Tomorrow Belongs to Me

There is a scene in the movie Cabaret where Michael York and his lover are at a crowded beer garden. A boy stands up and sings. He is a beautiful boy. He has cheekbones that seem to be chiseled by a classical sculptor. He sings a song that tomorrow belongs to him. The camera pans down and we see his boy scout outfit and his swastika armband.

As he continues his song and his passion, other pretty youths stand up to sing with him. Then almost everyone in the beer garden are standing and singing about their selfish future. They don’t look happy about it. They sing angry. This is not a joyful noise. Just a noise. Like fingernails on chalkboards. Or air raids sirens. Or gas hissing from hidden jets.

In two shots of the scene, there is an old man drinking, or at least trying to drink his beer. We see him jostled by one of the youths standing up suddenly to sing this new anthem. Then we see him again amidst this tumult, his head resting on his surrendering fist.

He is not singing.

He has heard too many songs like this to join in. He wonders if he has enough years or will to survive past the length of this new empire, a long song that repeats the chorus endlessly, like trains on tracks. 

I wonder when I am sitting in a bar, minding my own history, what song will the youth sing around me? I know I don’t have the voice to join the chorus. But will I just sit, drink my beer and wait for the cancerous soul of a nation to heal itself, to change when the song is over. Like a record in an old jukebox, changing to the next selection.

I am uncertain what we might call the act of not standing. Of not singing. Of giving up the future to those with the loudest voice.

David Macpherson has published nearly 100 ebooks–novels, short story collections, memoir, explorations of pop culture, art criticism, humor as well as unclassifiable pieces. His work has appeared in Everyday Fiction, The Worcester Review, The Black Scat Review, The Binnacle and others. His column, “The Library of Disposable Art” appears monthly in Worcester Magazine.

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