My sort-of annual, weather-permitting attempt at a snowman. This year, for the first time, the kids were heavily involved, hence some of the sub-standard craftsmanship, but what the hey.
This year's big innovation? Legs! Check 'em out!
The kids and I have recently gotten into watching bits from The Muppet Show (thanks, YouTube!). Muppet Labs. Swedish Chef. Pigs in Space. Classic stuff we enjoy mutually. So, when the wife picked up the Season One DVD set from the local library, if you can believe it, the itinerary for this past rainy Sunday was a proverbial no-brainer. The kids predictably enjoyed the hyperbolic silliness and were a little bored by the musical numbers. Not having seen the show in 20-odd years myself, it was not only a nostalgic hoot, but I can now appreciate its lunatic vaudevillian schtick on a much deeper level (if that's not a completely inappropriate way to look at such a topic).
However, one thing touched me with a surprising melancholy. The first episode's guest star was Juliet Prowse, a dancer as famous for her trysts with Elvis and Sinatra as any of her stage or screen credits. A compelling beauty with legendary legs (which I can picture vividly from a pantyhose commercial), Ms. Prowse sits in my mind as the first image of a celebrity I recall having a crush on. Being 11 years old, watching this sex goddess flirt with Kermit the Frog (she gives him a peck and his spindly leg sproings straight out), was a beautiful moment where my childhood and adolescence touched and the crossover was as sweet and painless as it is possible for such a thing to be. The flood of that coming back to me as I sat 30 years on watching the same thing--only now in digitally remastered perfection--with my own children was a pretty potent bit of time tripping. So, as befits the times nowadays, once the kids were abed, I went online to find out what became of Ms. Juliet Prowse.
She died in 1996 of pancreatic cancer, not yet 60.
Now, I have had more than my share of brushes with mortality (if that's not a completely inappropriate way to look at such a topic). Both my parents are gone, my mother barely 60 at the time. My first boss. The guy who replaced me at my first job. No fewer than a dozen coworkers and associates I could rattle off. Umpteen beloved pets. And each one resonated with me in a distinct way. I don't think of myself as morbid, but I am, for a host of reasons, acutely aware of how fleeting life is. Yet learning of the decade-old death of a celebrity I never even saw in the flesh saddens me in a way that feels unique. I'm sure you'll say it's me just mourning my lost youth and feeling the residual effects of my father's recent death--and you'd be quite right--but, by definition, such reasonable explanations do little to assuage the nagging ache of an irrational grief. Not so much for Ms. Prowse, as much as I can sympathize, but simply for the cycle of it. We... all of us... everything... are born to die. No matter what heights we reach, no matter what shadows of immortality we cast in paint, film, or ASCII (my only shot), we will fade, fail, and depart. In the end, the peace we achieve with that unalterable fact is the final measure of our happiness ... but right now, at this moment, I'm pretty damn pissed about it. Yep. Death sucks. That's right. You heard me.
Well, off now to do the only rational thing I can at this point: enjoy what time I have. Y'all do the same now, y'hear?