The Cloudless Evermore

There’s a time from a distant summer past where we’re all out on the lawn– me and my Grade 5 friends– when, suddenly, this thing– this enormous soft thing– comes floating over the brown and red rooftops of the new suburb: an Around the World in 80 Days balloon, a derigible (although I wouldn’t have called it that), cruising with all of its weight on the breeze. It seemed like it was five-storeys tall– it was probably, in truth, not even one quarter that tall– but from our perspective– small naked feet on the moist grass craning our necks to the sky– it felt like a giant toy invasion, even if the toy had ETOBICOKE TOYOTA or REMAX or GET ON THE WINNING TEAM! emblazoned on the side of its sno-cone shaped hood, billowing, as it was, against the cloudless evermore. We might have been playing tag or red rover or british bulldog or who eats his snot or do you think girls fart and if they do do their farts smell good? Or we might have been just hanging out feeling independent, our parents having gathered in the backyard with neighbours for a summer excuse to “get everyone together,” and fill coolers with beer, maybe listen to a ballgame on the radio, BBQ, smoke, eat shrimp and do whatever people did in the 70s to celebrate it no longer being the 40s or 50s. You could hear the grown ups laugh big adult laughs in the back– the laughs got louder the more people drank– and with the balloon sitting on top of us, it became a soft, summer world, and that’s how Don Ho makes me feel whenever I listen to him, which isn’t often, because I just bought this 45, from Recordland in Calgary (the photo on homepage is from the store’s back room). Don Ho used to be on tv a lot– on big, darkbrown Zeniths or Electroluxes– singing and swaying on a stool. He wore a necklace with a huge carved pendant and a shirt with frilly wrists. When the lyric switches into Hawaiian, the song becomes all lazy and smooth and slow, and it seems as if this chrysalis of sound will last forever. But of course it will not. The lyric returns to English, the 70s end, and you move into the city. You buy your own smokes and nobody eats shrimp.

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