A young dentist moved in next door a few years ago. He was a swell guy, doing his time in the Air Force and on his way to dentisthood IRL, or whatever it's called. He and his wife had two dogs and were about to have their first baby. Our little girl was grammar school age at the time, so they liked to hang around and see what it was going to be like to be parents.
When I was a young man,
I ran away from home.
I went to join the circus.
I went to see the cotton candy world
And make me lots of money.
On my own . . .
Oh, my pretty Molly.
She's waiting all alone.
Someday soon I will return to her.
His name was Ken. Her name was Joy. Have you ever had someone tell you that if you're doing business with a dentist that you're doing business with the dentist's wife? This is actually true. I don't know what it is, but these seem to be the prime targets for women who want to own a professional husband and don't have the balls to go after a doctor. Maybe the dentist feels a pang of guilt about his underachievement in the world of medicine, and is easy prey.
Then I made the big time,
Bright lights show biz.
I'm really in the circus.
There's only one thing wrong . . .
I haven't saved a penny
On my own,
Ah, my pretty Molly,
But she's writing every day;
Molly understands so it's OK.
We went out to eat with them at the Outback one night, and (I swear to God) Joy told Ken what to eat for dinner. "You order the such and such and I'll order the so and so and you'll give me part of that and I'll let you have part of this and then we might have dessert if I'm still hungry."
She was cute enough, but you could tell she wasn't going to age well. Ken was a damn good looking guy. He sorta looked like George Clooney. He and I played golf some afternoons over at the Air Force base, and he was fun to be around. A good sense of humor and a giving personality; all smiles.
Ride a windy boxcar
And see a thousand children,
Young and old.
Oh, that greasepaint smile
Can hide your soul.
Here comes the carousel;
Guess which town it is;
Feel the thrill.
Greasepaint covers everything
But winter's chill.
Big weepy strings come in that last part, just to make me feel the pain. It works.
This song was written by Biff Rose and I saw him do it on the Tonight Show back when Johnny Carson was the host. Biff Rose sorta faded away into obscurity, but this song never left my mind.
I'm reading Molly's letter.
The ink is fading
And the page is turning yellow.
I promised Molly,
Don't you know
I . . .
Oh, yeah. Ken and Joy. Well, my little girl had a doll from the American Girls Collection. (Those things cost a fortune. Don't even get into them if you don't have a trust fund.) The doll's name was Molly. So she and I were over at Ken's house one day talking to him and I asked him if he'd thought of a name for the kid. (I'd had a few beers. I used to start drinking earlier than I do now. Old age, you know.) We knew it was going to be a girl and she was due any day. Ken says, "You know, we can't really think of a good name."
My daughter looks at me for guidance and I say, "Sarah's got a doll named Molly. Don't you like that name? I do."
Ken's eyes light up. "Molly? Hmmm. That is a nice name!"
Somehow he pitched this idea to his overbearing wife and they have a kid named Molly now. I haven't seen them in years, but that kid will always be Molly. It is not because of that doll my daughter had, however: It's because of this song that was running through my head that afternoon.
. . . I will close my eyes and go to her.