A Pocket of Resistance: What a Funny Girl (You Used to Be)

As i get older faster, my damn near daily runs of six to ten to fourteen miles have tapered off to a fast walk of 3.2 miles on the hilly streets of my neighborhood three times on a good week. i have refused to do electronicize  my runs.

For years, i would put on my running shorts, shoes, and a tee shirt, stretch for about a minute or less and go for it. But now, required stretching and other things makes the preparation (and should take in the post stretching phase) about as long as the travel time.

i am hoping i can work back up to running this route and more, but for once in my life, i am not optimistic.

When i stopped the running part temporarily: still hoping of building up to a continuous run, the “Sprint 8” regimen, or the “10-20-30” routine, and settled into the daily speed walk routine, i also decided to try listening to my iPod, which Maureen has been doing for years. In my mostly solitary runs, i have enjoyed just thinking without worrying about putting it down on paper or computer, letting my mind wander, and enjoying the world running around me. So this change was difficult.

But on the first walk with those ear buds blasting away, i found a new solace.

For those who may not know, i was a deejay for WCOR AM/FM in Lebanon, paying my way through graduation at MTSU after a disastrous and wonderful two years at Vanderbilt. The deejay experience amplified my love of music of all types. As a result, my iPod has about 4700 songs of all genres except for rap, hiphop, etc. So when i am working or reading or just fooling around, i put my iPod on shuffle and just flat enjoy music.

So when i added the iPod ear bud experience to my speed walk, i found a new horizon.

i have always been a day runner. In the Navy in almost every command from the USS Anchorage on (1975), i ran at noon. i also would often run after work, especially when i lived on Coronado. But i have found if i now plan to run during the day, it nearly always gets put into the secondary priority, and i never make it

So i began my walk before most of the Pacific time gets up. Depending on many variables, i begin my walk just before or just after first light. Now that we have our cooler season (folks back east would laugh hysterically if i called it winter), I add some leggings and a long-sleeved tee to my wardrobe.

Thus this morning, i began my walk about ten minutes after sunrise, a bit late. Before i got much beyond our driveway, i ran into Ralph Lavage, our neighbor, walking his dog. We talked sports, as we  usually do, for several minutes before i resumed my walk.

i listened to Mose Allison, Grover Washington, Jimmy Reed, Jimmy Martin, Badi Assad, a portion of Beethoven’s Third Symphony, Sting, and Fleetwood Mac. But halfway up my hill and my turnaround point, a song played to which i listened with thoughts that i had not considered before.

i bought Frank Sinatra’s “Watertown” album when it came out in 1970, but i bought it in the Navy Exchange at the Sasebo, Japan Naval Base while my command supervised carrying Korean troops to Vietnam and back. It has remained one of my favorite albums. It is a sad album building upon a story conceived by Bob Guido, one of the Four Seasons, and Frank Holmes about a guy whose wife leaves him and their two boys in Watertown –There are at least eight Watertowns in the U.S., but i think the album name probably comes from Watertown, Connecticut.

The album was a Reprise album and did not do well on the market. i have found solace in the songs and have often fallen to sleep at night while it was playing.

But about two-thirds through my run, my iPod rotated to “What a Funny Girl (You Used to Be),” one of Sinatra’s songs on the album. Listening to the lyrics, i thought about the woman who Sinatra described. It was a composite of the three women who are most important in my life: Maureen, Blythe, and Sarah. The line about “freckles” is what piqued my thoughts about those three women. The woman for whom the singer yearned had qualities i found wonderful in all three, some in part and a few capturing all three.

i stopped and hit the rewind button to listen again. i was captivated. After all, i love these three women ole Frank was describing.

Yes, there was sadness, certainly intended in the album and the lyrics of this song. And there is sadness in my considering Maureen, Blythe, and Sarah as part of my life. Life changes; children leave, live in a different place, in a different time, with different ideas. Maureen and i are alone now, living in a house too big, but too much of us to yet let go. We are growing older and if all goes as well as we would like, emulating my parents, we still have twenty-plus years to be together. Our relationship has changed, and Maureen, one of the funny girls in the triad is different, not better or worse, just different. As am i.

And that is life.

So i listened to Frank crooning. i was in a good place. i love my funny girls.

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