, but not that deep (nor are Sonny’s lyrics). It’s just that the song has stopped haunting my Groundhog Day-ish existence and instead has become more of a, dare I say, anthem worthy of sharing. I Got You Babe. Happy for you to shorten it to I’ve Got You (if the babe is starting to bug you). Doesn’t everyone one want to feel like that right now? Like someone’s got you? Got your back? Got who you are? Got this one?
Okay, try and stay with me. Because Sonny is not only giving me a catchy tune to hum and keep me company, but his song is reminding me of his famous ex-wife, Cher, whom I’m also finding inspiring. Cher is leading me to what I think all of us are looking for, in fact, need. Nope it’s not her belting out, Half Breed, Believe or If I Could Turn Back Time (although that could be kinda helpful). Nope, it’s not her songs but her name, Cher, as in, Share, which is how I thought it was spelled when I was a kid and was allowed to stay up to watch her show with Sonny. I always thought the show makers had made a spelling mistake only I had been clever enough to spot (it was shocking but I was willing to accept grown ups aren’t perfect). Share, as in share and share alike or even better:
As in the Swedish proverb, “A joy shared is a double joy. A burden shared is half a burden.”
Being the third of five kids meant we were raised on sharing. Sharing clothes, sharing TV time and the Power of God (aka the remote), sharing bedrooms, sharing bathrooms, you get the idea. Then there was the other kind of sharing. I can’t tell you how many times my dad would say, “Many hands make light work” as we all stared at our plates and we knew it was time to take it to heart. Meaning everyone had to help share with doing the dinner dishes and clean up. Sharing the work across the seven of us did make it go a lot faster and easier and, in truth, more pleasurably. My mom always said although she loved our dishwasher, she didn’t mind hand washing and drying stuff cause that’s when some of the best conversations came to be (you know where I’m going with this) shared.
And c’mon, as I’ve taken you back to my parents’ house, I can’t miss mentioning, double stick popsicles. Although at times we might’ve wanted the lion’s share of a popsicle, splitting those doubles into the singles to make the box last longer on hot summer nights definitely worked out for the best. I could never manage the doubles – I can’t bite ice and if I attempted the double, more often than not, I’d end up with most its melted flourescent coloured-dye sticky stuff running down my wrist. Sharing the popsicle (ice lolly in UK) also meant everyone got to enjoy “the good” colours and not just get stuck with banana.
While I’m thinking of 70’s summers, I can’t help but transport us as well to Tony and Scott’s snack bar at Middlesex Swim Club. My dad happened to be the manager of the club one year and he told Tony and Scott (who were college kids at the time) that if they could make the budget he set them for the season, they could keep anything over the top…Meaning they could have a share of the profits. Genius. And I’m telling you those guys, who’d already been dazzling us with the best grilled cheeses (not to be confused with cheese burgers, Mary Kate), hot dogs, milk shakes, fries, and frozen Charleston Chews, took that idea and the snack bar to a whole new level with the prospect of that kinda sharing. We only lived a block from the swim club so ended up eating at home mostly, but for special treats, my mom gave us snack bar ticket books to last us all summer. Most of my tickets went to the aforementioned Charleston Chews. Tony and Scott would freeze those babies until serving. When you ordered one, they’d crack it on the counter so you could fish out perfect bite sized pieces to fit in your mouth and even better share with your friends. It really was the only way to make it through the 8 inch bar of nougat, caramel and chocolate without it going to goo; a sorry waste smeared inedibly into the wrapper.
So what can we share now? You know. Responsibilities – wearing masks, supporting all those sharing in the education of our children, share in the care of each other, share in the sorrow of loss, share our stories, share our worries, share a smile, share a thought, heck, share a joke.
I was looking up that Swedish proverb and the google universe sent me this video from 2014. I think it’s funny and definitely a good example of how sharing something, perhaps seemingly unsurmountable, even with strangers, seems to be made all the better for sharing. Watch it even if just to remind you of what the unmasked past looks like or what The Bumblebee Tuna Song, Gangam Style and What Does A Fox Say sound like…
Lastly could I suggest you share an experience? Definitely share in this seemingly endless marathon of an experience.
Which draws me to my concluding point to share with you. I don’t know if you heard but they held the official London Marathon this weekend. It was rescheduled from April and was run COVID style. Around 100 “elite” athletes ran the 26.2 miles on a special course around the city while another 43,000 from across 109 countries virtually ran the race on courses of their own choice/making. I think there was some special app they could sign into and make it all official. Anyway, I heard about this one lady who made it through her course in 4 hours and 46 minutes (the elite do it in closer to the 2+hour mark). 4 hours and 46 minutes. That’s incredible in my book. When I heard she persevered for that long I had to ask –How? How in the torrential rain and far colder temperatures than the April she would have trained for did she do it? How did she have the stamina and determination to carry on for that long? Well, I’ll tell you, she completed the whole marathon with her family and friends meeting her at different points across the race and running with her for awhile. She literally shared the experience across the people and the space and time to make it to the finish line.
I reckon COVID catches up with us all (right, Donald?) in more ways than testing positive. Hope this post goes a little way in letting you know you’re not alone. There’s a finish line out there even if it’s a bit theoretical at this time. For now, just rest easy, I got you, Babe.