Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mysteries of the Velvet Fog

Do you have a question that you wish you could go back in time and ask a relative who has passed away? Perhaps you had an Uncle who Marched on Washington or a Mother who gave a child up for a adoption prior to your birth. But due to missed opportunities, time, and the inadequacy of words to phrase the simple question of "Why?" we never found out the answer to important choices in our loved one's lives.

My mother, her sister (my aunt), and I have all been plagued by one of those questions since the passing of my grandfather nearly fifteen years ago. 

My grandfather was a person who never spoke an ill word about any person. I remember him as being having a smile presented to any person from any walk of life. But there was one person that he hated more than anyone we could ever imagine, a man that raised a uniquely high level of bile, piss, and foam in his mouth and we never found out why.

My Grandpa hated the "Velvet Fog," Mel Tormé.

My mother and I learned of this loathing about year prior to my Grandfather's death. We were watching the news in from my Grandpa's upstate New York apartment when it was announced that Tormé would be doing a series of shows in New York City. Upon hearing this announcement, Grandpa started grumbling and then shouted, "God I hate that goddamn son of a bitch." My mother and I too shocked to respond started laughing.

Of course we didn't think to ask the question "Why?" And to this day, we regret that decision.
As a kid growing up in the 80s, I knew of Mel Torme as a running gag from Night Court, single-handedly the best slap-stick-court-room-drama to air on television. 

Watching Night Court, I learned the importance of the Judicial Branch of Government, Justice Never sleeps (apparently court continues 24-hours-a-day in New York City), and that 509-B involves explosion of poultry...

Enough about Night Court...

To this day my impression of Mel Tormé is a mixed bag of comic relief with a great singing voice who my Grandpa (whom I loved dearly) hates more than satan himself.

So I speculate…

I like to imagine that sometime during the 1950s, somewhere in the Catskills, my Grandfather is out driving along the rode when a New York City hot shot singer shows up speeding down the road in a fancy car and tries to race. The Racer is Tormé and he's a bastard.


My Grandfather ventures into the city on one of the few rare jaunts that he takes there. Granted, he's a blue collar worker and going to the city is a big expense. While there he walks into a bar and meets some young snob--turns out to be…Tormé and he's a real bastard.


Well basically all the stories end with Tormé being not the comic relief, the smooth crooner, or anything else, he's just some SOB bastard that my grandfather described in that one blurt of emotions.

In my mind I picture a fight. I picture my grandfather having to be pulled off of Tormé--both men going there separate ways, vowing never to speak of the event again

But this is mere speculation.

And I am always wondering why Tormé is a son of a bitch.