Sunday, March 3, 2013


"Children play in the park. They don't know."

Few of my vintage are unfamiliar with the band Chicago and their song, "Make Me Smile."

What makes us smile.  Work?  Sometimes.  Food? Sometimes. Sex? Often.  Good weather?

What makes us smile?

"I'm alone in the dark, even though"

If you stopped and thought about the times you genuinely smiled, you might recall some singular events like going to your first ball game with your parents or hearing your child innocently say some deliciously goofy thing.

"Time and time again, I see your face smiling inside"

I can recall hanging out with some buddies in the dormitories in Albany.  And I can remember laughing uncontrollably (with no inebriant fueling the laughter).  There was one fellow in particular who would crack me up.  I'd visit his suite-which included a number of other wisecrackers-- sometimes only because I knew if I went there I would wind up holding my sides.  And then I'd have this grin on my face for a while.

"I'm so happy that you love me. Life is lovely when you're near me."

When I played tennis competitively on a team, one of the best parts of the night was hanging out with the team afterwards knocking a beer or two back.  These moments were more delightful when I'd been victorious in my matches, and there was a stretch before I got old in a hurry, when I and our team won on a regular basis, so these post game soirees brought out easy smiles.

There are many family moments as well that I can recall vividly as smiling ones.  Usually just hanging out as  a quartet watching television. We smiled watching Barney Fife in the Andy Griffith Show, and laughing with comedians doing their three minute bits on Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights.

But when I think about joy I often think about Chicago and their song--and those moments when my heart was filled up.  As much as I enjoy sport, the fun of sport pales in comparison. It's those moments which you can retrieve from the youtube archives in your head that it would be a shame to forget. We all smile, I believe, when we summon up those moments and croon.

"Tell me you will stay, Make me Smile."

It's romantic and filial love that makes us smile.  There's this old Shelly Berman routine in which he reenacts a phone conversation he had when he was a young man with his father.  Berman is in Chicago and calls his father at the Chicago deli his father owns to ask for money to go to acting school in New York.  The conversation is, to my sense of humor, very funny,  but it is the end that I recall most vividly.  Berman's father tells his young son, that when he goes to New York to remember that "in Chicago, there is somebody. You know what I'm talking? Yeah. you know what I'm talking."

Knowing that there is somebody makes us smile.

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