Monthly Archives: August 2014

This Week the Joke Is on Me

On Friday, I was at the last night of Free Friday Flicks of the summer. I was with a bunch of friends on the F***ing Pink Blanket, and told  them I was looking for something to write about for my blog this week. I should know better than to say something like that out loud. When the gods want to punish you they grant your wishes. Nothing came out of the evening, and I was mulling over a couple of thoughts on Sunday, when a random thought came into my head. Not a blog idea, mind you, it was something I wanted to check. My son had mentioned that his friend who is starting as a freshman at my son’s high school my son said school was starting Monday, as in today. I had shrugged it off–my son’s school has started on the Tuesday before Labor Day since he started there 10 years ago. It’s ALWAYS that Tuesday. I thought, maybe they were doing something different for freshman orientation. I hadn’t checked the schedule. I’ve been at this for 15 years, I don’t need to check a damn schedule. School ALWAYS starts on Tuesday. So the random thought came into my head that I should double-check. I had printed out the school schedule on Friday, but had not looked at it closely. I pulled it out almost as a way of confirmation and there it was. In a barely readable script font in the tiny square marked as August 25, it said “1st day.”

I went into a tail spin, which sounds stupid, I know. But for me, who had been enjoying a summer of getting to leave the house every morning without having to push out a sleepy, reluctant teen out the door, I had been counting on that one last morning of freedom. I was also feeling super guilty–I just yanked away a whole extra day from him too. I woke him up to tell him the news. No sense in getting enough rest on this last day before we were sentenced to school. He actually took it better than I did. He’d been in mourning for a few days, where as I had been skipping merrily along, holding out Monday like the Golden Ticket from Willy Wonka.

But all I got is Willy’s back and  dismissive, “Good Day!” So I’m out of time, out of ideas, and will NOT ask out loud for blog ideas again. Crap, I really hate school.

Let’s Do Things Without Shoes

A few weeks ago, I was listening to WERS, the independent radio station of Emerson College in Boston and heard this Police classic, “Canary in a Coal Mine.” I immediately was brought back to high school, laughing at my funny sister and her college friends who sang it as “Can Harry have a clothesline?” This became a staple line with my own group of friends. When I looked it up to see what album it came from (Zenyatta Mondatta), I found an online reminiscence of a woman and her friend who thought it was “Canary in coma,” which is also pretty funny.

It made me wonder, what other lyrics have people misheard? Yeah, I know there are a million of these lists out there, but these belong to me and mine. I polled my friends and got a bunch of great responses that can be broken down into sub categories. I also learned some of us seem to thrive on the cheekiness of it more than others, with my sister’s and my friends leading the pack. Hmmm, birds of a feather?

All-Time Most Confusing Lyrics
“Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band has got to the song that wins the “most messed up misheard lyrics” category. The main reason, of course, is the real lyrics are pretty incomprehensible anyway. I mean who among us has heard correctly this stanza:

Blinded by the light.
Revved up like a deuce
Another runner in the night.

I mean, what’s a deuce? Why is it revved up and running in the night? No one knows, which is why we all have our own versions. My friend Kami’s brother, when he was about 6, sang it (rightly to my mind) as:

Blinded by the light
Rackaflackadouchinal
Another roader in the night

She says, ” ‘Rackaflackadouchinal’ is still a word we toss around in the family…even 40 years later.” I can understand why and will start singing it myself that way. She goes on to say that when they tried to correct it, they heard it as “Wrapped up like a douche/Another roader in the night.” I confess I heard “douche” too, but I heard “Wrapped up like a douche/into the roller in the night.”

My friend Becky agreed that these lines have been the subject of “many debates and bifurcated lyrics.” Amen, sistah. She also thought the words were “Wrapped up like a douche.” Her “corrected” version was “Revved up like a goose,” and, really if you’ve seen a pissed off goose, that one actually makes some kind of sense. Her second line is “another roamer in the night.” Roader/roller/roamer—that mad goose really gets around.

Misheard Lyrics from Kids
Kids don’t have a lot of words in the first place, so this is a naturally rich ground for misunderstanding. When my son was in preschool, he came home singing “Queenay, Queenay, eBay Queenay.” His dad and I were puzzled, so we’d ask “Who’s Queenay?” Lucas thought this was hilarious and so added it to the end of his song. It took us about six months to figure out it was from a Barney song (we avoided that show like the plague), “Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up.” I’m sure the preschool staff must have loved it when he sang the “Who’s Queenay” part, as if he were saying, who’s everybody? Not me—I’m not cleaning up anything!

My friend Gloria’s daughter proudly sang when she was 4, “No tellin’ on the mountain that Jesus Price is born.” Apparently no one told, so that’s why this is the first we’re hearing of it.

Classic Misheard Lyrics
I got a number of people who sent in the Jimi Hendrix lyric, “ ‘scuse me while I kiss this guy.” In fact, I would argue that is the true lyric, and that the alternate lyric, “Kiss the sky” was made up by the record label to avoid controversy. As my friend David noted, Jimi was clearly ahead of his time in support of marriage equality.

Bridget sent me the Jimi one and this classic one from Credence Clearwater Revival, “Bad Moon Rising”: “There’s a bathroom on the right,” which maybe should be “There’s a bad moon on the rise,” but who’s to say?

These Lyrics Kind of Make Sense
Sometimes the words make enough sense that you may not even know they are wrong. Susan offered a line from a song by Zoe Lewis, an indie singer: she thought the song said, “enormouses of pachyderms,” which kind of makes sense in a poetic way—elephants are pretty enormous, and it seems like an indie singer thing to say. The real lyrics are “enormous ears of pachyderms”—kind of a let down, really. Susan also thought the Petula Clark song, “Downtown” was “Down, down,” which is pretty funny because she grew up around New York City, so she would know a downtown better than those of us in the suburbs. But she is kind of right that the first lines of the song make sense with her lyric: “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go down, down.” Thankfully the real lyrics are a little more uplifting, unless you hate cities, then you’re really down, down.

Too Cute to Correct
In the 70’s there was a song called “You Can’t Change That,” by Raydio. My beloved grandmother was good about putting the radio on a station we kids would like, and she always sang along to this song, but with the words, “And the cat came back,” while doing this cute little dance. We were about to correct her, but then she told us how it reminded her of this old song about a cat coming back that made her laugh when she was a kid. We started singing it her way with her and doing her little dance, and as far as I’m concerned, that song is about a cat.

Misheard Lyrics That May or May Not Involve Alcohol
Whether the alcohol initially influenced mishearing the lyric or inspired a better wrong lyric, these are pretty funny, submitted by my sister and her college crew:

Pat Benetar’s “Hit me with your best shot” became “Hit me with your lead pipe,” or “Hit me with your kumquat.”

The Go-Gos “Our lips are sealed” became “Our tits are feeled,” which was probably true given how much they drank at her college.

Real Lyrics I Just Learned About as a Result of This Blog, Plus an Overactive Imagination
My sister said my brother-in-law sings the Jimmy Buffet, “Margaritaville” song line, “Blew out my flip flop/stepped on a pop top” as “stepped on a pop tart,” which is pretty funny. But I was like, wait, “pop top”? I always thought it was “pop pop,” which I imagined was a cool island name for those weird black poisonous spiny urchin things you find in the Caribbean waters. Did I mention I am terrified of those things? Of course now that I think about it, why would he sing about a dangerous creature in such a laid back song? But it must be an island thing…yeah, right.

Another overly imaginative, but quite fun misheard lyric is from John, who heard Eric Clapton’s “I Shot the Sheriff” as “Eye shocker Shari.” He wrote “I guess it shows where my 8th grade brain was. It had to be about some sexy girl named Shari. Eye shocker Shari–and how did it fit with the rest of the song? ‘I did not kill the deputy’ Well, I don’t know, maybe the guy was so hot for Shari, he was simply out of his mind. Or maybe I was.” Well, John, I call it writer’s imagination, and clearly some of us may be a little too good at this. Which brings me to the…

Misheard Lyrics All Stars
So back to the birds of a feather thing. This batch is from my ex, who is probably the best at mishearing lyrics, and my girls and their peeps—we’ve known each other from before high school and they still make me laugh.

From my ex: In the Fleetwood Mac song “Dreams,” the end of the chorus is, “When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know,” but the way Stevie Nicks puts the emphasis on the second syllable of “washes” my ex heard it as, “When the rainbow shaves you clean you’ll know.” I’m guessing that’s true—you will definitely know.

The other one of his that is priceless is the B-52s song, “Roam.” He heard the line, “Roam if you want to” as “Row misty watoo,” which makes no sense, but is wicked fun to say.

Sue (via her college friend): In the Police’s song “Every Breath You Take,” the line, “How my poor heart aches with every step you take,” became “I’m a pool hall ace with every step you take.” Who doesn’t want to be a pool hall ace?

Sue’s husband John: Billy Joel’s, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.” The line “Brenda and Eddie (were the popular steadies)” he heard as “Brenda Rinetti,” which makes sense because it was an Italian restaurant, get it?

Gloria offered Neil Diamond’s “Forever in Blue Jeans” as “Reverend Blue Jeans.” He’s adored enough for that one to fly.

She also heard Adele’s “Rumor Has It” as “Cooper has it.” And he needs to give it back!

Colleen: From the 70s song by 10cc, “I’m Not in Love,” when they sing/whisper “Big boys don’t cry,” she thought it was “Be questing quiet.” (“Who knows?” she added.) Sounds like a Zen thing to me, Col.

She also heard “It’s too late to apologize” by OneRepublic as “It’s too late to call the judge.” It really does sound like it, and you know, it often is too late to call the judge.

Deb and her peeps had a delicious boatload of them—mishearing seems to run in her family:

The Stones “I’ll never be your beast of burden,” was, “I’ll never be your big suburban.” And hybrid owners will agree.

The Stevie Nicks song, “White winged dove,” was “One winged dove,” and she even took her mishearing to the next level: At the concert, she put one arm up like a wing and flapped it. I like that kind of commitment.

Deb’s sister Donna: Instead of Elton John’s “Oh little Jeannie,” she heard “Oh little G-man.” Well, Elton was looking for a man…

And these two are my favorites: Deb’s uncle Frank thought the Bee Gees “More than a woman,” was “Four letter woman.” I kinda want to be one of those, now.

Deb’s childhood friend thought “Do the Hustle” was “To the hacksaw,” which sums up many a disco hater’s feelings.

Best All-Time Misheard Lyric
As subjectively judged by me and the person who misheard it, the all-time winner is a Police song, “The Bed’s too Big Without You,” from the album Regatta de Blanc. If you’re not familiar with the song, it’s has a reggae beat and Sting sings that line three times. On the third repetition, he pauses in the middle of it for a few beats and then croons Sting-like “Without you!” Jeanette sang it quite seriously as “Let’s do things without shoes, let’s do things without shoes, let’s do things…without shoes!!!” Sting, you can use the lyrics but you gotta pay Jeanette royalties

What are your favorite misheard lyrics? You know you have them—lay ’em on me!

California Steamin’

I was having lunch with my friend Mike (of the “You Should Be Dancing” post) this past week and he mentioned casually that our mutual friend Chris was flying out to California to interview at Google. I set down my fork and looked him straight in the eye. “No, he can’t go.”

Mike, who is familiar with my grand pronouncements, just smiled. “Oh really?”

“We already lost Stephen to that…that place,” I couldn’t even bring myself name it. “I’m not losing any more friends to it. That’s final.” Considering the case closed, I resumed eating.

Stephen, a born and bred New Englander, was wickedly funny, acerbic, and irreverent. I looked up to him for those reasons and because he came from Massachusetts. I’m from Connecticut, which, truth be told, has little street cred in New England. Don’t get me started—I know we don’t have an accent and we don’t really have a quintessential tourist thing for you to come a thousand miles for, like a peak with the worst weather in the world or the Kennedy Compound. But I fixed that by moving to Boston, and becoming a proud Masshole. And Stephen was the finest example of the Massachusetts flavor of cranky, caustic New England humor. I knew him for years. And then. He moved. To Cali… to that place. I told myself that he was strong, he’d show them, those flaky LA people with their white teeth and vintage cars.

But then I had a flashback of another person I had lost to that vacuous geography. He was a friend from college who was born and bred in New York. Granted he wasn’t a New Englander, but New Yorkers invented snark and he was hard-core. Didn’t trust a soul and was paranoid. I loved him. But I should have known when he showed interest in my Eagles album, Hotel California. I had bought it, but—big surprise—lost interest in it. He was a huge Eagles fan, so I offered it to him. I still remember how wary he was about it. He made me repeat multiple times that I wanted nothing in return, now or later. I loved him for that, too. Finally he accepted the album. God knows how long he waited in silent paranoia for me to call him up and say, “Remember that Eagles album I gave you? Well, I have a favor to ask.” I would never find out because shortly after college, his career path in filmmaking took him you know where. He claimed it would only be for five years, until he got enough experience.  At first he said he felt like an alien—people couldn’t understand him because they said he talked too fast. Guess what LA freaks, you listen too slow. But it didn’t last, and he was assimilated as sure as if a Borg ship had landed. That was 25 years ago. He ain’t coming back.

And then Stephen went out there for a job. Oh, sure he comes East about once a year, but that first year, I knew right away he was a goner. He had the gall to show up smiling. Happy. Soft. No snarky jokes, no cutting observations. He was nice. WTF? I had to goad him for a full five minutes before old Stephen showed up. Then he made a rude observation and said, “I missed you, Sandy!” No shit, Sherlock. You miss yourself! He’d clearly lost his way with all those vapid, soulless people in the freakin’ sunshine.

Which brings me to another problem I have with that place. Sunshine, my ass. You may be thinking I’ve never been there, and I’m making crabby, cranky unfounded statements. That would be an appropriate New England thing to do, but oh, no, I’ve been there. My friend Gloria (of the Prius and furniture post) and I drove cross-country a few years after college, a southerly route, east to west. Before driving to LA, we hiked into and camped in the Grand Canyon for a few days, where it rained a river in our small tent, and washed out one of the main water houses along the nearly 8 miles of desert trail. That meant we had to hike out, all uphill, hauling a gallon of water each (plus our full packs). I’ve never fantasized so much about breaking a leg so I could get helicoptered out. Why am I digressing? Well, after the Grand Canyon we drove west to LA to its youth hostel. When we got up the next morning, we saw it was cloudy. We’d grown up on “CHiPs” and “Starsky and Hutch,” all long commercials for this famous California sunshine. So a couple of crabby New Englanders assume we’re going to see some effin’ sunshine, and we were looking forward to it since we’d nearly bought the farm in the Grand Canyon. But it was definitely cloudy, like dark gray cloudy. Rain cloudy. We’re cloud experts, and we’d just been torrentially rained on in an alleged desert. We had earned the right to ask the question.

“Is it going to rain today?” To our credit, we said it in a puzzled tone.

The youth hostel worker replied in a haughty voice, “It never rains in California.”  I could have respected him if he’d said, “Sure, just after monkeys fly out of your ass.” That’s straight shooting; that’s New England. But he didn’t have a personality, just a fake superiority springing from his lame brain.

Gloria, also born in Connecticut and honing her skills in Maine, retorted in her best crusty voice, “Yeah? It’s not supposed to rain in the Grand Canyon either, and we’re still wringing out our tent.” She didn’t add “pretty boy,” but it was clearly implied.

LA boy merely sniffed at us. “It’s smog, and burns off at noon.” Noon? NOON? Are you serious? That’s not full on sun, you LA people who can’t count. That’s HALF a day of sunshine. Not ALL day, HALF. So not only do we have to put up with the attitude and the cardboard cutout people, but we’re also supposed to sit here and swallow this bunk about the sunshine? I think not, you half-assed tools.

Understandably pissed off, but trying to be as generous as possible for two New Englanders, we decided not to Judge. Yet. We’d spent close to a month driving across country and had encountered many interesting and entertaining people, including a waiter in Texas named Laredo and a Grand Canyon blacksmith who had a handle bar mustache and kept us rapt with tales of skittish tourists and kicking mules. I can tell you, and Gloria will confirm, we did not meet anyone like that in LA. We met a number of assorted people and all were vacant and uninteresting. No accents, no tall tales, no weird little social rituals left over from the Civil War. Nothin’.  And that gave us the right to judge. We did and still do. We did not meet another interesting person until we drove to San Francisco, where the people in the bar listened carefully to our LA tale and confirmed our suspicions. And no, they were not cranky people, they were strangely nice, but we didn’t hold it against them because they had personalities.

So maybe it’s LA I don’t like, but California is a big place and who knows how much of the blankness seeps out on yearly basis? Better safe than sorry, I say. That’s how we roll in New England. We hold grudges, we say what we mean, we tell you when we don’t like you, and we don’t fake our sunshine.

We are also loyal to our friends, so my final offer to you, Chris, is this: You can go to the interview. If you get the job, I prefer that you work in Cambridge, MA. But if you must, you may work in one of the offices closer to San Francisco. This thing called Silicon Valley didn’t exist when I visited, and for all I know it’s another LA sinkhole, but I hear they are nerdy, so that’s something.

Photo credit: Edison Avenue. The 80s band Missing Persons had it right with its song “Nobody Walks in LA.”

Blanche Says, Let It Ride Girl

During a particular low time during the divorce process, I got hooked on reading a relationship advice column online. There’s something validating in reading about other people’s relationship issues. It also let loose my inner, cigarette-smoking, world-weary vamp named Blanche. I just rolled my eyes at the 20-something writer who declared the person who just dumped him was the One and what should he do now? But Blanch took a long drag on her cigarette and exhaled a pointed stream of smoke at the advice seeker’s post. “No such thing as the ‘One,’ sweetheart,” she declared in her gin-soaked voice of gravel.

Another advice seeker claimed everything in the relationship was perfect, except she wanted a child and the partner didn’t. Could the partner be won over? I thought not, but stayed quiet to be polite. Blanche, however, tapped the worn wood of the bar twice next to her empty shot glass, watched the bartender fill it up with Gordon’s, tipped it back and slammed down the glass. “Not gonna happen. Put up or get the hell out.”

The ill-fated office romances and those contemplating divorce after a few years of marriage when a new “soul mate” appeared on the horizon got nothing more than Blanche’s derisive snort.

It was a pretty fun game for me and Blanche until the law of averages started to catch up to us. You read enough of these letters and sooner or later you’ll get to situations that are uncomfortably close to home: midlife folks asking about the rules of dating in the world of Facebook and texting. When to introduce the kids. And yea gods, trying to decide on divorce number two! Being solitary by nature and still processing my marriage and divorce, I have no interest in dating or finding another partner. But if I’ve learned nothing else during a 20-year marriage and subsequent divorce, it’s never say never. My guilty pleasure at making fun of the advice seekers transformed into an uncomfortable dread of having to face this situation at some point, no matter how unlikely. Then I would be one of the letter writers: “I finally got an interesting email on Match.com, what do I do now? Help!”

Blanche will flick her dangling cigarette ashes at me, before raising her shot glass. “Get back on the damn horse, girl, and let it ride.”

photo credit: Fooyoh.com