Saturday, June 2, 2012

Scratch me a lover, pass me a drink


Be My Robert Benchley

 (Dedicated to Dorothy Parker and the members of the Algonquin Round Table. . . with a nod to the Barenaked Ladies' Be My Yoko Ono)



If there’s someone you can drink without,
Then do so.
And if there’s someone you can waste your time with,
Do so.
You can be my Robert Benchley
You can follow me wherever I go
Be my, be my,
Be my Robert Benchley




Well there was this little lady in old New York
Her quips couldn’t get much darker
She soon became the toast of the Algonquin
Miss Dorothy Parker
If you were smart, or thought you were
If you dared to do it and were able
You got yourself to that hotel, and sat down at
That big Round Table
 
(Be my, be my, be my Robert Benchley
Be my, be my, be my Robert Benchley)



There was this fat guy sitting there
By the name of Woollcott
He and ate and drank and partied and insulted folks
Yes, quite a lot




And look, there’s George S. Kaufman
High hair and skinny as a rail
Though he wins no beauty contests,
His plays just never fail
(you can be my Robert Benchley)




Back in 1921
bootleg liquor there was plenty
You either had a bag of bills
Or you just didn’t have any
Though movies had no soundtrack
With Lloyd, Gilbert and Garbo
Round Tablers were all talkies:
Like George, Heywood and Harpo
(be my, be my, be my Robert Benchley)


While Dottie loved her Benchley,
They all said it was platonic
To think they’d ever hit the sheets
Was really quite moronic
When Benchley married Gertrude
Dottie nearly had conniptions
She was a girl without a brain
It just defied description


One day Dot and Benchley
Decided to incorporate
They had to call the company
A name that sounded great
They tried on this and tried on that
In English, Dutch and quasi-French
Till Alexander Woollocott said
“Why not call it Parkbench”




(You can be my Robert Benchley
You can follow me wherever I go)
Though Dottie loved her Benchley
His wit and clever thinkin’
There’s no doubt she corrupted him
And started him on drinkin’
He started chasing chorus girls
It saddens me to say it
But that’s the game that Benchley chose
And so he had to play it
Oh no, here we go – life is just one big pun,
Oh no, here we go – It’s Benchley on the run!



It’s sad to say this fairy tale
Doesn’t end in blazing glory
Benchley made short subjects
And Miss Parker wrote short stories
His liver conked at fifty,
And that’s not very groovy,
And his shorts are only fillers now
On Turner Classic Movies
Dorothy went on living
Smoking, drinking, taking lovers
But her heart belonged to Benchley
In her mind she had no other
Though her talent was unquestioned,
Her stories now are history
A product of her times, I guess
To me it’s just a mystery




You can be my Robert Benchley
You can follow me wherever I go
Be my, be my,
Be my Robert Benchley
 
Yes, thinking she is obsolete
Strikes me as quite absurd.
So let’s let Dorothy Parker
Have the final word:





Ballade Of A Great Weariness

There's little to have but the things I had,
There's little to bear but the things I bore.
There's nothing to carry and naught to add,
And glory to Heaven, I paid the score.

There's little to do but I did before,
There's little to learn but the things I know;
And this is the sum of a lasting lore:
Scratch a lover, and find a foe.

And couldn't it be I was young and mad
If ever my heart on my sleeve I wore?
There's many to claw at a heart unclad,
And little the wonder it ripped and tore.
There's one that'll join in their push and roar,
With stories to jabber, and stones to throw;
He'll fetch you a lesson that costs you sore:
Scratch a lover, and find a foe.

So little I'll offer to you, my lad;
It's little in loving I set my store.
There's many a maid would be flushed and glad,
And better you'll knock at a kindlier door.
I'll dig at my lettuce, and sweep my floor,
Forever, forever I'm done with woe.
And happen I'll whistle about my chore,
"Scratch a lover, and find a foe."




5 comments:

  1. You've captured her essence in the words and the photo sequence. From smartass queen thru the progression of weakening self possession to the weary resignation. That last photo makes me want to reach thru the screen and hug her. I wonder if her dual life - cerebral and physical - didn't epitomize the human dilemma, that of the role confusion passion brings. We want to control and surrender simultaneously. I suspect very few of us have the talent to negotiate that abutment without losing brio. My guess is Benchley and Parker had enuf of a fling to know where it would lead, and decided before it was too late they valued their friendship too much to risk it. Love your poem.

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  2. I am assuming everyone is familiar with the Barenaked Ladies' hilarious song, Be My Yoko Ono. The post doesn't make much sense without it.

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  3. Since when do poems need to make sense?

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  4. It's a SONG, not a poem!

    Be my (be my)

    Be my (be my)

    Be my Robert Benchley, oh yeah. . .

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