Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ivan Skavinsky Skivar

So maybe I am eleven. My brother nine.  I have a vague recollection of where this took place and I had to be nearly eleven at least.

My dad was kidding around with us.  This was a regular joy. He would tell us stories, jokes, read poems and we would giggle. The thing is he often did it from memory--which is what happened in this case.  Appropos of I don't know what--my guess is that we were begging for another story--he started to recite a poem about two characters Abdul Abul-Bul Amir and Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

The names were so outlandish that we were giggling every time he uttered their names.  I remembered the gist of the poem when it somehow made its way into my consciousness a few days ago.  I could not remember the details. So, in this new media 21st century, I went to the internet and after a couple of spelling attempts found the lyrics to the poem (which is listed as a song--maybe Dad sang it to us).

It has nineteen stanzas.  It is almost impossible to believe that he had committed it to memory, but apparently he had.  And this was not a regular poem in his arsenal, just one he plucked from his consciousness because it's likely that we were asking for some sort of encore.

So, the poem is about these two tough guys from different tribes, Abdul Abul-Bul Amir and Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

 "The sons of the prophet were hardy and bold
And quite unaccustomed to fear
But the bravest of these was a man, I am told 
Named Abdul Abul-Bul Amir...

There are heroes a plenty and men known to fame
In the troops that were led by the Czar
But the bravest of these was a man by the name
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

Well, my brother and I are giggling after each verse when one or the others of these guys are mentioned.  What fun.  And until it was over I was convinced that he was making it up as he was going along. Except--even with the due reverence that I had for my Dad--I knew he couldn't make up so many verses with such a tight ending on the spot.

My father's ability to sing songs to us, tell us jokes, play ball with us, make up games to play was something that we were nourished by.  And I attributed much of this joy to his nature and prowess.

And a lot of this credit is due.  When was the last time you memorized 19 versus that had to rhyme with either Ivan Skavinsky Skivar or Abdul Abul-Bul Amir?  And then could spew it out on demand.  Lot of credit due.

But the thing is, now that my mother has passed, I realize how much of his ability to retrieve lines, joke with we kids, play ball was founded on the equanimity he enjoyed because he was loved and gave love.  The credit for being able and willing to sing Ivan Skavinsky Skivar to your kids comes not only from your knowledge, but because you feel and have the love.  Yank that plank from your constitution and you might not have the same urge to play with your kids and regale them with tales of Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

My parents had an unusual relationship. Their union was a good example of how two is more than twice one.  And it is good now and again to consider attributing credit to those who may not be the most obvious person worthy of praise.

"The ladies all loved him, his rivals were few;
He could drink them all under the bar.
As gallant or tank, there was no one to rank
With Ivan Skavinsky Skivar."

Well, maybe give some credit to Ivan's mother.

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