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Margaret Elinore Chessington

I first met Danielle Gilman when I picked her up hitchhiking on Fordham Road in the Bronx. Our relationship was every bit as unlikely. We were lovers for a while, but we morphed into movie buddies, and she introduced me to the wonderful world of American Movies which we saw religiously each weekend at the Theater 80 St. Marks. I had been brought up mostly on foreign film but watching Astaire and Rogers with Danielle was a game-changer for me. There actually was a Margaret Elinore Chessington from Baltimore whom I met and had a brief conversation with around that time. I had no romantic interest in her but I thought her name scanned wonderfully well, it stuck in my head and emerged in this song. I played this song for Danielle; she was unimpressed (and I suspect did not like the way I portrayed her).



Margaret Elinore Chessington

Have you met the girl next door

Late arrived from Baltimore

Though she’d left four year or more before

Doesn’t get along with cats

You’d never catch her wearing hats

Or sitting with her legs crossed on the floor

She finds great warmth in cathedral bells

Is put off by a cloudless sky

Staring down the wind with stained glass eyes

Margaret Elinore Chessington from Baltimore

You’ll find you’re missing her before

She is even gone

Margaret is working on her doctorate

She won’t deny her habits for her health

She bears scars from times when she was rocked a bit

Like a Modigliani, stare at her and only see yourself

If you are the kind whose mind

Is metered off in ¾ time

You and here would probably disagree

She won’t waltz or pirouette

You’ll find her powder’s never wet

Although she’s dressed like Madame Bovary

If you don’t take a side

She’ll contradict herself

A potted plant upon a bedroom shelf

Margaret Elinore Chessington from Baltimore

Is always absolutely sure

Before anybody else

Margaret has hung around New  York too long

Searching for her star in smoggy skies

There is much of her that will elude this silly song

Like a Modigliani, she can melt or freeze you with her eyes

Margaret Elinore Chessington from Baltimore

Reigned there twenty years or more as queen

Left the throne they say for love

Put on her own white satin gloves

And for a year was neither heard nor seen

That made a lot of people think

About their younger days

The 5th Street winos sang and danced her praise

Margaret Elinore Chessington from Baltimore

Decided she’d be 24

Until her dying day

Margaret has never lost an argument

Agree with her and she will change her mind

And although she seems immune to sentiment

Like a Modigliani, Margaret goes very well with wine.