Unbidden echoes of pop culture past

As the dogs and cat gathered around this morning while I doled out their breakfasts, I began to sing to myself.

“A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse, of course, that is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed. Go right to the source and ask the horse, he’ll give you an answer that you’ll endorse … You’ve never heard of a talking horse? Well listen to this: [lower] I am Mister Ed!”

The animals looked up at me in anticipation, as if waiting for an explanation. I suppose, no, they were waiting for their food.

One wonders, though, why the theme song for a 1960s sitcom would pop into my head, and how I remembered the words. Some of those old themes refuse to die. (If I ever happen to say, “Fresh air!” Red is likely to respond “Times Square!” Look it up.)

The most amazing example of this phenomenon is the theme from a failed sitcom that eked through 26 episodes in the mid-60s before being mercifully canceled. I have experienced, on more than one occasion, saying to someone of a certain age “It’s about time!” and having them respond with song:

Then there was the time I started singing “Meet the Mets, meet the Mets, come on out and greet the Mets,” the theme song from the early New York Mets broadcasts, and discovered I still knew all the words, all the way through “from New – York – town!!!” It was preserved in my memory from 1962 – And then I went back into the living room and Red reminded me she had asked me to bring her a cup of coffee 45 seconds earlier.

Memory is an intriguing thing, and it’s fascinating how they pop up seemingly out of nowhere, like the Mr. Ed song. A generation before me, my mother might break out with, “Who knows – what evil – LURKS – in the hearts of men?” These are touchstones that linger in our minds, waiting for us to register and share them, perhaps to reassure and comfort another human being: “I was there, too. I remember those times.”

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was …

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