…Just remember I laughed twice as hard as I cried

Since it keeps on showing up on Facebook I may as well address it. I’m on the eve of my 54th birthday. Now there are some who consider 54 to be positively antediluvian, while many others I know, view it as an age when the bloom has yet to even meet the rose.  Me, I’d say that 54 is just about right…be foolish not to…and at least I can have a little fun with that fact.

So let me ask those who have lived through at least four or five decades, if you could be 20 again, would you do it?

This picture was taken on the John Weeks Footbridge, (connecting Cambridge with the Allston section of Boston) around about this time of year in 1978 and it’s diverting to consider, as any actuary will agree, that the odds are downright bankable that there will be a far greater age difference between this 54 year old and that 20 year old, than there will be between this 54 year old and the fellow who hears the sound of that final horn.

Time is fleet and for the most part life has been grand, but there is no…way…in…Hell that I’d want to go back, even to that remarkably delightful moment on the bridge and the halcyon times that surrounded it. Would you?

Admittedly, from a physical standpoint it would be nice not having to contend with some of the grievances Father Time and Mother Nature have thrown my way, and I’m not about to include a current picture as a means of comparison (ouch!) but when you consider all that life has brought to most of us since the age of 20, or 30, or even 40, I’ll take today…any day.

Right, and where do we go from here?  Just recently we saw one of our favorites in concert, Loudon Wainwright III, and he didn’t disappoint, especially when he sang today’s selection.  High, Wide and Handsome: in a literal sense, well, at least I can claim to be wide, but when taken figuratively (as in jovial, carefree and…jaunty) it’s truly something to aspire to.

A genuine All-American phrase that conjures images of openness and freedom (and maybe a cowboy or two), High, Wide and Handsome has been in use since at least the 1880s; eventually even making the leap across the pond in the 1930s, when it was used in a British newspaper advert for an ocean liner, described as: “A trim ship built high, wide and handsome, a ship with ‘decks appeal’.”

By decade’s end P.G. Wodehouse had placed his own spin on the phrase in “Uncle Fred in Springtime”.  Although… “He has a nasty way of lugging Pongo out into the open and proceeding to step high, wide and plentiful.” …certainly lacks the punch of today’s song, which was included on Wainwright’s 20th studio (and first Grammy winning) album, “High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project”

Released in 2009 as a tribute to singer and musician Charlie Poole (1892–1931), the album features original songs (such as this one) as well as numerous versions of songs made popular by Poole, a “rambling, hard-drinking, crazy Southern showman,” much like Wainwright himself (raised in New York but born in Chapel Hill).

Admittedly, the notion of promiscuity and abject carousing belongs back on a bridge somewhere, at least for this particular 54 year old, but there’s still something rather wonderful in the realization that it “isn’t that long a stay” …and we may as well tackle what’s left in a high, wide and handsome way.


High Wide and Handsome

 High, wide and handsome

That’s how I like living

High, wide and handsome

That’s how life should be

Low skinny and ugly that’s for other people

High, wide and handsome suits me to a tee

 Song, wine and women – they’re my three favorites

Beer, gin and whisky – that’s 5, 6 and 4

Saturday night I like eating and dancing

Then I sleep all day Sunday

So’s I’m ready for more

 High, wide and handsome

You can’t take it with you

High, wide and handsome

That’s one way to go

Let’s live it up – might as well, we’re all dying

High, wide and handsome

Let’s put on a show

 Can’t quit what will kill me

So why even bother?

I love this hard living

So why even try?

I’ll be high, wide and handsome when I kick the bucket

I’ll be high, wide and handsome on the day I die

High, wide and handsome

You can call it my motto

High, wide and handsome

Call it my creed

Money’s just paper

Liquor’s thicker than water

High, wide and handsome

In thought word and deed

 Have “high, wide and handsome” carved on my headstone

With the date I was born plus the date that I died

Take one from the other

All that’s left is a number

Just remember I laughed twice as hard as I cried

 High, wide and handsome

That’s how I like living

High, wide and handsome

That’s how life should be

Low, skinny and ugly that’s for other people

High, wide and handsome suits me to a tee

1 thought on “…Just remember I laughed twice as hard as I cried

  1. I have 11 years on you but understand completely having no desire to time-travel back to my 20’s — as fine a time in my life as that was. Even as the once deniable but now clearly inevitable term draws closer, my love for all the times in my life has never led me to pine for a decade’s or even a year’s repeat. As they say in my business, “This is the day the Lord has made” and I’m pleased to rejoice in it today.

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