My wife is constantly proving that she is an incredibly tolerant woman. Well, to a point. I mean yes, she will go to Octoberfest and only visibly cringe a little while I grin away in sheer joy and contentment under the big tent drinking beer and watching the costumed crowds dance to the accordion and tuba-driven oompa music. I know she’d rather eat pierogis, kielbasa and potato salad just about anywhere else besides that loud tent but she goes because it makes me happy.
I try not to push her too far. Like I would never dream of asking her to sit with me while I watch ancient reruns of the old Lawrence Welk show. I know… I’m crazy, but I’ve secretly watched them for years. Its not just the schmaltzy music, its the outfits, hair and attitudes that provide a surreal semi-warped fictitious perspective of a bygone era. It’s like a twisted manipulated snapshot of the idealized version of the world that my parents and grandparents thought they should be living in. The people, the clothes, the music all remind me of the simplicity of my life when I was a very little boy.
Or maybe that is all rationalization and I just get a big kick out of polka music because in a weird convoluted way it is imprinted onto my DNA.
Nestled aside the lush shores of the Netta River in the northeast corner of Poland is the ‘relaxation’ resort town of Augustow. Currently known for its many stunning lakes, therapeutic spas and 19th century canal, that certainly was not the case in 1557 when it was granted city rights by it’s namesake, grumpy mean King Sigismund ll Augustus, who though married three times including to two sisters, remained childless. Maybe that’s why the guy acted like he had a Pole up his butt.
Still far from being a lux tourist hot-spot, the city of Augustus was more known for its cattle and horse trade while under Russia’s tyrannical rule in the mid-1800s. That era was when some of my earliest traced ancestors lived in the region. That part of the world was definitely considered Russia when my Grandfather was born there in 1900. He escaped fighting in the army and migrated to America before things got really ugly during World War 1 and 2 when the Germans and Soviets repeatedly battled until eventually in 1944 when the Nazis executed most of the remaining residents while destroying over 70% of the city.
So you see, it makes perfect sense that I like accordion music from Poland and Germany. Switzerland is not too far either, so toss yodeling into the mix too, although the US version of yodeling is more derivative of the pitch hopping songs of the African pygmy and Bantu tribes. Should I be embarrassed that I know this stuff. I don’t get to talk about it much, like I said, my wife only has only so much patience and tolerance so I try not to waste it on things like this.
Although the other day we were talking about earworms. Those songs that get stuck in your head that you find yourself repeatedly singing for hours, days or weeks. Recently I could not shake the Roy Orbison song Crying from my brain. Over and over when I least expected it, my brain was suddenly singing the chorus. I tried everything to get rid of it. I listened to other catchy tunes, watched hook-laden TV commercials and even played the Badger, Badger, Badger video in an attempt to override it.
Then as quick as it got stuck in my head, poof it was gone. Suddenly replaced by Blue Yodel #8, the 1930 Jimmie Rodgers song better known as Mule Skinner Blues. It was not the beer-tent or countri-fied versions of the oft recorded song circling my skull but instead the wackier electric guitar one by The Fenderman recorded in 1960.
The wife and I have a warm relationship based on love, sharing, openness and honesty, but do I really want to push her tolerance level by repeatedly singing and playing Mule Skinner Blues repeatedly around the house? I have made her sit through The Shaggs, William Shatner and The Bobs. Just this past Saturday before going to sleep I made our little bedside Alexa play Who Put The Benzedrine In Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine. But repeated playings of Mule Skinner Blues? There is only so much a relationship can handle.