Sometimes I wonder if I work for the money or the stories.
Since this writing gig doesn’t produce income (not yet, anyway; I’m an optimist) I make my mad money working as a substitute for teachers and clerical staff in our district’s elementary schools. (Actually, I can’t afford to get terribly angry based on the current rates. A more accurate term would be “mildly peeved money.”) I don’t get any benefits, of course, not even a badge that would get me a discount at local restaurants during Teacher Appreciation Week. I do get incredible flexibility with my schedule and for this I am most grateful.
But the stories are priceless.
Like the kindergartner who struggled with my name before finally deciding to call me “Mrs. Butterworth.” Or the first grader who solemnly approached my desk with his arms outstretched, asking me if I needed a hug. (I did, by the way.) Or the time I leaned down to tie a child’s shoes only to have him grab two handfuls of my hair. It took three adults to pull him off and I have yet to need Botox.
And then there’s the man with his own soundtrack.
The other secretary I was working with that day had heard the music when he called to say he was coming by to pick up his child. It was still playing on his phone when we buzzed him into the office.
He was Latino, in his late twenties or early thirties. He wore a tailored gray sport coat over a T shirt and jeans and his hair was perfectly styled. And the music blaring over his phone: Merle Haggard.
No, not really.
It was salsa. Or at least what sounds like salsa to me. When Older Son married his beloved in her native Colombia their wedding reception included four or five hours of salsa dancing. Best party ever. (Any exercise I do is meant to keep me dancing as long as I can.)
This gentleman was infused with his music. He practically swayed as he signed out his child. I had to restrain myself from handing him the pen with a flourish, followed by a La La Land chorus line moment.
Salsa Dad’s brief cameo came to mind this week as I converted tapes of Pettit home movies to DVD. Mr. Pettit’s late mother was ahead of her time when she had their Super 8 memories copied to VHS over 20 years ago and a step up, technology-wise, was long overdue. (Although it only buys me a little time before I’ll need to go into flash-drive territory or whatever the next big thing might be.)
The folks who created the VHS tapes added a soundtrack of tunes from the 1960’s, the era when the movies were made. Nice idea, right? But it gets a little weird sometimes: “Whiter Shade Of Pale,” “Nights in White Satin” and “Sunshine of Your Love” don’t fit scenes of family beach vacations and little boys jumping from present to present on Christmas morning. (Generational Outreach: Ask Mr. YouTube about the aforementioned songs.)
Which song would I choose to accompany me wherever I go? I’ve had several over my lifetime, including “Love Will Keep Us Together” by the Captain and Tennille when Mr. Pettit and I were dating, “Amazing Grace” after Daddy died, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” as our time in the Air Force ended and “Something That We Do” by Clint Black when Younger Son got married. (If you look up only one song I’ve mentioned please choose the last. It’s the best description of love I’ve heard outside 1 Corinthians 13.)
As I prepare to publish my first book I think I need a new theme song. I’m open to suggestions.