Al Batt: Feel free to sing along even if you’re not in the shower

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2022

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Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

 “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime you’ll find. You get what you need.”

Those words were written by the noted philosophers Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

Al Batt

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One year, I wanted a Rolling Stones record album. I liked the Stones. Still do. I believed in the triumph of hope over experience, but no one must have heard my constant whining, because I didn’t get a Rolling Stones album for my birthday or Christmas. I don’t remember what I received instead. I’m sure it was wonderful, but we’re not meant to remember everything. Where would we put all those memories?

Francoise Sagan wrote, “Money may not buy happiness, but I’d rather cry in a Jaguar than on a bus.”

I almost rode in a Jaguar once. A retired Army colonel who lived in the same Minneapolis apartment complex as I did invited me to go for a ride. I got into his Jag with great anticipation and found great disappointment. The Jag wouldn’t start. The Colonel worked on his car in the parking lot for weeks. I helped by staring at the engine and nodding solemnly. The car didn’t get better and he sold it to a glutton for punishment. 

I sat at a table with friends at a church potluck recently. There was no haggis, kimchee, squid, livermush, fried pig ears, pickle pie or lutefisk available, so no alerts were issued. Writing on a wall read, “The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table.” 

We leaned in and talked of many things: Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax — Of cabbages — and kings — And why the sea is boiling hot — And whether pigs have wings. Not really. We wouldn’t have talked of those things unless we were eating with Lewis Carroll. 

“Do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?” I said because I’m a doofus. It’s a  nonsensical thing to say when there is a lull in the conversation.

A friend grumbled about forgetting names. He has a rule. If he hadn’t seen someone in over four days, he didn’t even try to remember a name. 

Joni Mitchell sang, “And the seasons they go round and round. And the painted ponies go up and down. We’re captive on the carousel of time. We can’t return we can only look behind from where we came.” We looked behind from where we came. We connected dots and talked about food while eating a scrumptious meal. There was honey on the table. It brought memories. 

I ate Karo on a stack of pancakes when I was a boy. My misty memory tells me it was Karo Dark Corn Syrup, with its molasses and caramel-like taste, which I favored over Karo Light, which contained vanilla extract. Sometimes, we enjoyed Log Cabin syrup and rarely, maple syrup. A local beekeeper placed his hives around our hayfields and gave us honey as rent. I enjoy honey. Honey, sugar and butter on white bread was a healthy sandwich option during my wonder years. I’ve never tried honey on mashed potatoes, but it’s divine on pancakes. As good as honey is, I wanted maple syrup for my pancakes, stirred into oatmeal or drizzled over vanilla ice cream. I grew up in a family fond of saying, “We’ll make do or do without.” After I made what I thought was a reasonable request for maple syrup, I heard, “We’ll see.” That meant “no maple syrup,” but kept hope alive.

Another table friend, one of nine kids, said he got sugar water on his flapjacks. It had two ingredients — sugar and water.

I still eat pancakes. I don’t always get maple syrup on them. I bought a Rolling Stones LP, but I never listen to it.

Glinda, the Good Witch of the North in “The Wizard of Oz,” told Dorothy, “You have always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

All along, Dorothy’s slippers (silver in the book and ruby in the movie) had the magical power to fulfill her wish to go home.

I wanted the Rolling Stones and maple syrup.

I got what I needed — a potluck supper, good friends and the magical memories of pancakes past.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.