elton john

by Jen Maidenberg

It starts as a gleeful dance in the kitchen while you fry up turkey bacon and lip sync in an effort to swallow tears of turning 40, of your parents now old enough to be your grandparents, now dead instead of driving across the wrong bridge to Philadelphia or hollering at you to leave your brother alone.

Last time you heard it was on a yellow school bus sitting in the parking lot outside Beth El awaiting an 8 a.m. departure to New York City, a trip you remember only in pictures, in the primary colors of the puffy winter jackets you all wore then. You sat in vomit that day, which may have been a different day because the bus with the vomit was a chartered bus, but still.

In the kitchen, you sway with closed eyes, unable to dissolve the image of your brother swinging from a branch of the weeping willow tree in your grandparents’ backyard and
I guess that’s why they call it the blues.
The kids stare, but there’s no use explaining how if they’re lucky they’ll one day hear this song and recall the smell of turkey bacon…frying in a pan.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” is a song composed and performed by Elton John, with lyrics by Bernie Taupin and Davey Johnstone. It was released in 1983 and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The author remembers first hearing the song on 98FM Philadelphia through a portable radio, while playing with her brother in her grandparents’ backyard in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Jen Oct 3 2015 rev1

Jen Maidenberg
is a professional writer and editor living in Israel. She is a candidate (2015) for a Master of Arts from the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University. Her creative nonfiction column, “My Time, Your Place” is published bimonthly in District Lit, an online journal of writing and art based in Washington, D.C.