Saturday , March 2 2024
Happy anniversary!

Verse Chorus Verse: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – “Girls In Their Summer Clothes”

In a lovely twist of fate, my ninth entry in the "Verse Chorus Verse" series coincides with my ninth wedding anniversary.

I always feel like such a fraud and a failure when I set out to write about my wife. I feel like a hack because I'm never able to get within three time zones of how I feel and like a fraud because I wind up resorting to mimicking another writer who might have a template that at least comes close. After giving it some thought, I've decided the problem isn't me. I’m blaming English.

I'm not sure if it's true, but more than once I've heard someone say Eskimos have a dozen (or more!) words for "snow." They have an absurd number of words for snow, but we only have one word for "love." We love our favorite food, our favorite sport, our favorite song, our pets, our moms, our children, our schools, our jobs, our gods, and/or our planet and we use the same word for each of them. We don't "radish" our school and "blemish" our kids. We love them both and we expect that everyone understands the difference and they usually do, but isn't it a shame that we're limited by our language to express it?

We have very few synonyms and only a few weak modifiers to convey an infinite range of emotions. Not only is there only one "love," we don't even have many choices when it comes to describing love's intensity or depth.

"I love you so much."

"I love you very much.”

"I am so in love with you."

Once we've exhausted those, we're left with simile and metaphor because the language is fresh out of other options. Simile and metaphor are nice and I've read some writers who have done wondrous things with the devices to convey feelings of love. I suppose that's what the gifted writers do and I'm just not one of them. Still, love seems too important for we, the littles, to have to work this hard at it. Merriam and Webster added "locavore" to their dictionary but haven't gotten any less stingy with "love." There has to be something between Shakespeare and Hallmark.

I'm working on it.

My wife and I don't have an official "our" song. When she reads this, she'll disagree with me, but more than one song has been declared "our" song. We didn't have a formal wedding, so we can't even default to the song we first danced to. I said all that to say that when it came to choosing a song as the backdrop for writing about our anniversary, the choice was obvious.

Last year on a January morning as we were getting ready for work, VH-1 did the unimaginable and played not only a video but a video for a good song. We were surprised to see a video for a Springsteen song being aired and we both stopped what were doing to watch it. Something happened as she watched that video and listened to the song. She became a Springsteen fan and "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" became her song.

Last summer for our anniversary I took her to Nashville to see her first Springsteen concert. I had a laundry list of songs I wanted to hear, having seen Bruce only once before, but what I really hoped for was that Bruce would play her song. For 20 songs, we stood and sang and cheered our hearts out. When the band returned for their encore, Bruce made both of our wishes come true. I beamed. I even shouted out an impromptu, "Thank you, Bruce!"

"Girls" isn't the song in Bruce's catalog most likely to become an "our song" but that's okay because we never got around to settling on a conventional song. Besides, we don't think of ourselves as particularly conventional anyway. Even though "Girls" might not be the obvious choice to anyone else, it works for us. If I had to choose just one part of the song highlight, it would be this:

Hello beautiful thing, maybe you could save my life
In just a glance, down here on magic street
Loves a fool's dance
And I ain't got much sense, but I still got my feet

Even if I didn't have a penchant for self-deprecation, I'd still probably see myself as the stumbling fool in this equation. As we finish year nine and begin our tenth, I can't tell you how many times and how many ways I feel like she's saved my life, but it's not because of an English problem, it's a math problem. After all these years, I just can't count that high any more.

About Josh Hathaway

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