Halo, Everybody, Halo
LC Van Savage
Around 30+ days from now I’ll be not celebrating my 70th. Now that’s a scary one. I never minded the start of any other decade of my life, but 70? What? When did that happen? I was 19 just a blink ago, the age when my life really began.
Nah. I’m not worried about that. I’m still here and everything’s working OK, just a whole lot slower, so no need for me to fret about the encroaching Big Seven O. What I am worried about however, are the long ago and long forgotten things that are surfacing in my brain and blasting out of my mouth with absolutely no warning.
I’m sure there are good, sound reasons for these things bubbling up at this vintage, but they’re so weird. And not only weird, they seem to be gradually narrowing to only one category; old, old radio jingles from when I used to listen to the radio all the time as a kid. No ear phones. No tiny square gizmo in my pocket. Just a big old wooden radio in my bedroom with a glowing, yellow dial.
I listened to all the offered dramas, and of course music, and back in those ancient times, it was music with a strong melody and a story to tell and a feeling to give. I loved it and like many of us of the septuagenarian persuasion I can still sing all the lyrics and tunes to all the musical compositions written from around 1920 and on. Well, “on” to around 1950.
Part of the fun of radio back then were the commercials. There was no TV yet, so the ad people had to come up with some jazzy memorable tunes to make buyers, who couldn’t see the product on a TV screen, go out and buy it. And here’s the troubling part; the tunes. I’m waking up with them, they’re surfacing at embarrassing moments, they fly into my brain in the middle of conversations with people who I hope don’t realize they’re conversing with someone whose brain is being overtaken by aliens from commercial radio of the 1940s.
For example, I awoke a couple of weeks ago and as I staggered to the loo, to Mongo’s bleary confusion, I began singing, not lustily but loudly enough, the old Rheingold beer commercial. Wanna hear it? OK, I’ll sing it now; “My beer is Rheingold the dry beer/Think of Rheingold whenever you buy beer/It’s not bitter, not sweet/Extra dry flavored treat/Won’t you try extra dry Rheingold beer?” Howzat? I don’t drink beer but I think Rheingold doesn’t exist anymore or if it does, I never see it around here although in truth I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to beer displays. But that morning and throughout the day, I could not stop singing that ditty.
Next came the Pepsi Cola jingle; “Pepsi Cola hits the spot/Twelve ounce bottles, that’s a lot/Twice as much and a nickel too/Pepsi Cola is the drink for you! NickelNickelNickelNickleNickel.” Yep, twelve full ounces for a nickel! Candy bars too. A person could get way sugared up and unbelievably hyper for ten measly cents. Life was really good back then.
Once while driving to a small Maine town, up came an old song I sang loudly in church back when I was an unfallen Episcopalian. I had not heard it since I was a child and didn’t hear it much then either, because it was pretty tuneless, confusing and awful even to our wanna-be-opera-singer minister Father Godolphin who, I think, tore that page from all the hymnals at old St. Andrew’s on Staten Island; it was that bad. But it clearly made an impression on my very young mind because nearly 7 decades later I very abruptly and with no warning began wailing it in the car as I drove.
Then came the sexist commercial tune for the washing machine detergent, “Rinso White.” That hit while I was picking up a granddaughter from school. It was short but punchy: “Rinso White!/Rinso Bright!/Happy little washday song!” That’s it.
About a week later the Life Buoy soap commercial popped out of my face, although all I could really sing was the ending, a very deep and low-note “BEEE-yo!” like a fog horn sounding on a foggy night. Embarrassing, but everyone bought the stuff back then because to have BO was a serious social gaffe. Kinda like it is today although back then, the Life Buoy soap people were breaking new ground.
Tonight driving home after doing a VO (voice over) for our TV show “incredibleMAINE” I began to sing the Cream of Wheat jingle; “Cream of Wheat is so good to eat/We can have it every day/Makes us strong and to something song/And it makes us shout HURRAY!/For all your family’s something/for something something something/La La La La La Laaaaaa/You can’t beat Cream of Wheat!” Hey, I’m 70 soon. I can’t be expected to remember everything, you know.
Why do these old tunes suddenly bubble up into my 70 year old brain, when they haven’t been heard for maybe 60 or more years? Should I be worried? Is it a sign? Of what? Lucifer coming to call? A worm in my brain? Brain rot? Should I seek professional help? It’s getting worse. Scary. I gotta go. But wait, don’t forget folks, a little dab’ll do ya.
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