I guess I should mention in case things go haywire in the next nine or ten days that I won’t be here — haven’t been for almost a day now, actually, I think. It’s all ghost posts for the next week and some odd days.
I’m taking my hips on a gold road trip to the Old Home. It will bring good and bad. I will be stopping at several points along the way there and back for some painful purposes, and at other times for what I hope will be crazy-joyful occasions of reunion.
The only way out is through.
This quote puts me in mind of a memory that is tied closely to the trip I am about to make. A long time ago, when I used to live where I am going, my aunt — the one who is a nun, not to be confused with my bereaved aunt who is reading Kubler-Ross and about whom I talk all the time, nor my chic deaf aunt who lives on a cliff — used to sing to me this song called “Goin’ on a tiger hunt,” some variant of which you have doubtless been taught in church youth group or some scout camporee or perhaps by a cartoon. Animaniacs was surprisingly educational at times.
If this picture of a little girl making a wish on her birthday candles some fifty years ago does not make you accuse the room of being dusty you have no soul. I hope every one of her dreams came true and she has lived a long and happy life.
The main thing of the song — which sitting on the steps of my grandparents’ house by the highway singing with my aunt is one of my happiest memories — was this syncopated repetitive chorus whenever the hunter would encounter an obstacle. You would chant back and forth while clapping rhythmically, “Goin’ on a tiger hunt. * But I’m not afraid. * Cause I’ve got a gun. * And bullets at my side. — What’s that up ahead?” and Aunt B would respond, “A tree! / Tall grass! / A fence! / Mud!” Then you must say,
Can’t go over it * (can’t go over it)
Can’t go under it * (can’t go under it)
Can’t go around it * (can’t go around it)
Gotta go through it.
And then you would delight in making squelching noises for mud, slidey hand sounds for grass, creaking like a gate, etc. *
You went with delcious slowness through the first part of the song, forgetting really in the process that your whole job in this call-and-response game of foley artistry is to hunt a tiger and catch him with bullets all while not feeling fear, and then suddenly when you asked “What’s that up ahead,” Aunt B would shout, “THE TIGER!” and your heart would pound and you’d hastily run backward through all of your previous sound effects trying to go as fast as possible while keeping in the proper order and lastly mimic the final sound of the slam of the gate behind you. Then you would say, “But I’m not afraid.”
In Girl Scouts we played it as “Going on a Squeegee Hunt” and we just skipped the guns and bullets part. I’m not sure what a-changing times lead to the substitution of the made-up “squeegee” monster for the visceral image of the tiger — whether it was less scary than the tiger or whether it was less encouraging of poaching a potentially endangered species — but in any case I feel like with the whitewashing the song lost its sizzle.
I am going on a tiger hunt, and I am afraid, and I do not have a gun, nor bullets at my side. But I cannot go over, under, or around what comes next — I will go through what painful obstacle stands in my way because that is simply the only choice I have. Which, as that is the case, it can only be meant to be and I therefore have double reason to persevere.
I must maintain this mindset. Wish me luck.
*For the tree, I believe we said, “Gotta climb it,” the only deviation in the song’s demandingly strict meter — why not just omit the tree in favor of a thing which might be gone through? It is scarcely true that you cannot go around a tree, and climbing it is the same as going over it. Really the only thing in the words of the chorus that you can not do when faced with the tree in this song — besides obviously the impossibility of going through it as is evidenced by the replacement of “go through it” with “climb it” — is tunnel under it, but even that is only for lack of time or machinery. You technically could go under it as well as around and over it. “Through it” is wholly out, and thus it destroys the fundamental message of the repetition of the chorus. A puzzling lyric.
Has anyone ever been taught to chop it down? Get back to me if you have. Now I’m ten kinds of curious.