Spring will come soon, and with spring comes spring cleaning; this year I’ve decided to tackle a job I’ve put off now for far too long. I’m ridding myself, this year, of things I’ve kept for no good reason.

Not the VHS tapes. Not that jar of rubber cement I can’t open. Not things like that lone green mitten, where Foofus—Foo, my cat—was certain I kept a cache of catnip hidden; the mitten with the half-eaten thumb, I should add, hanging now by less than a prayer.

I might need those things. I’m keeping them, and ridding myself of all the recurring memories and thoughts that squat in my brain, that step out from wherever they hide when I least expect it, and prance like a girl in her first beauty pageant.

Starting with this:


Beth I hear you calling,

but I can’t come home right now,

me and the boys are playing,

and we just can’t find the sound…


I hated that song. I hated KISS. So why are the lyrics to “Beth” in my head? Out they go, along with an odd piece (or two) of hometown business.

In Memphis, on weekends, at 11:45 p.m., this announcement came through the Summer Twin Drive-in speakers:


Snack bar open another fifteen minutes after that it’s closed for the evening thank you.


That message was followed, of course, by the Hanna-Barbera-like “Stretch and Fetch” ad, and then the Smithfield Barbecue commercial:


Way down in ol’ Virginia,

three hundred years ago,

Capt. John Smith and Pocahontas

smoked their meat and aged it slow.

They smoked it and they spiced it,

for flavor at its best;

genuine Smithfield Barbecue

surpasses all the rest!


The Smithfield Barbecue ad was part cartoon, part Coronet Instructional films; a classic, in other words. But it’s lived long enough rent free in my head.

It’s things like that, mostly. Then there are things I should probably toss, and won’t. “Terence, This is Stupid Stuff”, for instance. I know it by heart. I’ve known it by heart almost all of my life.

George Carlin’s list of the seven words you can’t say on television.

Pieces of Clarence Darrow’s speech in the trial of Leopold and Loeb.

Alex, in “A Clockwork Orange”. His parting shotI was cured alright.

My first telephone number.

These are the things that dance through my brain like maidens at maypoles. Spring will come soon, and some will be tossed. I don’t need old drive-in announcements, or the lyrics to “Beth” in my head.

But some things I can’t throw away. Like a silly black ball of fur and whiskers. The mitten’s still here. The thumb still hangs by less than a prayer.

It’s been almost two years. Foo is gone. 

The mitten, I keep. For no good reason.

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