After the Fact: Making sense of it all


Of the entire movie, “Pink Panther,” the scene I remember best was Robert Wagner wearing a sodden and ever-stretching sweater, sneaking out of a hotel room after hiding in a shower. It was a grand movie with unforgettable music, but I’ve forgotten other lead stars and the “story.” My kids watched a cartoon “take-off” with a pink panther who was as inept as I vaguely remember the inspector in the original.

Henry Mancini wrote the music, and it takes only the first half-dozen or so notes to bring the image back to mind. To me, the sign of a successful composer is that you remember their music long after you remember that they wrote it. I remember Mancini because he wrote so many of my favorite tunes, like “Moon River” from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

I couldn’t recall who wrote the music (not the lyrics) to most of the “James Bond” movies, including the “theme” for “Goldfinger”. I had to look that one up: it was John Barry. It wasn’t the only film for which he wrote music I didn’t recognize, but “Goldfinger” is an easy “re-take.” I heard it used as background music in a Netflix movie I’d been watching, “The Crown,” and knew it immediately.

Other than “It’s Howdy Doody Time”, there are not many television series themes that stayed with me. Bonanza and M.A.S.H. come to mind but our household was late in acquiring a TV, and viewing time was limited. That set the habit of a lifetime. I still find it more a distraction than a source of entertainment. Excepting the news: now, that’s entertaining. They should have identifiable theme music.

One or another of the classes I took in the education department of ASU pushed the idea that we are visual, auditory or tactile learners. It always seemed to me that all three held my attention, if not equally, then in close approximation. And in what category do you file those smells that bring back memories? Nose-ory? Strange as it may seem, one of my favorites is the smell of wet sawdust. That’s a story from childhood. And cooking vanilla (my very expensive Shalimar perfume smells a lot like that). They say that baking bread while a realtor is showing your house is a sure-fire way to close the deal, though I’m not sure anyone younger than 50 has ever smelled bread baking unless it was in a bakery.

Akin to “nose-ory”, how about taste? It’s not the same, even at Baskin-Robbins, but I love home-made peppermint ice cream. We used to take turns at the handle of the ice cream “churn” at the Lloyds’ house in Hooper on a Sunday after dinner. It was the highlight of the meal. Come to think of it, wet sawdust would have been a highlight to some of those meals. But I think I’ve mentioned my mother-in-law more than once in our “conversations.”

Tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich means you are sick enough to stay home from school but not so sick that you should do without a hot lunch. Enchiladas with a fried egg on top said, “Dad isn’t going to like this (whatever “this” was at the time) but he won’t be too mad after dinner.” It was one of the meals you could count on not being burned to a crisp, or even crispy around the edges. Every cook has a specialty: I haven’t found mine yet, but, then, I gave up looking for it once my kids were grown. The great-grandkids all think “fine dining” at Grandma Patt’s means we’re going to Pizza Hut for the “all you can eat” buffet.

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