Friday, September 04, 2009

RE: September Song



From: Wade Porter
Sent: Friday, September 04, 2009 11:50 AM
To: Wade Porter
Subject: September Song


Oh it’s a long long  while from May to December

But the days grow short when you reach September

When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame

One hasn’t got time for the waiting game.    Weil and Anderson   “September Song”  from “The Knickerbocker’s Holiday” (1938)



Try to remember the kind of September

When life was slow and oh so mellow.

Try to remember the kind of September

When grass was green and grain  was yellow

Try to remember the kind of September

When you were a tender and callow fellow.   Schmidt and Jones, “Try to Remember” from “The Fantasticks” (1960)



You can look at Septmeber  any number of ways. I always look at it fondly because it means that the month of August, which is tied with February for the worst month of the year, is over. The writers above looked at September in two different ways, but both teams were using Septmeber as a metaphor for a particular time of life. Looking at a life span as a year is a traditional metaphor, and it is a good one. Not that metaphors have that much to commend them. Metaphors are really  only half a loaf (get it ?). A metaphor is what is left remaining  after the myth is no longer believed. It is myths that speak the truth to us. Metaphors are just descriptions. Short hand renditions of the truth. They spring from the mind of a single writer (before they are stolen by others) and not from the collective memories of the human species,  as does the myth.


I am, in the words of Sinatra, in  “the autumn of the year”. I like to think that it is September, but I am sure that more than a few of my friends believe that I am more closely approaching Halloween than Labor Day. But it’s my blog, and September it shall be. Weil and Anderson say that the days are growing short. I guess that’s the traditional view (before the institution of daylight savings time, which now runs through Novemeber). Of course these fellows were writing during the depression when the life expectancy of an individual was shorter. I like to think that October is the new September and that a lot of us may survive at least until next year’s Groundhog Day (are you starting to see the limits of metaphor?).


But assuming that the old limits still apply, the days are going to “trickle down to a precious few” here at any time, if Weil and Anderson are to be believed. “September….November…”, the message is clear, soon comes the chilling frost, even in Austin, where that metaphor is normally as useless as seatbelts in  a New Hampshire car. That last phrase was really more of a simile.


But then we have the more optimistic tones of Schmidt and Jones. Where we look back on Septmembers as wonderful times, when not only was the grass green, but you (and I) were tender and callow fellows. Will my September find me tender and callow ? To say that you are callow implies that you know what the word means. Callow comes from the German word for bald and for some reason has come to refer to an immature youth, or, more appropriately, unsophisticated (when it is used at all).I don’t think that Schmidt and Jones meant “Tender and bald fellow” Why would that be such a pleasant memory ?


I am many things, none of them are callow, with the exceptions of some parts of my hairline. Still, I like the idea of looking back on these September days with great fondness. September is, like January, a beginning. It goes back to when we were in school and started afresh every year (except in Geometry, which for me was sort of a dejavu experience all thorough high school).It was fun to buy the new school supplies. The 64 color crayon pack with the pencil sharpener was a little out of my league, but there was enough to make me happy. Fountain pens and cartridges which would stain a callow fellow all up and down his shirt sleeves. Rounded scissors, Big chief Tablets, Loose leaf notebooks with the little circle enforcers. On top of that, new jeans and shoes and shirts, a “back to school haircut”. The list of the “newness” of it all was endless, new schools, new teachers, new friends, new enemies, after awhile new cute girls.


I’d like to feel that kind of September again. Actually, I’d like to feel a Currier and Ives September just once. Blowing leaves and crisp autumn days, no one sweltering at a  football game. The things we saw in our reading books every year in elementary school in the “back to school” stories. But I’d even settle for a Texas September, unless it included the occasional Hurricanes we had to deal with.


I wish everyone, in the September of their lives, or  who is just excited about the beginnings inherent in the real September a great Labor Day weekend. Don’t forget to put away the white shoes until  next Easter (white shoes being a metaphor here).




Blogger Jannie Funster said...

I think YOUR September is probably actually more of a late July!

We had Big Chief note pads too! We used them for spelling. I was gud at speling. What happened?

And apologies for throwing Nora Roberts in your face again, but yes, something about a freshly sharpened bouquet of pencils in (New York) autumn. A new leather satchel. Glue and erasers, the smell of it all.

Autumn in New York
why does it feel so inviting.
Shimmering crowds
glittering clouds (or vice versa?)
in canyons of steel
are making me feel... I'm home.

Now I'm all weepy, or potentially so.

And Neil Diamond. September Song, right?

4:01 PM  

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