A: Ribs are the only bones I know of that things stick to.
B: Other things are BRED in the bone, aren't they?
A: And what sticks best is lamb shanks and pot roasts.
B: What's with the meat? Oatmeal is the classic stick-to-the-ribs food.
A. Oh, yeah. I forgot. Oatmeal.
B: So are there any other "bone" stories you want to investigate?
A: Skin and bones. Bone marrow. Marrow bones. I love marrow bones. I USED to love marrow bones.
B: My new Italian cookbook has a recipe for steak alla something. The picture shows a grilled steak surrounded by half a dozen sawed-up marrow bones, ready to be sucked.
A: Cholesterol city, if you ask me.
B: What sticks to the bone. Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words wither my psyche.
[Here, we must imagine that A and B become one voice.]
I don't think that's how the saying goes. But who on earth would ever try to convince children that "words will never hurt me." They'll parrot that to a tormentor, but inside they know they're lying. They'll feel the conflict of saying it because they know that sticks and stones cause bruises that heal, but words cause bruises that don't show and never heal.
How many of us can cite verbatim phrases that bruised us: "I'll never forgive you"; "I don't know what your best feature is, but it's certainly not your nose!"; "You're a culinary idiot"; "Can't you do anything right?"; "What do you mean you got an A-? That's a loser's grade. Where is the A?"; "Pretty is as pretty does"; "It was her choice to live far away from us; let HER pay for it."
It's hard to dim these voices. Even with the tinnitus and even without the hearing aid, they come through loud and clear and unmistakable and unforgettable.
"Unforgettable. That's what you are. Unforgettable. Though near or far….That's why darling it's incredible that someone so unforgettable thinks that I am unforgettable, too." Little Midwestern teenagers hung on Nat King Cole's every syllable and carried his lyrics around for years. Believing them. Building a life on them, the more fools they.
Memory is not to be trusted. Where are the words my father spoke to me (did he ever speak words to me? Or was I just one of the crowd he told jokes to?). Instead of words from my father I have in my head the lyrics to Spike Jones songs ("It's a beautiful day for the races; Stoogeham is the favorite today…"; or "'Dja ever see a tin flute dancing?..."); Gordon Jenkins' Seven Dreams ("They're after me, they're after me, I cannot get away. For life is colored rosy red and death is colored grey…").
In our family, conversation is likely to be interrupted by a song. One comment reminds someone else of a lyric, which she then sings. Perhaps this is because all our interaction when we were young involved songs and not actual conversation.
When my sister Sari and I were in our teens, we developed the parlor trick of alternating the syllables of a song. I'd sing, "Once" and she'd immediately respond with "I". Had. A. Se. Cret. Love. We'd sing the whole song and then collapse with laughter. More fun to perform than to listen to, I'm sure.
My brother Mike went through a long period of spelling and pronouncing our names backwards. I was Nna Nosnhoj. He was Ekim Nosnhoj. And so on through all six of us. Nosnhoj is not a name you can easily forget.
Most of the Spike Jones records were Mike's, and all of the Homer & Jethro were his. I was too genteel, too upwardly mobile—too much of a snob, in short—to listen to Homer & Jethro. Now, though, I think I missed out on a good thing. Mike says they were satirical, a really funny pair.
I preferred Sarah Vaughan singing Mountain Greenery. "In our mountain greenery, where God paints the scenery, just two happy people together….Beans could have no keener reception in a beanery than our mountain greenery home."
Given the title of this rambling essay, the only way to end is with "The foot bone's connected to the –ankle bone. The ankle bone's connected to the—leg bone…" And so forth.