Opinion » Bill Cope

The Flutter: Ish 7

The Society for Making People Feel Better newsletter


Fellows and Mesdames in good standing--(FAMIGS, which is what we call Society members who are up to date with their dues and are not currently serving a prison term)--Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!

As I compile material for Issue 7 of our beloved Flutter, summer is adwindling down. The children have returned to their mobile classrooms, the Pronto Pup distribution centers down at the Fairgrounds have been dismantled, and the stink of Bronco pheromones fills the air. We look forward to a few more weeks of tolerable temperatures and wafting spiderwebs, then months of ever-rising heat bills, sodden piles of leftover leaves, the unrelenting drab of the Boise Front and leering television gargoyles reminding us that Christmas is right around the f***ing corner.

So then, on this cusp of the season of our discontent, discomfort and clinical depression, what better time to look back on our summer and rejoice in all the fun we had throughout those halcyon days of sun and barbecue sauce, eh? I'll go first, as I am still the Society's Grand Marshal, after all. What's more, I intend to use the opportunity to add a rule or two to the Revised SFMPB Rule Book. Don't worry. Nothing heavy or hard to comply with. Any new rules we acquire today will simply reflect whatever eternal truths I divined over the course of the summer.

As an example, Rule 12 reads, quite simply, "Earth, Wind & Fire is the best band ever, and we must never allow anyone to tell us otherwise."

That rule isn't difficult to comply with, is it? Yet I imagine a handful of you would want to ask, "But what about the Stones? What about Lady Gaga? What about the Beatles, for God's sake?"

To which I would reply, "Excuse me, but I will hear none of that crazy talk. And if you can't stifle yourself, perhaps your interests would best be served in another organization."

See? I only wish all the rules were that easy to comply with.

Now, as to what I did last summer. It was remarkably uncomplicated, my summer. It would all fit comfortably into four cubbies: 1) plant the garden, 2) water the garden, 3) weed the garden, 4) go see Earth, Wind & Fire. From May to last weekend, my summer fun consisted entirely of the first three items on that list. Oh yes, I went barefoot on occasion, ate some watermelon and managed to avoid catching the West Nile virus. But essentially, summer at my house is a barrage of lawn and garden chores, interrupted sporadically by a neighbor's rottweiler running loose or the distant scream of a child going laterally off a trampoline.

Last weekend, though, was different. Along with a nice couple from the 'hood (not the ones with either the rottweiler or the trampoline) my wife and I motored to the Columbia River, sat on the banks over-looking that impressive gorge and enjoyed our all-time favorite musical ensemble from the last century of popular culture. I told her ahead of time I wouldn't dance, but the band got the better of me.

We had seen Earth, Wind & Fire in Dayton, Ohio, 30 years ago when the two of us were barely out of our 20s. They were in their prime, as were we. Maurice White, the man who put them together and fronted the stage, lit up like a Christmas tree as they performed. Some of the more spiritually deaf called them just another funk band or just more disco. But EW&F transcended all that, reaching for something ever higher. They could lead a crowd to common awe over what human beings can do, they were so damn good. I danced that night, too. From the first blast to the last.

I was asked before the weekend if I was trepidatious about revisiting such a gleaming memory, and I was. Maurice White has fallen from the stage, stricken with Parkinson's, and not only is the rest of the group 30 years older, but so are Ma and Pa Cope. Three decades of crust and disgust have built up on my boogie shoes, and I feared there was no music left that could take me up, up and away so thoroughly.

Good old EW&F, though, they haven't dropped a beat. From the first blast to the last, old Cope's booty was ashaking. When the miraculous voice of Philip Bailey soared into the stratosphere, my spirits soared with it. I had either a stomp, a clap or a finger snap for every punch the horn section blew. More than once, I watered up. That's how damn good they are, still. Joyous and transcendent and inspired. Enough to make a grown man cry. And enough to make a grown man dance. It wasn't pretty to watch, I'm sure. But at least my knees didn't give out.

Toward the end of the concert, I came up with both Rules 12 and 13. The former you already know about, and the latter was a repeat of an epiphany I'd had earlier in the summer on one of those evenings when the sun sets below a cloud cover and lights up the hills with a living golden glow. It's a rare bit of Treasure Valley meteorological magic, and I have loved it since I was a kid. And when the same, exact same thought came to me, there overlooking the Columbia with the best band ever making my summer, I realized it would make a pretty good rule for the Society For Making People Better. So without further ado, I give you Rule 13: "Do remember that every time you experience something you love, it may well be for the last time."

Should be self-explanatory, but if enough FAMIGSs complain they don't get it, I'll spell it out in some future Flutter.