So I’m in Pasadena right now, sort of over-planning a 40th year high school reunion, and I got to wondering about the human need to party. I’m in the celebration business, more or less all the time. We call it “Riley’s Farm,” but it’s a bit more like Bing Crosby’s “Holiday Inn” — one seasonal party after the next. I reduce the planning time for the guests by putting the food on the table and paying the fiddler and finding a pretty girl to scold the Young Scrooge for being so addicted to his work, but if you’re planning the party or not, we spend a lot of our time, as human beings, hatching some excuse to talk to a friend and order one of those purple-orange drinks with an umbrella in it. The get together, on the veranda, overlooking the beach, will only last a few hours, but we spend months stitching together the mechanics and dreaming about the moment. Ponder a wedding; I know women who plan their children’s wedding over fifteen month long stretches, and they get this pained knot right above their eyebrows contemplating details, and then the wedding comes along, and it’s beautiful, and the music is grand and the bride is gorgeous and the wine is perfection, and you get weepy dancing to Kenny Loggins and IT’S ALL OVER IN THREE HOURS.
Why do we do that? I’m not questioning the need for occasions; I’m just wondering if it’s filed under that mysterious question one of my high school teachers used to ask me: “Jim Riley, do you enjoy the becoming or the being?”
I didn’t know then. I don’t think I do now.
Another thing. On the way in today, I played Jim Riley’s definitive Spotify mix. It includes 463 numbers. My standard for including the tune in the mix had to be that somewhere, over the course of my life, I could remember hearing the little signature tambourine, bass, piano montage intro and then thinking to myself “I love this one.” It’s a strange mix. It includes “Rhythm of the Rain” (Cascades), “Down Under” (Men at Work) “Hey Girl” (Louis Prima), “The Theme from the Rifleman” (Warner Brothers?), “Red, Red Wine” (UB40), “Volare” (Dean Martin), “Save Your Heart for Me” (Gary Lewis & the Playboys), and TONS of the Ventures.
A few of the songs are weepy, sticky-sweet, teenage love songs. I’m 57 years old, damn it, and they still make me cry.
Why is that?
I do think there is some truth to the notion that God takes the old, wise souls back home first, so I’m trying to stay as immature as I can for as long as I can.