“The Night” — Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons

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Photo by Altınay Dinç on Unsplash

I used to work with someone…let’s give her a 50’s name like Roxy instead of using her real name. She was the sweetest, kindest person you could hope to meet.

Roxy had a bit of a reputation as a daydreamer. And it’s true that you’d often find her at her desk nonchalantly twisting the curls in her hair as she chewed the end of her pen and gazed out the office window in the direction of nowhere in particular.

People would call her ditzy. To be fair, she did give off that vibe a bit, But if you wanted a 60 page document proofreading or the formulas in your multi-tabbed spreadsheet auditing, while guaranteeing every single error would be picked up, Roxy was the best person for the job in our organisation…by a country mile.

And Roxy had terrible luck with men. Actually terrible doesn’t do it justice. It was so much worse than that.

She was so sweet and kind that she’d be swept along with the romance of it all. She could fall hopelessly in love three or four times a week, but it always ended with her heart broken.

Roxy and I were only ever professional colleagues, but in a purely professional context I loved her. If anyone needed help, she’d be there. She was absolutely ace at her job…and in fact considerably more ace than the people running this business were at theirs.

The last thing I did before leaving this business was set things up so she had a secure job in the midst of one of the rounds of rolling redundancies this organisation became notorious for. She was a single mum with a couple of kids and I never told her what I was doing. I just tee’d things up to make sure she got the outcome she deserved.

It’s no exaggeration to say this was possibly the proudest moment of my professional life. When you can help someone who needs it and deserves it like Roxy did, you can’t help but feel you’ve done some good in the world for a change. (And she’s still there, many years later…probably gazing dreamily out of a different window now, but her kids are nearly grown up and she’s been able to feed them and clothe them in the years since, so I’m chalking that up as a good result in all the circumstances.)

Roxy told me once that her mum used to scold her for being a daydreamer.

Her mum, by all accounts, was a very practical, business-like person and I think having a daydreaming free spirit for a daughter probably drove her nuts.

Roxy came to associate “being a daydreamer” with not being good enough for her parents and, by extension, for the rest of the world. And that made me very sad.

What would the world be like if we didn’t have people dreaming of the future, crafting a better way, imagining solutions we don’t have today?

Dreamers aren’t a bad thing at all. Personally, I think the world could do with a lot more of them.

People just like my old colleague Roxy…kind, generous, sweet, understanding, always thinking the best of other people, never having a bad word to say about anyone…even people who had hurt her terribly.

I don’t know if people like Roxy aren’t around any more or if they’re all in hiding. Either way, humankind will rue the day we decided dreaming of a better future was something to be scolded and discouraged instead of something to be built upon and celebrated.

I haven’t seen Roxy for some years, but I always think of her when I hear Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons sing “The Night”…

This was Roxy after a first date with a new guy. Gazing out the office window, dreaming of living happy-ever-after, imagining life together into their sunset years.

Sweet and lovely though she was the rest of the time, there was an extra spring in Roxy’s step on mornings like this. I could always tell…the corners of her mouth twisted slightly upwards as she remembered how she’d felt the night before.

With two young kids she didn’t get out much, so the combination of some “me time”, just having someone say nice things to her, and putting her at the centre of attention for a change made the daydreams the morning after even sweeter than her usual ones.

I’d always watch out, though. A few days later, that subtle smile was usually gone and, if you looked closely, the eyes behind her glasses were a little more moist than usual.

Those were the days I’d bring her back some chocolate when I popped out for lunch, or make her a cup of tea in the afternoon, or contrive a meeting about something so I could make her laugh and hopefully help her feel the world wasn’t quite such a bad place after all.

I don’t know if any of this had the intended effect as we never talked about it. I never wanted to intrude and I wasn’t going to be with this business for long, so I didn’t want to become another entry on the long list of people who’d let Roxy down. But I tried the best I knew how.

Because I believe in dreamers. I believe in the free spirits. I believe the world would be a better place if we had more of them.

Of course, we need practical people too…that’s usually where I come in…but practicalities alone without being in service of the dreams of a better tomorrow just becomes a rehash of yesterday. Without dreamers, humanity is a poorer place.

A day was all it would take for Roxy to fall in love completely. She was the perpetual Labrador puppy of the dating world…always up for the next adventure…always ready to wipe the slate clean and try one more time in case the next guy turned out to be the man of her dreams…always prepared to believe her results in the future would be better than her results in the past.

Especially in the doom-laden world of 2020, we need more people like Roxy. Kind, sweet, generous, lovely people who genuinely care about other people and think only the best of them.

So when “The Night” by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons came on my car radio the other morning, as I always do when I hear that song, I thought back to that lovely human being, twisting her hair around her fingers, the subtle smile playing on her lips as she chewed the end of her pen and gazed into the middle distance through her office window.

And I don’t mind telling you, I said a silent prayer for Roxy and hoped someone was keeping an eye out for her.

“The Night” made it to the UK Top Ten in 1975, spurred on by its popularity on the Northern Soul circuit.

And it’s quite a tune. The soul comes through spectacularly, the harmonies tighter than you’d ever have thought possible, the production sublime.

“The Night” is a fantastic song, but every time I hear it I think of my old pal Roxy, gazing out the office window, and that reminds me of all the good things in the world.

https://open.spotify.com/track/2RWjugJQW9FQbQeun7CXav

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Without words, it’s just a nice tune. Add words — now you’ve got a song. And songs can change your world. I write about some that changed mine.

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