Friday, July 2, 2010

Mairzy Doats

We awoke Friday to rain, rain, rain, so we skipped our morning swim lesson and headed to the Museum of Flight.

There's a really cool World War II permanent exhibit there. It's filled with all sorts of WWII memorabilia-- leather bomber jackets, medals, propaganda videos, huge black and white photos of handsome flying aces from Nebraska or Maryland or wherever, etc., and a big collection of real fighter planes, with the noses colorfully painted showing which squadron they belonged to.

In the back of the room, in a large open space next to a P-47D Thunderbolt (it's a plane. impressive. I know) painted with an Ace of Spades and the words "Big Stud", sits an old-fashioned radio. There are several "stations" you can tune to, playing actual broadcasts from 1944, along with music. This is where my kids love to play.

Their favorite song is a rousing 19?? recording of "Mairzy Doats". You know, the old song:

"Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?
If the words sound queer and funny to your ear, a little bit jumbled and jivey,
Sing 'Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.'"

Betty and Rhodes just CUT THE RUG back there, playing that song over and over, spinning, leaping, clapping, swaying, rolling around. It's sort of ridiculous, but, it's so far in the back of that huge, dark room that no one's bothered by it.

My feet were feeling a little numb. (Mildly alarming, but just another neat side effect of this blessed experience). So I sat on a bench and watched them burn off all kinds of energy to this jazzy number. Finally, a family approached. There were a man and woman in their 60s(?), pushing a wheelchair with an old timer on board. He looked REALLY OLD. He had this look of fascinated nostalgia in his eyes, and he'd run his fingers along various artifacts as he passed them. I gather he was a WWII vet. (He looked like he may have also fought in WW1, if you get my drift.)

He sat up straight when he heard the music. His lips started mouthing the lyrics. Then he noticed my kids, in full dance party mode. His eyes completely lit up, and he motioned for his daughter to push him over near the kids. He started clapping and grooving with his shoulders. Betty's little pink dress ballooned out as she spun circles around him. Rhodes high-fived him repeatedly. They were all boogying and whooping with joy. A few people and a museum docent stopped to watch and clap and sway. Each time the song ended, one of my kids would hit replay, and they'd continue dancing.

For some reason, I felt touched by the whole scene. It was nothing grand or significant, just the discovery of an improbable connection in an unlikely place. But it was somehow joyous. I love it when that kind of thing happens. Life can be so sweet.

p.s.--I just re-read what I've written. I will publish it, but I'm acutely aware of how much it sounds like a cheesy email forward you might receive from an old friend. (young kids bonding with veteran. dancing ensues. life lesson taught.) Forgive me. xoxo


  1. You're forgiven, even though you just made my mascara run.

  2. Yeah, it's a bit dusty in here if you get my meaning. Thank you for sharing that with me. Made my morning. Was sitting here thinking about how stressed I am with all that is going on in my life and... humility strikes again!

    I've been to that exhibit. My grandfather was a WWII pilot.

  3. Hahahahah!! Shelly, you crack me up!! I LOVE your writings!!! I know I've said it before, but I feel like I'm right there with you, watching whatever is happening that you are writing about!! You have such a way with words! :) Great story!!!

  4. thanks, shel. i think it's really fascinating, too, the way the oldest and the youngest among us tend to gravitate toward one's beautiful, really...seems like somehow the circle closes at moments like that (i know, talk about CHEESY). What i also find curious, though, are the songs that kids particularly like--mairzy boats? really? gotta hear this one...