A Moment's Notice:
Striving for Awareness of Each Moment,
Reflecting on Events of the Moment
When the ratio of wrinkled blouses to pressed ones becomes shamelessly close I finally pull my iron off the wire shelf in my bedroom. I unfold the ironing board with its characteristic squeal (which all such boards possess---test this in any hotel room) and set to work.
I usually watch TV as I iron, putting my hands on auto-pilot as my conscious brain unravels a mystery on “NCIS” or figures out how the boy will get the girl (or vice versa) at the end of a Hallmark Channel movie. Straighten out the collar, back and forth then back again, move on to one sleeve.
This morning I had time to iron only the blouse I planned to wear today so I didn’t haul the iron and board in front of the TV; I listened to my iPod instead. And so I stumbled upon the concept of the three-minute novel.
Allison Krauss and Union Station told me a story of love finally found and soon to be lost. Ms. Krauss gave voice to a woman who begs her beloved to stay---hasn’t she built her world around him? Can’t he see he is the foundation of her world, even if she doesn’t occupy that same place in his heart?
At least the heartbroken protagonist of that tale lived to tell it, even if not happily ever after. The narrator of Marty Robbins’s “El Paso” wasn’t so lucky. Another love story, this one unrequited from beginning to end---that bewitching Felina didn’t even seem to care that the cowboy loved her with all of his heart. He loved her so much that he was compelled to shoot a handsome stranger for flirting with her. The storyteller then describes his frantic escape on a stolen horse and his equally frantic return to Felina, a return driven by his overwhelming ardor.
Our cowboy is killed of course; whether it’s for the murder of the handsome stranger or the theft of the horse is not clear. But just when I’m ready to dismiss Felina as a cold-hearted wench she rushes to him and cradles him as his arms as he dies. At least he did get one kiss out of the whole mess.
One sleeve then another. Now on to the front , then turn the shirt around to the back, and finally complete the rotation. The wrinkles disappear beneath the iron’s steaming sole plate as the singers weave their stories.
There is much to be said for the novelists I’ve enjoyed in my youth and adulthood: Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien, Bernard Malamud, Justin Cronin, and Susan Howatch, to name a few. But they have tens of thousands of words to develop characters, advance a plot, and put together a seamless conclusion. Songwriters have a few dozen at most, but that’s more than enough for the most talented among them.
My favorite song of the moment is “Something That We Do,” recorded by Clint Black and written by Black and Skip Ewing. It doesn’t lend itself to mental movie making as “El Paso” does but I think it does give an accurate definition of love in the real world, and that’s no small thing.
What is your favorite song? Is it a novel or a poem? Let me know in the “Comments” box below.