"Sing me a dirge, will ya?" asks Dave.
We're on the way home from Christmas shopping, driving in a snowstorm. The roads are solid ice and there are cars in the ditch up and down the highway.
I start singing the first thing that pops in my head:
"Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out.
She'd wash the dishes and scrub the pans,
Cook the yams and spice the hams
And though her parents would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out."
Why this song by Shel Silverstein pops into my head at this moment is a mystery to me.
Also to Dave. "What IS that?"
Dave is younger than me. Also, not as weird. Sometimes he doesn't know stuff I do. Important stuff, like who Todd Rundgren is and what he (Dave, not Todd) was doing when John Lennon died (I think he was still in public school – I was in my first year of journalism school).
In the 1970s I was a teenager living on the outskirts of Toronto, where top 40 radio station CFTR was king. Every morning I would wake up to to the weird morning man who had a roster of equally weird songs, most of them stolen from the Dr. Demento radio show.
One of the shows he played regularly was Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout.
I have forgotten almost everything I learned in high school, except that silly song.
The man who wrote it, Shel Silverstein, was a real Renaissance man. A renowned illustrator, he drew children's books and cartoons for Playboy magazine. He wrote books, he wrote plays, he wrote songs. Did you know he wrote A Boy Named Sue for Johnny Cash? Or On The Cover of Rolling Stone for Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show?
The man was amazing.
And here's the proof: I can still quote Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout but darn if I can remember when garbage day is.