Saturday, May 23, 2009

`It's Runnin', Ain't It?'

The special-education class where I worked Friday was rehearsing for an upcoming talent show. Five kids, five acts. The sole girl honed her contortionist’s routine to a recording of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” A boy assembled, disassembled and reassembled a model truck. Another spun five hula-hoops around his waist for two minutes. His friend did an interpretive dance he called “The Tuna.”

My favorite performer, however, was a boy singer. He marched around the room singing an up-tempo and highly repetitive lyric with a familiar melody. I asked him to slow down and sing more clearly, I couldn’t understand the words. “It's in Russian,” he replied. Well, that made sense. Could he sing it again, this time in English? He launched lustily into “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”

Over lunch in the staff room I was rereading a collection of Whitney Balliett’s profiles of jazz musicians. In “Big T,” devoted to the great trombonist-singer Jack Teagarden, whose hobby was tinkering and inventing things, Balliett writes:

“Sometimes he built machines simply for the sake of building them. He constructed one that filled a room, and when he was asked what it did he replied, `Why, it’s runnin’, ain’t it?’”

1 comment:

Rebecca V. O'Neal said...

Aimlessly kinetic ... as so many things and people are.