Late Christmas Eve found me navigating slick roads a degree above freezing with ample fog as I started my long drive to visit family for Christmas. I turned the car radio to a non-stop Christmas station to keep me company. About three songs in, Bing Crosby’s “Let it Snow” come on the radio and suddenly he was sitting in the passenger seat of my vehicle. This was the third time he has shown up at Christmas over the last few years so I wasn’t completely surprised, but can’t say I was expecting him either.
Bing still loves to hear his songs on the radio, a phenomenon he described as “practical immortality”. As he sang along with himself he was waxing nostalgic and mentioned that he found one of the back-up singers “girls” quite cute at the time he recorded the version I was listening to. I gave him a bit of a sideways glance and asked if he was married with children by that time. He laughed ruefully and said “that time” he had only looked, not touched. He said infidelity on his part came later down the road.
As in the past I think my grandfather sent Bing to keep me company. They were drinking buddies when both lived in the same Spokane boarding house as young men. This impression was reinforced when Bing showed me a picture of my grandparents together in heaven. I had to laugh and wondered if he had been reading J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” books because my grandparents looked like they were straight out of a “wizard photograph” as they smiled and waved in what most of us would recognize today in a GIF loop or short repeating video. As my grandfather died a few years before my birth it was lovely to see them together and happy.
As I reached the top of the hour I switched radio stations to hear the national news. After the news was over I realized I was on Coast to Coast radio, a station I also enjoy listening to on long late drives. I was interested in the guest but Bing wasn’t having it and urged me to turn back to the Christmas station. I did so and “White Christmas” was playing. However it was a remake, not Bing’s well-known version of it. I asked him about that and he replied with the old cliché that “imitation was the sincerest form of flattery”. Suffice to say, like a chef who enjoys their own cooking, Bing likes his own music the best.
As I left the interstate Bing wished me a Merry Christmas, a good night and disappeared. I have not seen or heard from him since, but that was not surprising as he had accomplished the task he had been sent to do, see me home safely for Christmas. The miles sped by with such illustrious company, especially company who could and did manipulate the radio to suit himself.
(c). 2016 Lynne Sutherland Olson
All rights reserved.