I’m remembering Tom fondly, and how my father and I used to listen to the show together every Saturday morning. Here’s a poem I wrote in Tom’s memory.
Elegy for a Belly Laugh - for Tom Magliozzi Yesterday a friend who’s known me longer than I’ve known myself looked across the wilderness of a dinner table into the frown blossoming on my forehead & asked do you make enough time to laugh? I thought of course… maybe… no… felt the frown spill into my cheeks & settle into a blush as I remembered lately how heavy it is to be a person in the world. Listen – I have never been one for much laughter. I am not the vessel cheer chooses when fording rivers. Like my father, my heart’s demeanor flutters between sour apple & daytime drizzle. Between his cognitive therapy & my flirtation with antidepressants, 2001 will always be the year of smiles on stilts. If medicine was the scaffold to happiness, laughter was the horizon we aspired to. Saturdays over pancakes we found it together, kitchen radio blaring banter from a duet of goofball geniuses crooning cheer into the solemnness of being, giving advice on cars, car repair, an-duhhh the delicate engineering of relating to spouses, mothers-in-law, & all breeds of mechanic. & though Ray came with the real comedic heat, it was Tom we needed, his great chuckles charging the gates of us like martyrs in a rebellion. We who struggle to laugh seek those who don’t. When my father & I could barely muster a chuckle, when sadness shrank our smiles into weak smirks, a voice on the radio helped us with the heavy lifting, gave us lengths of rope we’d need to swing back to happier plateaus, helped float the raft to carry us through to the next time our lips cracked with teeth & our mouths bloomed two meadows screaming white with daisies. Today my father & I smile easier, though are we not forever prone to hunched shoulders & deep sighs that pass unnoticed? Are we not counting down to the next solemn bell welcoming a wallowing week? I feel it now, in the belly of maybes that it is to be 25 & trying to live with purpose. I feel it in the devious creep of winter coming to pull the sunlight away until a warmer season. So to the friend across the dinner table, thank you. To the memory of a joyful voice, thank you. To the hours of belly laughter I will play again often, thank you – for the persistent reminder that laughter is not the cure, but it makes the disease easier. - Sam Gordon