just ponderin'

… on fall, my red rubber coat, and skip to my lou

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFall is my favorite.

Oh my Gosh, do you know what I just realized? It’s after noontime.

We can have a glass of wine, instead of coffee today. Let’s do it!

So, ya. Fall is my favorite time of year.

I’m not sure why, exactly.  I mean, I’m a New England gal (though the use of ‘gal’ would make you think I was from Texas. I should make up for that by using my own native accent…) boahn an’ raized (wait, ‘raised’ sounds the same whether I spell it with a ‘z’ or not. Plus, you could read that with a Boston accent, or a Bronx accent. I have no control over that. I could be a Red Sox fan or a guy named Vinnie who is sitting with you at your kitchen table, calmly explaining why it might be a good idea if you didn’t testify in that racketeering trial you have planned for Tuesday. )

Oh my Gosh.

Did I make you nervous?

Go ahead and testify. I’m a Red Sox fan, not Vinnie from the Bronx.

Prove it?

Fine.

Y-a-s-t-r-Z-e-m-s-k-i.

I know. All Red Sox fans’ parents teach us to spell Yastrzemski’s name when we’re like, three.

It’s a thing.

Anyway, do you think that fall is my favorite because I’m a Red Sox fan? It absolutely isn’t.  Is it because the leaves drift, slowly spinning, carpeting the ground with a gold, red, and orange explosion of color, and portending a period of seasonal rest and recovery?

Well, that would be the reason if I were feeling melancholy and reflective. Perhaps a little forlorn, disconsolate, and woebegone.

Yes. I pulled up the synonym widget again.

I can’t help it!

I love that thing. It’s like a word toy box.

No. I won’t pick up my words and put them away.

DOLEFUL!

Okay I’m done.

By the way, doleful means ‘expressing sorrow; mournful’.

Look at you, you sound wicked smaht now! Did you wake up this morning thinking you would be adding to your already impressive vocabulary?

Just Ponderin’ at your service.

So, no, fall isn’t my favorite season because that’s when I get to play with my thesaurus (though it is a good enough reason). I mean, I’m a pretty deep-thinking person. All sorts of reflective. And I’m pretty sure that I have a solid rationale for fall being my favorite. And I don’t want to hold out on you any more because I’m also wicked empathetic and I can feel you getting antsy for the reason, and I understand that because now that you are so smaht, your brain needs to be stimulated by deep thinking stuff.

Fashion.

Fall is my favorite because of fashion.

Fashion and fires (fi-yahs) in the fi-yah place.

But mostly fashion.

Because when I was a little kid and fall came around, I was all about fashion, baby.

I was also as maleable and gullible as they came in 1969.

Which leads me to my beloved…

Red.

Rubber.

Coat.

Once again, I shit you not.

Allow me to explain.

Kim Bionelli was the beautiful, older girl neighbor upstairs who was mysterious and she was….yes…. a grader.

Which. Was. Huge.

Because I had no grade yet. Because I was in pre-school.

It would be years until I could use a number and a grade to define myself.

I was easily two years away from being in first grade. I had to make it through pre-school and kindergarten before I would be anywhere near Kim Bionelli’s greatness.

Anyway, Kim Bionelli’s younger brother John Bionelli was my best friend. And that was great because it gave me a lot of access to Kim. Also, my mom and Mrs. Bionelli were friends from the old neighborhood (don’t I so sound Italian now? Maybe I did have an uncle Vinnie, who was a made man and from the Bronx and who did indeed encourage people not to testify. What. You can’t prove that I didn’t.).

Anyway, sometimes Mrs. Bionelli would send down some of Kim’s old clothes because they might fit me.

This was very exciting.

So one day, my mother brings home this coat.

It was red.  And rubber.

Not ‘pleather’ or ‘vinyl’.

Rubber.

And I was no dummy.

This was not a good coat.

I may not have had any knowledge of labels or fashion icons, and maybe I couldn’t even spell ‘Chanel’ or ‘Eve Sant Lawren’ at the time, but I knew enough about fashion to know that a rubber coat was not okay.

In the inimitable words of Joan Cusack in Working Girl, “It’s not even leathah!”

So I eyed it suspiciously and asked my excited mother if it was from Kim Bionelli. And she said, and I am not kidding, “No. But if it was her size, she would wear it.”

And I still was not convinced.

And then my mother pulled a line out of God knows where. One that she used successfully for years to come, and that put me into the crosshairs of mean girls from Somerville to Tewksbury over the course of my elementary school life.

All the teenagers are wearing them.”

No matter how many times I rejected an item of clothing she excitedly brought home from the thrift shop, or a yard sale, or a generous friend or neighbor, if my mother said, “All the teenagers are wearing it.” I would believe her and happily put on the item that I had just sworn was the worst, least fashionable item of clothing ever conceived of.

And I would do it with a smile.

And then I would get to school.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photographic proof! Me, John Bionelli, and my red rubber coat. Chanel and Eve Sant Lawren eat your heart out.

And then I would come home and stuff that piece of clothing in my little sister’s drawer and try to pass it off as having always been hers, as if she was not three years younger than me and still wearing a onesie.

But at the time I received my red rubber coat, I was only four years old and I didn’t push back very hard at all.

And that fall, I proudly wore that red rubber coat into Miss Emma’s Nursery School, and thus began a season of happy coloring and finger painting and endless singing and clapping and dancing to ‘Skip to my Lou”, the emotions of which wrap me in autumn’s warm, splendiferous feeling to this very day.

Oh my Gosh.

Skip to my Lou.

Did you sing that as a little kid too?

We begged to sing that song at the end of every single class. Here’s how it worked:

A bunch of innocent children formed a circle. A little girl was chosen to go into the center of the circle for the first verse and she sang, “Fly’s in the buttermilk, shoo fly shoo” (repeated three times. I just didn’t have the energy to type it more than once because I’m almost half way through my glass of wine (and, yes, that explanation was more keystrokes than typing “Fly’s in the buttermilk, shoo fly shoo” three times – see, I just did it again – but writing requires a lot of dramatic effect so that’s what I’m doing. You would understand if you were an experienced writer like me. Like if you had four or so months under your belt.))

Wait a minute.

I think the ‘Skip to my Lou’ memory box just cracked open in my brain, and I am experiencing a feeling of horror (or dread. I don’t know and I don’t have time to click on the synonym widget because of the perturbation clouding my brain (Ya. I totally looked that one up (I can’t help it!)).

I just realized that the song was taught to us right at the point in development where our little morals and values were cementing in our brains – which I know is theorized now to happen between the ages of four and six because I have kids and needed to know how to brainwash them.

Oh my Gawd.

So the little girl sang the buttermilk part and when it got to the chorus, all the other kids, like, square-danced their way around the circle and then the next verse began and a little boy got to go in the center of the circle. And he sang:  “Lost my partner, what’ll I do?” three times, and then we all sang: “Skip to my Lou my darlin'” and danced and chorused and all that.  But then he got to sing,  “I’ll get another one prettier than you, I’ll get another one prettier than you, I’ll get another one prettier than you…” and he got to choose another one.

He got to choose a prettier partner!

That is so much more twisted than choosing teams for dodge ball (which was still legal then, along with tag and setting off fireworks inside your house).

I’ll find another one prettier than you.

And we all hoped that we would be chosen. Well, except the boys. Because in 1969, no one was gay.  Seriously. I don’t remember one, single boy coming out of the closet in Miss Emma’s nursery school class.

Which is, like, proof.

And also, I’m pretty sure the bell-bottom-donning feminists like Gloria Steinem found out that Skip to my Lou was a sisterhood-crushing propaganda tool. This is because I can’t find anything about the Patriarchal Preservation Society (PPS) that must surely have been responsible for establishing the practice of all little girls and boys in the late ’60s learning Skip to My Lou, thus indoctrinating them all into patriarchy and the perpetuation of a male-dominated society through the means of sports team choosing-like shaming.

After they were exposed, the PPS lasted for another decade or so, operating in the shadows, before they were re-named the Department of Education.

Renamed.

No government agency ever truly goes out of business. If they get too controversial, it says in the Constitution that the President can hire a big-time Madison Avenue advertising agency to come up with a new name and marketing slogan. Everyone knows that.

You watch. In about six more months, the NSA will be “decommissioned” and, in its place will be a name that evokes trust or happiness or both.

Like LASSIE.

And it will only be later that we find out that, internally to the organization, LASSIE is an acronym for Logistical Ass-kicking Super Secret Investigators of Everything.

It happens all the time.

Everything comes down to marketing.

Even ‘Skip to my Lou’ was changed from ‘Skip to my Loo’. ‘Loo’ was supposedly the Scottish word for ‘love’. I don’t know why they Americanized it.  Maybe it was because there were still a lot of British kids hanging around during our frontier period when the song was popular, and instead of dancing in a circle, they kept skipping to the bathroom.

I can’t look up all the answers for you. Some of this you’re gonna have to do on your own time.

Which is, like now.

I have to put more wood on my fi-yah.

Have a great day!

Thanks for readin’

note:  Because I care about you, I never enabled ‘comments’ on the blog itself. This allows you to sip your coffee (or wine) without fear of someone saying negative nasty things about fall, or Skip to my Lou or my red rubber coat. Also, you will not see people posting about Low Testosterone (LT), Erectile Dysfunction (ED), or other male-oriented acronym-required issues – the solutions for which are commonly addressed through spamming and advertisements on the Internet. Not so much with women-specific issues like Porcelain-Begotten Late Night Frozen and Bruised Bum Syndrome caused by an upright toilet seat.

Anyway, come on over to Just Ponderin’s facebook page to comment (you can do that from here or from the button on the left of the homepage). Maybe you can see all that LT, ED, and PBLNFBBS stuff over there too. Who knows!

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