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Max Roytenberg

Max roytenberg: The Song In the Wine

Max Roytenberg, February, 2015, Phoenix, Arizona, posted March 15, 2015




Life has such magic and mystery,  my mind reels. I keep straining my neck to see over the current bump in the road just to see what the future will bring. Don’t we all want to know? But the biggest unknown is the condition of the horse we are riding. It is so easy to forget that life is also so much about chemistry, physics, DNA and higher mathematics. We have so many parts that have to work right so our apparatus operates properly. It is a constant miracle that most of us walk around without a care in the world. There is nothing that we make with human hands yet that works as well as the bodies we inhabit. That's because we have so many built in redundancies. What the heck does that mean? Well, often, we have two of everything instead of one, two or three, or many, genes, instead of one, to get the instructions right, etc., etc., etc.. So what has that to do with the price of rice in China?


Well, I am pinching myself in amazement that I’m still around, with pretty well everything still working. And on top of that, think about all the close calls we’ve  had in our lives. Some we know about and some we don't. You drive a car, don't you, and fly in airplanes, and climb up ladders? You remember some of those close calls, don’t you? And the times you got sick, sometimes, really sick, and got better? And all the better medicines and health care? There are plenty of people we know who didn't make it. We sure can't take all that for granted.


So, aren't we the lucky fish?


I have been retired for almost twenty years. We never imagined when we were growing up that we would be tripping the life fantastic for so many years after we stopped earning a living wage. For all these years since I left paid employment, I have been living by my wits, succeeding in living the good life without the benefit of a salary. I have been able to keep my income above my outcome for most of these years, paying taxes, sharing with progeny and husbanding enough to keep the wolf from the door. And there still remains a widow's might that I cultivate for fruit that will yield the food on our table and the roof over our head, now and in the future. Somehow or other, I seem to work things out.


So guess what? I’m all relaxed about my situation-our situation-I have a Bride to keep happy, too. Will we outlive our assets? At our age, I don't think so! Barring an illness catastrophe-for which we are insured-we seem to be in good shape.


So, guess what? I have taken to drink. The wise men tell us that a glass of wine is good for us. The wise men also tell us that a shot of whiskey a day is good for us. During my working life I had no time for such stuff. Focus, focus, keep on your toes to meet all the challenges you face in the dog-eat-dog world! Can't afford to let drink and drugs blunt our edge! Produce, produce, bend every effort to getting the job done and meeting the challenges of day-to-day family life. But not now! The kids are on their own,  foraging for themselves. I don't golf. I am leaving Bridge to my Bride to learn. I amuse myself with poetry and fairy tales, and in doing those things a drink can be an advantage. I don't smoke, and haven't for thirty years, so Pot is out. It is to the song in the wine that I turn for inspiration. Away with cares and woes!


Don't get me wrong! I'm no Brendan Behan, a poet totally in my cups. I need a clear mind to put my thoughts together. And I never drink and drive. That could ruin a good thing. But I recognize there is a role for the fruit of the wine, and of the barley mash, or whatever, to shake loose the rigid edge of reality. I know I can make a spectacle of myself, and I tend to break into song on the least provocation. I can do this without the benefit of any foreign substance, and I do, but for my onlookers, I can blame it on the drink. I have shed my inhibitions and I am blaming it on that old demon rum.


When push comes to shove, now that I am so carefree, happily ensconced in a loving relationship with the woman of my dreams, I do tend to break into song more often. And I do so more when I’ve had a drink. I know that I have a beautiful voice; I can hear it resonate inside my head. I know I am in great demand, although it hasn't led to any paid gigs yet. And if by some chance I sing off-tune, it must be the song in the wine that has gone off the track.


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