I’m trying… I swear I’m trying. But I gotta tell you, I am so sick of starting conversations with “In these difficult times…” that I could scream. You …
I’m trying… I swear I’m trying. But I gotta tell you, I am so sick of starting conversations with “In these difficult times…” that I could scream. You know—a low/basso-profundo/Paul Bunyan manly kind of scream, but a scream nonetheless. I’m writing, of course, about COVID-19 and the not-so-new Delta variant which is currently rearing its ugly head—casting a shadow of doubt and fear over the Upper Delaware River region, the Catskills, and right here at home—aka Camp Fox.
Contrary to the whole Paul Bunyan thing, I’m still a bit of a “Nervous Nellie” when it comes to attending events as if nothing has happened, because, well… something has. In the last week alone, I’ve seen the number of new cases (www.sullivanny.us) surge, and as of 8/9/21 there were 107 “active cases” (and 194 people in quarantine) reported in Sullivan County, both numbers considerably higher than just a few days earlier.
That said, I had plans to check out one or two of our local outdoor farmers markets over the weekend to celebrate National Farmers Market Week (www.famersmarketcoalition.org) so I cranked up the old Victrola (look it up!) and decided to heed the advice of equally old Dick Van Dyke, which he musically doled out in droves during the ‘60’s: “Gray skies are gonna clear up,” he warbled in between the pops and crackles that only putting a needle to worn-out vinyl can produce. “Put on a happy face. Brush off the clouds and cheer up,” Dick continued with his sunny disposition, “put on a happy face. Take off the gloomy mask of tragedy; it’s not your style. You’ll look so good that you’ll be glad ya decided to smile!”
I had serious doubts about that last bit of advice, but tossed the dog in a stroller (don’t judge!) and headed for Barryville, NY, the aforementioned farmers market, and a “Treasure and Trinkets” sale right up the road in Eldred designed to benefit the Sunshine Hall Library. I was shocked to see so many people out for the day in Barryville (the market was mobbed) and I purchased a trinket or two (“one man’s trash…”) in Eldred, but… had difficulty spreading “sunshine all over the place” per Dick’s instructions, so headed for home, feeling that I had failed to “wipe off that full-of-doubt look” and “slap on a happy grin.”
Knowing that I had the triumphant return of the always-popular Bagel Festival in Monticello on my schedule for the next day, I turned to happy-go-lucky Van Dyke once more. “And if you’re feeling cross and bitterish,” he sang, like he was in the room with me, “don’t sit and whine. Think of a banana split and licorice, and you’ll feel fine.”
“‘Cross & Bitterish’ sounds more like a law firm to me, and that whole banana split and licorice stuff is just plain nonsense,” I grumbled and mumbled to the dog, who steered her stroller toward the fine folks holding down the fort in the SPCA booth during the bagel festival.
I stopped repeatedly at other booths throughout the day, schmoozed with folks (“From a distance,” per the musical advice of chanteuse Bette Midler) and pretended to smile. “Maybe Dick is right,” I whispered to the Wonder Dog, “If I ‘pick out a pleasant outlook’ and ‘stick out that noble chin,’ I’ll eventually feel fine as he suggests.” Might take a little more than a banana split and licorice (whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean), though. In my humble opinion.
Fun Fact: “Put on a Happy Face” is one of many songs written by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams for the Tony award-winning musical “Bye Bye Birdie,” produced for the Broadway stage in 1960. Based on a book written by Michael Stewart and originally titled “Let’s Go Steady,” the play was influenced by Elvis Presley’s conscription into the army in 1958.
And this: “Nervous Nellie” describes a person who is always nervous or tends to be worried and anxious. According to www.idiomsonline the name Nellie “almost certainly does not refer to a particular person. Like other proper-name idioms of this type, the name was probably chosen for the alliteration.”