Art Linkletter

Charlie Cockey

[December 2001. Originally appeared in La Folia 3:5.]

It’s time for a bit of reminiscing. The onset of truly chilly winter weather (it was 2°C last night here in Gotha, where I’m visiting friends) and a letter from a friend relating to spectator sports prompts the following recollection of a good old time. Hope you enjoy. Charlie.

Many years ago I spent a wonderful winter living in Sun Valley Idaho, playing music in the Leadville Espresso House, the coolest bar since McSorley’s, and very coitucational as opposed to the anti-dame McSurley: living with Barry and the Jaywalkers, a tight R&B bar band that eventually came to San Francisco, broke up, and in part re-coalesced into my old band Melvyn Q Watchpocket, skiing my nonexistent ass off, and engaging in all sorts of illicit activities, both nocturnal and otherwise.

Crystal clear weather all winter, that wonderful mountain cold air, magnificent snow, great skiing, plus the opportunity one evening to slip on the ice and fall flat on my face in front of Art Linkletter, robbing me my one chance to loose upon him a withering Wildean maleficum, but giving him instead the chance to look terribly askance, shake his head in disapproval, and wander into the lodge undoubtedly thinking right wing thoughts about inappropriately longhaired drugged out (he thought) God knows whats let loose in such a proper resort.

There was in that winter a small group of us who somehow managed to face the light of day Sundays, get together with whatever whatevers we could muster, meet at someone’s place (Bad Bev’s was a favorite, with its front door placard filched from the Magus that became our winter’s motto: “Decent People Lead Ordinary Lives While This Bestial Orgy Takes Place”) and settle down in a mass in front of the tube, add mentionables and unmentionables to our body chemistry, and watch and comment on football.

Came the Super Bowl. Well, perhaps it was the playoffs, but if it was it was the last of them. Perhaps I can’t remember which game, but I remember which house: the newly completed dream home of an architect from somewhere, all open spaces, beams shooting upwards at extreme angles, high ceilings, giant windows looking out into aspens and pines and the Big Wood River coursing by not ten yards away.

Third Quarter. Very close game. Tension. Excitement. Action on the screen. Movement. A great play. But wait! A whistle! A foul? Nobody knows! The commentator: “Wait a second, there’s a flag at the line of scrimmage!” We hold our breath! Will it go against the favorite? Will the play be called back? Was it all in vain? Desperate silence! Riveted attention! And then, out of the silence, the voice of Full Tilt Tisa, a wonderfully handsome, enthusiastic, galumphing woman. Third quarter, end of the year, we’ve been glued to the game almost every Sunday, the world is hanging in the balance. And she says… “What’s the line of scrimmage?”

Sometimes you just have to sit and wonder.