Accept With the Left

[This is an excerpt from my unfinished and never-to-be-published musical mem-wah, Stories of My Tunes. If there was ever any doubt about my willingness to make myself a public spectacle, this dispels it. SB SM]

This tune originated on June 4, 1966, the year I graduated from Moses Brown in Providence, Rhode Island. Mrs. Monahan, a feisty battle ax of a Latin teacher was rehearsing us for the big event scheduled for the “shadow of the elms” the following day. As soon-to-be emancipated seniors, we were seriously into horsing around, but Mrs. Monahan was having none of it.

“If there’s one thing to remember for tomorrow, ONE THING!” she said sternly, “When the Headmaster calls your name from the podium to get your diploma, walk to the stage and ACCEPT WITH YOUR LEFT HAND and SHAKE WITH THE RIGHT. Someone always screws this up. Don’t let it be you. You will look like a fool, and I will not have done my job. Remember … ACCEPT WITH YOUR LEFT, ACCEPT WITH YOUR LEFT, ACCEPT WITH YOUR LEFT!”

The phrase, like a bad penny, has stuck with me ever since. This song was completed 49 years later. The lyrics aren’t too bad. The music, videography, and performance, however, define cringeworthy.

Accept with the Left

I want to thank my Mama,
I want to thank my Pa,
I want to thank the little people,
for making me a star.
I believe in God and country.
I hope you’re suitably impressed,
when I remember as I reach the stage
to accept with the left.

I want to thank the Mayor
for giving me the key.
I want to thank the members
of the whole academy.
And to all the faceless voters
on the Internet,
I will remember as I reach the stage
to accept with the left.

Oscar, Tony, Pulitzer Prize …
My future never seemed so bright.
But on my mind as I walk down the aisle
I remind myself to shake with the right.

I’ve prepared a couple comments
that I’m hoping that you’ll like,
because there is no other option,
I’m the one who has the mike.
For the moment please indulge me
be like monkeys in a cage
‘Cuz my message short and sweet is …
“Life is but a stage.”

I thank you all for coming,
but it’s time for me to go.
Rest assured another player
will continue with the show.
What it really all comes down to,
yeah, the litmus test,
will you remember when you reach the stage
To accept with the left?

Oscar, Tony, Pulitzer Prize …
They all seem to come my way.
Nobel, Clio, and People’s Choice
This dog sure is having his day.

I want to thank my Mama
I want to thank my PA
And my friends up in the cheaps seats
Yeah, you know exactly who you are.
I will share with you my mantra,
then I’ll quickly turn the page
It’s “Play loud! Play fast!
Then get the hell off the stage!”

And here … performed without music skill, video proficiency, or human dignity … is Accept With the Left.

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