tintinnabulation.

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Just saying “tintinnabulation” aloud makes me word woozy! Many thanks to the indomitable Sidney Clifton — herself a keen teller of story — for the opportunity to wrangle with this word.

From the Latin tintinnabulum (bell), tintinnare (to ring), tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), popularized by Edgar Allen Poe in his poem THE BELLS circa 1849.

“the lingering sound of a ringing bell that occurs after a bell has been struck”

Tinny

You have to hear this.

D, returned from a weekend road trip to Athens — Georgia, not to be confused with one of her jaunts to foreign lands, of which I was wildly envious — cupping a cassette tape like my father with a Latin hymnal, reverent, vibrating with knowledge of the divine.

Scribbling with THE BARONESS (aged rum cocktail) at The Eddy

Scribbling with THE BARONESS

D and I, high school transfers, new student standouts in a class reared together since kindergarten. Near-identical AP class schedules, impassioned discussions of The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, As I Lay Dying that raged beyond the bell, ranged far afield, brushed up against darker terrain. She attempted to tutor me in pronouncing passable French; I endeavored to illuminate for her the metaphors of physics. Wary friendship. We spoke little of our families, her real estate tycoon mother as much local legend as my former pro ballplayer father, we presumed familiarity. Everyone else had read the newspaper stories. I did not ask beyond what she grudgingly volunteered — brother away at college, stepfather referred to as “Mr.” — she made none of the usual inquiries, either. Our tacit understanding verged on complicit.

You have to hear this.

Our teenage soundtrack consisted of the indelible radio rock anthems of a previous generation clinging to cultural dominance, bluesy standards wafting from behind the swinging doors of every Southern bar, smooth-groove love ballads signaling couples skate at the roller rink, baroque metal nodded to by friends’ older brothers in bedrooms shrouded in clandestine smoke.

Music that belonged to others.

Gin. Rhymes with "tin"...

Gin. Rhymes with “tin”…

D picked me up after my shift slinging fries at a local fast food joint, we tore down a highway, windows down, wind whipping. Six-packs sweating in the trunk. A moon bright enough to read liner notes by, song titles hinting at mysteries beyond the ken of radio rock, “Pilgrimage”, “Moral Kiosk”, “Talk About the Passion”. “Radio Free Europe”.

D popped in her precious cassette, clacketyclack of spokes hitting groove, whir of tape straining to spin. The first musky notes, an insistent urging downbeat of drums. That voice, raw, keening.

un café américain à Cantine Parisienne

une café américain

Parked by a lake — a once-popular make out spot, until the cops caught wind —we listened to the album straight through and over again, the music echoed across the water in concert with the crinkled buzz of palmetto bugs, the spaces between the notes thrummed. We drained beers and the car battery, listened in lieu of conversation. Listened until we nearly discerned the mumbled lyrics, discovered a new rhythm in the unfamiliar cadence, heard truths in the unexpected pauses. A cascade of aural epiphanies.

Music without history. Music we might claim as our own.

After the beer ran out we drank warm juice — packed to mix with the vodka we failed to procure — hazarded brief eye contact, conspiratorial. Curfew loomed. It seemed wrong to start the cassette again when we would not have time to listen to the thing whole. We let the lyrics linger, let our private discoveries reverberate in the sticky Southern air. Let our silence speak volumes.

You have to hear this.

Spirits are stirring...

Spirits are stirring…

“tintinnabulation” handwritten with THE BARONESS (aged rum cocktail) and a bespoke concoction featuring Watershed Distillery’s Bourbon Barrel Gin (wowza) whipped up by the gleeful mix-master behind the bar at the eddy (east village, nyc). In the wake of such cocktail inspiration, revisions took place amidst the musical murmurs of French waiters at Cantine Parisienne (nolita, nyc).

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4 thoughts on “tintinnabulation.

  1. What’s ringing in my ears long after the sounds of your story are none but an echo is the all too familiar, bittersweet feeling of having flown over familiar land on a rickety hydroplane. Thank you for taking me there..
    with love, d.

    Like

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