Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rifles, mommies, clothing & Sarah sings Procol

As is plain to anyone with eyes to see, White Bear has taken over all duties and responsibilities concerning firearms. A few years ago, I began buying some older rifles and outfitting them with period scopes (telescopic sights, for the uninitiated). I bought this rifle on my return from Poland in the Spring. It is sixty years old, and still beautiful. The action is a classic, a Mauser (German) design first introduced in the 19th Century, with this particular one manufactured by Fabrique Nationale, a Belgium gunmaker also renowned for well over a century. The caliber, .30-06, first saw extensive use among American troops during World War I. It continues to be one of the most favored of cartridges among big game hunters around the world. The scope is yet a juvenile, only thirty-five or, maybe, forty years old, and one I have had for a couple of years, waiting patiently for a rifle to claim as its own. Now, all this is White Bear's rig. You might notice that the little rascal has more-or-less taken over possession of my Colt Series 70 Gold Cup .45 ACP, too. (That is the pistol on the table in front of him, for the uninitiated.)

To wear or not to wear, that is the question

A few days ago, Peggy asked me if I enjoyed shopping for automobiles. I replied that I did not. That I did not like shopping. That, in particular, I did not like shopping for clothing.

The question was a jolt into the past for me. My mother loved to shop. In addition to shopping in our small hometown and a few regional shopping centers, she would figure out a way to make periodic trips to Minneapolis/St. Paul -- one hundred, fifty miles distant.

Naturally, being her bouncing baby boy and only child, I was "dragged" (yes, sometimes literally) along on every single excursion she made. Sometime around the age of four, I concluded that I did not like these trips. They robbed me of endless hours of playing games with my friends. By the time I was eight or nine, I was ready for open rebellion and to run away from home if I were to be required to go on another shopping expedition.

Now, I should clarify, that she did most of the shopping for herself. Consequently, I was forced to slouch (a boy's style of sitting) for hours in women's dress shops and department stores, watching fat women, skinny women, homely women, beautiful women, short women, tall women ooohhhing and aaahhhing over dresses and purses and jewelry and shoes and, and, and .... usually, I was the only "man" in the shop.

But, even worse was the fact that mommie dearest loved to shop for clothes for me, and would also force me to try on shirt after shirt, shoe after shoe, trousers after trousers, sometimes even hats (!! my god, the humiliation of wearing anything on my head other than a baseball cap) and, of course, long coats and short coats and heavy coats and light coats.

All right. Enough. To the point. Two things were the end result of my childhood under the complete control of my ruthless mother. By the time I was sixteen or seventeen, I discovered my wardrobe had a strange affect on girls. They loved it. Oh, yeh. Here come Pete and Dave and Paul in their jeans and sweatshirts and tennis shoes. Here comes Fram (I almost wrote my real name there) in his dress slacks and cashmere sweater and loafers. These mere pieces of clothing had a magical effect on girls. They loved it. (I guess I already said that. Whatever.) Well, I shall say no more in that regard.

Next, and judge this cause and effect for yourself, for I shall not. This childhood pattern has made me an absolute cripple in regard to clothing. Other than jeans and t-shirts, an occasional jacket, boots and a shirt here and trousers there, I need a woman to tell me what looks good on me and what to buy. Honestly. I must confess. I am a clothing cripple.

“Do I look ok in this?”

“Does this fit me all right?”

“Which of these should I buy?”

I suppose I do this to some degree because I know it pleases the woman I am with to have me demonstrate that I value her judgment, but I also do it because I have no clue what clothing works for me and what does not.

It has evolved into part of the "job description." The companion of Fram must enjoy shopping, and must pick out his clothes for him.

Ah, yes …. the music ....

"A Whiter Shade of Pale," written and originally performed by a 1960s British band called Procol Harum, would fall into my top twenty-five (or thereabouts) list of music no matter what the category. It easily is the band's finest and greatest piece of music. Life was all downhill after it for these boys. I am being factious, but that really is the truth of the matter. In historical terms, this song has "anthem status" in context of the rock era of music. This band never had another song even close to it. Few bands have.

For those who disapprove of rock music, the writers openly acknowledge the influence and inspiration of none other than J.S. Bach, in particular his "Sleepers, Wake!" and "Air on a G String." If you listen to the organ, you will clearly hear the voice of Bach transcending death to reappear two centuries after his earthly existence ended. Listen, and you will hear him. This is Bach alive again. No mistake.

One thing, I think, is certain. This song is emblematic of what Western music was in the last one-third of the 20th Century.

I have posted the Procol Harum version here, maybe twice, in the past. Tonight, I chose the rendition by Sarah Brightman, who easily would fall into my top twenty-five list of women singers. Some say she has the voice of an angel. Since I never have heard the voice of an angel, all I dare to say is that only one other woman's voice rips me into pieces as easily as does the voice of Sarah. And, when Sarah's voice is mingled with this song, I am utterly and completely helpless.

Wanna dance ??


Maddalena said...

Oh, Frammy, what a big guy now White Bear is! I am very content to see him like that. He doesn't need his mom anymore, great!

As to the cloth shopping, it was a really sweet story. I wish I could be a Mom, like your Mother was, in this regard, to my kids. Girls would like it for sure, and a boy could learn a bit about fashion, too, it wouldn't hurt him at all, from my (mom's) point of view :-)

Fram Actual said...

I am certain that my memory of these shopping trips include more of the elements which made me unhappy than those which pleased me, Mag, and the boundaries grew as I entered school and moved up a grade or two. Even before I was eight or nine, we would do my clothing shopping first, and then I would be cut loose to run free for two or three hours until it was time meet her for a meal or to head for home. I think most mothers who have only one child have a tendency to keep the leash short.

I am certain you will make a fine mother when you decide the time is right, and have many happy shopping trips with your children.

Yes, White Bear is becoming quite an independent young man. There is no need to worry about him.

Kaya said...

Fram, your guns are very interesting. And perhaps, are unique. I reread about them twice and not sure I still have knowledge about them. I like the pistol and definitely would like to have one similar to your pistol even not knowing how to shoot. Just in case....

White Teddy Bear is for sure your boy, your friend and companion, he is so relaxed among your guns.

I read about shopping and liked your story very much. I didn't get why you called your mother ruthless....

About style. I love style and elegance. When I immigrated to US it took for me almost 5 years to use to casual American style. I am ok with it right now but not completely. Once flying to Paris a few years ago I had a conversation with a French girl. She looked sarcastically at my sneakers (worn only for a flight to Paris and comfort) and said that I live by habit. When I asked her what does it mean she simply explain that wearing casual clothes and shoes all the time is to live by habit. This is French attitude toward style and elegance. Or just one person attitude.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading this post a lot.

Kaya said...

It seems that lately I am always in a hurry. I forgot to tell you that I like this video a lot and I am going to still it again.

Fram Actual said...

I am certain there is a literary definition to describe my purpose when I used the word "ruthless" in regard to my mother, but I cannot recall it. What I was doing was applying a deliberate exaggeration in an attempt for a touch of humor. I guess I "failed" in my attempt.

Neither of the guns on the table is particularly valuable, Kaya, but as years pass and they become ever more rare, the intrinsic value rises and they become more treasured by their owners. This rifle was only made by Fabrique Nationale in 1950, for instance, and the pistol for a few years in the 1970s. They both are increasingly desirable among men like me.

Yes, everyone should have a handgun or two, in my opinion, know how to use them and be mentally prepared to use them if necessary. I am not certain off the top of my head what Utah laws are concerning handguns, but all you would have to do is find a gun shop, walk in and inquire.

Yes, White Bear is a fine companion.

Although in a general sense I might not seem to be such a person myself, I agree with you about style and elegance. In Poland, for instance, the average people on the street were both more interesting and more attractive to look at than are typical Americans because of a somewhat more stylish manner of dressing over there.

To be blunt about it, I think too many Americans dress like pig farmers on their way to do their chores. I do not mean dirty, but simply sloppy, messy, with no appreciation of or concern about the image they project.

In America, I also think wearing what is in style has replaced wearing stylish clothing. A vivid example of that is when someone chooses to wear trousers, slacks, jeans, (whatever) so large that underwear and more is the view they leave behind. Just as a person is what he eats, so, too, is he what he wears. Most of the habits my mother gave me were good ones.

I am glad you liked the words and the music today.

Something special ....