What Vacation?


“Just take a vacation. Simple. Right? The Hamptons. The Cape. The Ocean. It’s August. Just go!”

That’s what the TV talking head expert bleats out when he’s asked, “What should people do about the roiling stock market?”

And then the host, God bless you Judy Woodruff, tries again. She asks him, “But what about normal everyday people? What should they think about all this? What should they do?”

Again the expert says “Relax. Take a vacation.”

He blathers on another minute or so. And then Judy, seeing that subtle hints will not work with this blow hard, ends it with, “And of course we need to remember how many of our viewers can’t afford to take a vacation.”

August is now the month when the wealth gap sticks out on the national consciousness like a red, raw pus filled sore.

So for those who don’t have a vacation. Those too busy finding work to have a vacation. . . .

I remember this morning walking west on Grace to get the newspaper. It’s early. A summer morning just a bundle of golden promise.

There he is.

It’s him. Walking west with the sun. The Tin Man.

Haven’t seen him in awhile. He’s obviously worked all night, though I have no clue just what the work could be. He is dressed in a faded silver tux. As if the circus just left town and he missed the train.

This is 6:30 in the morning. He is the color of tin. Walking down Grace. Even his skin is the color of tin. The only other color, a green plastic bottle of 7-Up that swings along in his left hand. Everything else is a grey, weary tin.

His eyes a silent story of a hard, hard night.

No vacation for him. But of course he does have a song. Because we all do.

So as I pass his downcast eyes, I hear from either my head or his:

When a man’s an empty kettle he should be on his mettle,

And yet I’m torn apart.

Just because I’m presumin’ that I could be kind-a-human,

If I only had heart.

I’d be tender – I’d be gentle and awful sentimental

Regarding Love and Art.

I’d be friends with the sparrows …

and the boys who shoots the arrows

If I only had a heart.

Picture me – a balcony. Above a voice sings low.

Wherefore art thou, Romeo?

I hear a beat….

How sweet.

Just to register emotion, jealousy – devotion,

And really feel the part.

I could stay young and chipper

and I’d lock it with a zipper,

If I only had a heart.

The great Jack Haley, the Tin Woodsman from the Wizard of Oz. That’s who’s singing.The brilliant songsmith Harold Arlen. That’s who wrote the song.

I wonder if that song could maybe be like The Tin Man’s vacation?

And with that question, Arlen’s song connects to another song. As songs can do.

The story that came before this next song hits first.

She was a secretary banging out tunes in the Brill Building in New York City. He was studying to be a pharmacist. One of their songs, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” was sold. She wrote the music. He wrote the lyrics. And when news of the sale went down, they rented a limo to drive them off to some new life. Soon after that they wrote this next song.

This next song that offers a vacation.

For anyone.

For everyone.

Listen to the part where this next song says,

Right smack dab in the middle of town,

I found a paradise that’s trouble proof.

Listen to The Drifters sing Carole King’s song.

And enjoy your vacation.

One Response to “What Vacation?”

  1. Paulhaider74 Says:

    Roger, this is wonderful. “Up on the Roof” is still one of the favorite songs of summer, and the Tin Man would love this song too with or without a heart. My summer vacation in early July was too brief, but it can be experienced again tonight up on the roof of my 35-story building, which is right smack dab in the middle of town.
    Paul Haider, Chicago

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