It’s Gonna Take Time

Carolyn CD

By Jim Hagarty
Here is another song from When the Day is Over, a CD by my friend and singer-songwriter Caroline Danowski Burchill. It’s Gonna Take Time was the first song Caroline ever wrote over her career as a recording artist and frequent performer. Her CD is available for purchase in the Corner Store.

It’s Gonna Take Time by Caroline Danowski Burchill

The Blameless One

By Jim Hagarty

I know a poor woman who’s sure
Everyone in her life has hurt her.
And she knows where the blame should belong.
Some vile, wretched soul did her wrong.

It is quite a remarkable sight
To watch her engage in a fight
With anyone who wants to know
Why she let everybody down so.

“It wasn’t my fault,” she’ll exclaim.
“My husband’s the one who’s to blame.”
Her son, the neighbour, the cat.
They were the ones who did that.

Some day as she stands before God
To account for her sins, she’ll just nod.
“To be honest, please let me explain.
“I’m afraid I was tricked once again.”

“I would have been good, but you know,
“I’m afraid this might come as a blow.
“You made too many rules from the start
“And neglected to give me a heart.”

“So it’s You, God, that needs to explain
“And You, God, that shoulders the blame.
“If You thought I should behave each day
“Then You shouldn’t have made me this way.”

On Not Going There

By Jim Hagarty

I was listening to two seasoned radio announcers one day a while back when one of the men brought up a topic the other was not comfortable discussing.

“I’m not going there,” the second guy, who has to be close to retirement, said to the first, who chuckled in instant recognition of what his on-air partner was saying. I forget the subject. Maybe it was Monica Lewinsky.

If these shadows of long-gone radio days are now using the language of some hip young U.S. sitcom characters, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Across the country, people by the hundreds of thousands are not going there. Wives are ordering husbands, “Don’t go there!” when they ask them how their trip with the kids to the library went. Kids tell their mother, “Don’t go there, Mom!” when she wants to know why she has found mouldy peanut butter sandwiches in the bottom of their knapsacks. Friends in conversation agree not to go there when a line of discourse, pursued, might take them into an area of their relationship they’d rather not explore.

It seems not unlikely to me that some sinner at the Pearly Gates is, at this very moment, cautionning St. Peter to not go there, when the pre-admission interviewer wanted to inquire about the huge gambling debts the poor soul inflicted on his family before losing his last bet.

When the heck did we all become so reluctant to go there? What a long way we’ve come from the 1960s when we were all enjoined to “let it all hang out.” Now, supposedly, are we not only not willing to let it all hang out, we’re not even prepared to look at the thing we’re not prepared to hang out.

The irony is, though the talk was brave 45 years ago, little of substance was ever truly discussed. Today, though we say we won’t go there, we rarely restrain ourselves from doing so. In fact, we’re there at the drop of a hat. No topic is really “there” not to go to. A couple of years back, on continentwide radio, Melissa Gilbert, one of the girls on the popular TV show Little House on the Prairie, openly discussed her sexual habits, telling listeners where she did it for the first time and revealing the name of the boy who stole her virginity. Certainly no reluctance to go there on her part. If one of Charles Ingalls’ daughters is willing to tell the masses details of her first sexual encounter, it may, in fact, be time for our governments to pass laws ordering people not to go there.

What’s also curious is how quick we are not to go there when ordered not to go there by someone with whom we’re conversing. We roll over, laugh a dirty little laugh and move on, wink, wink, nod, nod. Doesn’t anybody anywhere ever insist on the right to go there any more? “Don’t tell me not to go there. I’m already there and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll go there, too,” should be the response, at least once in a while.

Given the ease with which lines of questioning are deflected by simple commands not to go there, it seems unimaginable that Bill Clinton’s team of lawyers didn’t suggest the president put this potent curiosity-deflector to work. Instead of saying he never had sex with “that” woman, Monica Lewinsky, he should have just told the reporters assembled at that infamous news conference to not go there.

And they probably have wouldn’t have.

Now, that’s one there I wouldn’t have minded being left there.

I’d tell you why, but really, let’s not go there.

There. I said it.

Finding the Path

By Jim Hagarty

I love music. I sing, play guitar and write songs.

But I have never been comfortable being called a musician. Singer-songwriter, I don’t mind.

But a musician, to me, is someone what dedicates his life to making music and I haven’t done that.

I am fine with acknowledging I have musical talent. It’s nice to hear the applause when I play. But sometimes my guitar stays locked up in its case for a whole week without my going near it.

Musicians I have known and loved would have to be in a coma and in grave condition for them to ignore their instrument for a week. I know a guy who plays his guitar for hours every day.

But even he has other interests, other talents. Music is his living, not always his life.

And this is where I left the path. Making music for a living is not an easy road to go down. I tried it for awhile, long enough to know I don’t have what it takes to make it in that field.

But I have other interests. News, politics, writing. Those interests eventually propelled me into journalism, a life and lifestyle I was suited for. I had a good career.

Sometimes our talent can be our enemy. Because we are good at something, we think we need to pursue it. People urge us on, thinking they are helping.

But just as water seeks its own level, the human spirit finds its way. Through Happenstance and Fate, a path opens up.

Still, there is the nagging doubt. Could I have made it in music?

The answer, to me, is clear. I couldn’t have made it.

My heart wasn’t in it.

Doing My Parts For Medical Research

By Jim Hagarty

I’d been pulling my hair out for years and suddenly someone wanted me to put it in an envelope and send it to them.

Along with my toenails.

Found in the mail I was sorting through one day a while back was this request from something called the Canadian Study of Diet, Lifestyle and Health, which, nobly, was trying to discover ways to prevent disease. To do that, they aimed to collect the nails and hair from 85,000 adults, including me, and test them for various properties.

Now, I thought this was a good thing and wanting to participate, I scrolled through the documents that had fallen from a plain brown envelope onto my desk. The instructions were helpful, especially for someone like me who had not been the subject of a lot of medical research.

Particularly useful were the passages describing how I was to obtain the samples needed. “We would be grateful if you would take a clipping from each of your toenails (their emphasis) and place them in the small envelope marked TOENAILS,” read the request. I was relieved, because I was tempted to put them in the envelope marked HAIR. Unfortunately, the letter did not specify whether or not I was to label to which little piggy each nail clipping corresponded, though I supposed medical researchers would have some scientific way of discerning whether it was from the one that ate roast beef or the one that had none.

The section on acquiring my hair samples was a bit more alarming. “We would be grateful if you would pull out about six strands of hair, including the roots, either from the back of your scalp (close to your neck) or from other parts of your body, and place them in the small envelope marked HAIR.” I considered how this might feel and sure enough, reading further, I found my answer: “It is possible that you will experience some minor discomfort when obtaining the hair specimens.” No fool, I am, and I saw “pain” where they wrote “discomfort” and I began to think of a shortcut but they beat me to the pass: “Please DO NOT simply cut off hair strands, since by doing so you will NOT obtain hair roots.” I guessed they’d dealt with my type before.

But most surprising, and yet useful, were the instructions detailing how I was to arrive at various body measurements the researchers wanted. Helpfully, they included a measuring tape with these details: “Measure the torso at a point one inch or two and a half centimetres above the navel (“belly button”) EVEN IF THIS IS NOT YOUR USUAL WAISTLINE.” I read that over a couple of times, thankful for the belly-button clue, but wondering whose waistline, if not mine, that might be.

Then the shocker. They wanted me to measure my buttocks.

“Slide the tape up and down until you find the largest spot between your waist and thighs,” the instructions stated. “When sliding the tape to the correct spot, be sure that it is kept horizontal.” Now I was in trouble as I began to question what the “it” that I was supposed to keep horizontal might be.

As I might have guessed, the researchers wanted me to be “either unclothed or in minimal clothing” while doing this and they had another request: “We ask that you make the measurements with the help of another adult.” They didn’t, however, suggest any dangers in having two adults, one naked, with horizontal things about, taking measurements.

I was also instructed to choose among sketches that showed people covered in various numbers of moles and freckles and indicate which most resembled me.

Although the researchers guaranteed the information about me would be kept confidential, they also said the results would be made available to the media and I imagined the press conference: “Most respondents were normal,” a white-coated scientist would say, “but there was this one guy with a really wrinkly butt with freckles all over it. And toenails thick as slate.” Friends would start guessing.

And then, the letter said I would be contacted in four years and in eight years to repeat these procedures, time needed, I supposed, to let my head heal.

To top it off, I was asked to sign a consent form giving the researchers permission to obtain information on my “vital status” from “the National Morality Database”, which is maintained by Statistics Canada. Either their typesetter’s “t” key was busted or, not content with measuring my behind, they wanted to size up my morals.

Having none, I didn’t object to this and I reached straight away for a pen to sign up, proof of my long-held contention that I’ll sign anything.