In the Club one Tuesday morning, as I sat there quietly yawning
At the crossword in the paper with its clues so recondite
As I sat and sipped my whisky, in skipped Kenneth, very frisky,
Like some half-crazed Scottish pisky, asked me, eager but polite,
“Is it, maybe, rather risky, while I have you in my sight,
“To ask a question if I might?”
“You who sits, unkempt, unshaven, would you care to read ‘The Raven’,
“Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’, at our ghoulish party night?
“Join the poor accurséd bleeders, whom we’ve chosen to be readers,
“With Poe’s morbid morsels feed us, dressed in red and black (not white):
“Read that tale of broken-hearted sorrowing without respite?”
And I answered, “Yeah — all right.”
But, as I thought on this arrangement I recalled a prior engagement,
Something that could cause estrangement, scheduled for that self-same night
A promise made to someone’s daughter, to a fair maid that I sought to
Meet up with across the water, for a promise of delight.
This I solved with simple slaughter, hid the body out of sight,
Freeing me to say “All right.”
Thus I could begin preparing, working out what I’d be wearing;
Found a smoking cap in velvet on a crafts and clothing site.
Chose a shirt and jacket, fitting for the seat where I’d be sitting,
Reading words to have them shitting, shitting in their pants with fright.
Could I bring them fear and trembling, with a thrill of dark delight?
A small voice answered, “Yeah — all right.”
How short-lived my soul’s elation, pointless all my preparation,
Themis will have reparation for my wicked appetite:
For my dreadful deeds my curse is I must learn those doleful verses
Which in fear my soul rehearses all day long without respite,
Knowing until time reverses nothing can my soul requite,
All because I said, “All right.”
I sent some stuff on a slow boat to China this week. Then I made the mistake of telling the recipient that’s what I’d done and found myself having to explain why I’d used the phrase, that the boat wasn’t necessarily slow …
But in researching the date of the song (1948), I discovered that it gets its name from a phrase used in Noo Yoick poker playing circles, as frequented by the songwriter, Frank Loesser, to describe a player who loses steadily but handsomely.
You learn something new every day.
Unfortunately, at my age, you tend to forget it a few days later.