At 212 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” is “In My Room” sung by the Beach Boys and written by Brian Wilson and his buddy Gary Usher in Wilson’s bedroom when he was still a teen. Their age, in part, excuses the songs vapid lyric. There are eight lines (excluding “In my room”) each of roughly 7 syllables. It begins “There’s a world where I can go/And tell my secrets to.” This doesn’t make any damned sense. If you tell your secret to the world, they’re not secrets anymore. Furthermore, I see no reason you’d need go to your room to talk to the world. Presumably, though, he means a separate smaller world comprising his room and plush toys. These plush toys I imagine are the ones that listen to his secrets.
In case you’re wondering, the “greatest song of all time” is Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” The 500th greatest song is “Shop Around” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. It’s only one behind Weezer’s Buddy Holly.” That must really hurt Mr. Robinson.
I was reminded of Usher and Wilson’s song because I had to attend a meeting this week that I didn’t want to go to. That’s a distinction without a difference of course. If one were to draw a Venn Diagram of “meetings Caleb has to go to” and “meetings Caleb doesn’t want to go to” there would be a lot of overlap.
As pre-meeting me pondered the metal state of post-meeting me, I became worried for him. He looked clammy, and nervous. What I needed to find him was “a world where I can go/And tell my secrets to.” Clearly I was already incoherent, so I scheduled a walk through the Durfee Conservatory for future-me.
I am lucky to work on UMass’s “flagship” campus. We have a lot of wonderful resources and a really expensive football team. They’re so great they don’t even play on campus. We also have several under-publicized gems – the Durfee is one of those. I imagine it costs about the same as the football team’s uniform budget, but unlike the uniform budget, the entire public can enjoy it.
So on a not-so frigid January afternoon I got to see a collection of arid-land adapted plants like cactus. Ten feet away I stood under a palm tree and listened to the water in a koi pond. The next room had blooming orchids and smelled delicious. That’s not my word, another patron walked up to me, smiling ear to ear and said “it just smells delicious in here.” She looked hungry and I backed away, but it did smell good.
The final room I walked through holds camellias and bonsai trees and an Osmanthus (sweet olive) that fills the room with its sweet fragrance. The camellias are blooming like crazy. Unlike many greenhouse displays, this room doesn’t show many different species. Instead it focuses on just a few beautiful ones. The effect is like walking through a garden instead of a museum. I didn’t tell any secrets, but I forgot the meeting and left feeling much better.