June in January
It is only now, after my tea has infused and my testicles have descended from somewhere deep within my abdomen, that I can enjoy this other part of winter, the one from near an open kitchen door, behind a steamy window, thawing among thawing people. This is the part that Bing Crosby tried to sell in the television specials he shot in warm weather between rounds of golf.
I mention old Bing because Bing is, of course, the God of Winter. Or because Bing is on the stereo when I walk into the used book store near the old hay market. The record crackles on the turntable and the cover shows Bing's crackled face (Morocco bound) under a fishing hat. It is his last recording. He finished it, flew to Spain, played a game of golf, and keeled over on the way to the clubhouse. As I walk in from the snow, Bing sings a jazzy rendition of "In the Good Old Summertime" and I hear no irony in his voice even though birds crystalize in midair and fall from the sky this morning. The sugary backup singers go long stretches without Bing, as if he is sitting and catching his breath.
The man at the book store talks to me of Bing as if I must be interested in Bing and knowledgeable of his life and career. He marvels that, as he has read on the back of the album cover, no one is sure when Bing was born. But, I tell him, we are all sure Bing is dead. Yes, he says, Bing is dead and Franek Sinatra (he says Franek) is dead, Franek Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack are all dead except Dean Martin. He believes Dean Martin is old but alive and I am willing to let him believe this.
The woman who appears from the back of the store tells me she is a painter, a poet, and something to do with strewing wildflowers. I don't understand the word she uses, but wildflower strewer sounds exactly right. I am certain she makes time to be a regular strewer of wildflowers. She asks me if I prefer beer or whisky, I think to determine whether I am Irish, and then she gets out an album by a hairy group of fellows called the Dubliners. But I must run, I am sorry, I must go, I must buy this cheap little book I'll never read and I must dash into the street.