Tag Archives: laughing

Dirty Laundry

It’s been one of those weeks where work suddenly went from 100 to 1,000 and none of us could figure out if we were just recovering more slowly than usual from the post-Thanksgiving food coma or if work really had picked up exponentially. I found myself constantly chanting calming mantras more in the style of George’s “Serenity now!” in Seinfeld than like a person attempting to access her higher self. My Higher Self does seem to go off to a mountaintop and leave me when the going gets tough. Witch. And even though Higher Self had abandoned me, I was still trying to be good and not manage stress with cheese, chocolate, and wine, my weapons of choice. As an alternative, after work I was looking forward to seeing a friend who makes me laugh–the perfect antidote to work stress, right?

Then he had to cancel. Uh oh. My wafer thin determination to do the right thing melted faster than a communion host in a guilty Catholic’s mouth.

Right. On to the grocery and liquor stores.

I secured them without mishap and headed home not feeling nearly as guilty as I should have, but the universe wasn’t quite done with me yet. As I pulled into my driveway, my headlights illuminated a carpet runner hanging from my upstairs neighbor’s balcony, which, by the way, had been greeting me all week. This time there were also three additional piles of throw rugs clustered around my front door.

Serenity now!

You see, the laundry situation started this summer. Laundry was hung out on the balcony nearly every day, all summer long. Just on the railings, mind you, not on a clothes line or racks which would actually keep them, you know, near your house. So all summer long I pulled into my driveway to see various towels, socks, jeans, men’s underwear (yes, lucky me) on the ground huddled around my door as if they were trying to escape the neighbors. I can’t say I blame them. I came face-to-face with one of the glassy-eyed residents of Laundry Fetish Central and realized I wasn’t dealing with your garden variety annoying neighbor. She came out on the stoop, looked around blankly, and then stared at me as I retrieved my mail. She didn’t speak.

“Yes?” I asked.

“Oh. I thought you were the visiting nurse,” she answered slowly, even though there were no cars anywhere in sight on the street. No cars except for my car. In the driveway. Where I park it. Every day.

Then as I was walking to my door with mail in hand, she swiveled her head slowly to the mailboxes. “Oh, did the mail come?” So many ways to answer that, but I decided walking away was best. Not that she even noticed.

All summer I was tempted to leave the laundry where it fell, but they seemed to forget it was out there, and, anyway,was the one who would look like white trash with laundry peppering my walkway. So sometimes I threw it back up on their deck, and sometimes I hung it on the railing to their front door. Neither way stemmed the laundry tide.

I figured I just needed to hang on until the weather got cold, but they just seemed to shift from clothes to rugs. The long one in the picture above has been there all week and has been rained on twice. As much as I try to imagine it is a royal banner to welcome me home to my castle after a day out riding on a beautiful steed (serenity now!), I can’t quite get past the big stain and the 80s colors. My friends and I have been trying to figure out what’s really going on. Is this really a laundry fetish or something else? Do they “take in laundry” like a depression-era housewife trying to make ends meet? Is that even a thing anymore, “taking in laundry”? This summer I did see one guy in front of the house taking laundry from the house and then folding it in his car. Is it a drug-induced obsession or are drugs so cheap you can use them to pay for laundry? Is it a literal laundering scheme, like they distribute drugs in pockets of cleaned and folded pants and shirts? Dang, I should have checked those pockets this summer.

Because we watch too much TV, we were convinced we were on to some novel trend of people on drugs doing laundry for nefarious purposes, so I Googled “drugs and laundry.” But as you’d expect, the references were primarily more of the pedestrian metaphor variety. What a disappointment. Still we think there’s more to this than a laundry fetish. I mean, who does that much laundry without a dryer?

Or it could be just the universe messing with me and poking me like the Annoying Orange–Hey! How about some work stress? Hey! How about a friend canceling? Hey! How about some more freakish laundry? Higher Self finally showed up and joined me in the car, and as I stared at new piles around my door, I realized the only thing I could do was laugh–heartily at myself.

As stressful as my week at work was, it was because the actual work seemed to pile up. It was not like that job I had a number of years ago when I worked for a woman we referred to as the dementor. I will see my friend again at some point and laugh, and as weird as Laundry Fetish Central is, I’ve had worse neighbors.

Plus, it’s bound to snow soon, and then the rugs will get covered up like a real laundering scheme. Now that’s some serenity.


Jesus Christ, Superstar? Part 2

Last week, I wrote about my love/obsession with the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (JCS), and this week is about my adventures skulking about the Boston area in search of productions. It’s performs infrequently—my fellow obsessed JCS fan Lora and I have only seen four productions in the past 15 years. There was a big tease last year when John Lydon (of Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd fame) announced he was going to play Herod. That was as close to feeling religiously saved as I’ve ever come—my favorite punk singer in my favorite rock opera. But then he got sick and had to cancel, and it seems the whole project went circling down the drain. So while I continue to stalk Lydon on Twitter, pepper him with JCS related tweets, and hope for the best, the only other thing I can do is relive the memories of the previous productions to sustain me. Which is truly unfortunate.

The JCS journey starts with that black vinyl record of the original Broadway cast perfection: double album, paper sleeves with the lyrics printed on them, housed in a slim, but sturdy brown cardboard casing that back in the day made it stand out in the record cabinet among its slimmer brethren. Lora and I have since replaced it with the CD version. No matter what the source, that sweet singing perfection is the same, and I’m starting to think that may be our downfall. Humans have been able to sing these parts before, why can’t they again? But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Being a JCS groupie requires patience and stamina, and Lora and I have honed both. We have to scan all the theatre outlets regularly for JCS productions—they can show up anywhere, from community theater to Broadway. The net must be cast wide. Once JCS is detected, we contact each other immediately to clear calendars and get tickets. Our excitement builds as we anticipate the production and do a full listen of the CD, and quoting lines to each other begins in earnest.

Our first production was probably about 15 years ago at the Turtle Lane Playhouse in Newton. Having only the music in our heads to compare to, we were full of bright hope and anticipation. While we are devoted, we don’t expect perfection, and when Judas appeared in a leather jacket, we were cool with that. In fact it seemed rather promising. JCS is written to make sense in any time, so that was OK.

And then Judas began to sing.

A big Broadway-wannabe sound that strained the acoustics of the small community theater. Lora and I shot each other look, slightly panicked. We each took a deep breath, it was going to be OK. His voice was good after all, so that was something, and he was alone on stage, so maybe he was just starting out with too much nervous energy and he’d settle down. Maybe the leather coat was egging on the Elvis in him. We pushed back our seats a bit and sang along in our heads. And waited. The next scene involves most of the cast—the disciples, Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Judas—and the voices were pretty decent standard community theater—Jesus was a little low on superstar wattage, but maybe he’d get better.

And then Judas sang.

A big Broadway-wannabe sound that blew all the other people off the stage. You could almost see them holding up their arms against him as if they were fending off a gale force wind. Lora and I looked at each other, now with a kind of despair settling in. And so it went. A not-so-superstar Jesus limping through his songs, Judas showboating all the other actors off the stage. I’m not kidding, in one scene he pranced across the stage and nearly knocked some the cast out of his way, like a demented version of Chorus Line.

And so began our tradition of going out after a production to deconstruct, console ourselves, and recover from a JCS production.

We had to wait a number of long years for our next opportunity, and the time did facilitate the healing process. We were so excited when JCS popped again as a professional production at the Wang Theatre in Boston. Yes! This would be the one to bring alive our beloved music. We listened to the CD, quoted lines, and let the anticipation build. And we think it was actually pretty good. Why aren’t we quite sure, you may ask? Well, in addition to being seated in the nosebleed section of the Wang, we were also seated near a disheveled woman with a large bag of loud snacks. There weren’t that many other people around us, so there wasn’t much a buffer. In between digging into her bag constantly and pulling out snack bags and crinkling them open, she sang all the songs even more loudly and obnoxiously than Lora and I do. We honestly didn’t know that was possible. After the intermission, we moved down a few rows to try to salvage the second half, which has our favorite Jesus/Pilate interchange about the Truth. But it was no use. Like the guilt Judas couldn’t shed, the Loud Singing Crinkly Bag Snacker dogged us the entire time, moving around to sit behind us, then on the side, over here, over there. Before we knew it the terrible sound of nailing Jesus to the cross was emanating from the stage. It was done and into her hands we commended our attention. At least she, also a clearly devoted fan, had a good time.

A few years later JCS came to Broadway. We were tempted, and maybe it was a mistake to miss it, but we were too afraid to spend all that money to see a professional version of the bigger-than-life Judas and smaller-than-life Jesus. Plus we’d be too far away from the comforts of home and family if it turned bad. Seeing JCS takes planning and foresight. And if they messed up the Pilate and Jesus scene, we might jump up to show them how it should be done, and getting arrested in NYC is something I try to avoid. So we passed on that one.

Another long drought led us to a production a few years ago at the Umbrella Community Arts Center in Concord. The long time between productions helps hope spring anew that this time will be different.

Alas, it was not to be.

Being more hardened now to the realities of how difficult a musical this is to pull off, we managed to get through the first half without too many panicked glances. True there was some subtle elbow jabbing at the now familiar overacting Judas and the Jesus who was more milquetoast that messiah. But if the Pilate and Jesus scenes were even half good, we’d be willing to forgive a stage full of sins. But the second half brought more misery, including a gratuitously violent scene where Judas committed suicide by putting a gun to his head. Right onstage and we saw him collapse. We’d hardly recovered from that poor direction choice when we were assaulted with something even more ghastly—post gunshot, Judas came out to sing the finale in shorts. Gold lamé to be exact. And his prancing about in said shorts put the Turtle Lane Playhouse Judas to shame. Believe me, you can’t unsee that. I can’t even go into the additional excessive violence that went into scene where they nail Jesus to the cross. The only thing missing was squirting us with fake blood when the nail bit into his hand. That was a tough production to recover from. The beginning of healing took the whole ride back from Concord to Boston, many drinks at the bar, and a number of follow up support sessions.

So that brings us to a few weeks ago. Lora’s girlfriend Crista saw there was a production for JCS at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester and alerted us. She had also seen the Concord production on a different night, but she was smart enough to have left at the intermission. She’s more of a community theatre advocate than a strict JCS fan, so she obviously has more sense than we do. She was game to go again, and we were recovered enough, so we got tickets. Surely it couldn’t get any worse than gunshots and gold lamé? Right?….RIGHT?

Oh, dear Jesus Christ Superstar, so wrong, wrong, wrong. Older, wiser, but still ever hopeful, we went through our routine. I downloaded the album on my iPhone and listened to it on the way to work. Lora listened to her CD while cleaning her house. We three went to dinner before the show and talked about some nuances I’d discovered on this most recent rash of listening. And we were careful with our wishes. We get that it’s a difficult performance. We get Judas is always going the be over the top. Could we maybe just get a charismatic Jesus this time?

We weren’t careful enough.

We sat down and saw the scenery of the bombed out buildings of 9/11 and exchanged a full-on, three-way panicked look. It was going to be a long night. We haven’t yet quite recovered from this production, and poor Crista took the brunt, not having been exposed to a director’s questionable choices as long as we have. But suffice to say, that Jesus was more charismatic, and Judas melted into the background. Mary Magdalen was a played by a man, and like the 9/11 background, it wasn’t well incorporated, so it just felt exploitative and sensational. The one good thing was that we only had to suffer for an hour and a half. The actors flew through the songs and skipped the intermission. They didn’t come out for a curtain call–not even one. We were in by 8 pm and out at 9:30. Flat. I doubt they were trying to minimize the terrible creative choices, so the only other logical explanation is that they needed to catch a bus. The number 16 bus runs once an hour at that time of night and was due near the theatre at 9:40. I think they made it.

We weren’t so lucky. We stumbled into a bar shortly after, glassy eyed and forlorn. Crista was having trouble speaking, and Lora and I couldn’t stop enumerating all the tragic wrongs. It almost made us wish for lamé shorts. Almost. We’re still recovering.

But as I was looking at the JCS website for this blog, I saw that there is a tour going on in the UK this summer and fall. The original recording was mostly Brits. Maybe they could do it right again. What could possibly go wrong? How could it get any worse? It’s in Cornwall in October. The UK is so lovely in the fall…http://www.jesuschristsuperstar.com/uktour/


I’m Sexy (If Only in My Head)

You may recall my post featuring Blanche, who keeps me honest and told me to “Get back on the damn horse and ride.” Well, I’m still not ready to do that, not in a even semi-permanent sort of way, but I am thinking it would be nice to just, you know, chat up a decent guy once in a while. However, I’m long on thinking and prepping and short on action, so my first, hesitant step into this fresh hell was to go to Old Navy to look at cute dresses. Oh, I know, believe me, I’m the main reason Blanche drinks so much, and once I induced an eye roll in her that required medical attention.

But you have to understand, I’m not a girlie girl. I don’t wear makeup, I don’t own one of those bag things many women carry around their girlie stuff in, I prefer jeans and plain tee-shirts, and lean toward black chunky shoes because I get to have comfort disguised as cool (perhaps only disguised to me). I own work dresses but only because pants are too hot and I don’t have to wear hose. So, for the record, me skulking around Old Navy for a dress is a BIG DEAL. I admit I kind of got caught up in the girliness of it all, and bought not one, but two dresses. One is a little black number that I have absolutely no use for and no place to wear, but my understanding is that this is the bedrock of girlie shopping. It may play into my scheme to sit in a nice bar to chat up all the decent guys who would most certainly be drawn to the dress like squirrels to an acorn. (Oops, I just made Blanche choke on a beer nut). The second dress is cotton and is a long sundressy kind of thing, and I have so little experience with this, I don’t even know how to describe the style. Here’s a picture.

photo (7)

It’s sort of a crossover, wrap around, which I usually avoid because 1) when it wraps all the way on the bottom, the women I see wearing them are constantly having to hold on to the bottom lest they end up flashing the world and I’m much too lazy to do that, and 2) when I was younger, I didn’t have the boobage to carry something like that off. But this dress was only wrapped at the top and since having a kid, I’m almost average size, so I thought what the heck? It looked pretty darn cute, if I may say so myself, and so I bought both and had exactly three minutes of giddiness until I remembered, oh yeah, girlie is a harsh mistress: you can’t just buy a dress. The dress needs other stuff like a necklace and shoes, perhaps even a scarf and other things I don’t even know about. I mentally scanned my belongings and thought I could scrape up everything but the damn shoes. My choices were Merrell sandals and girlie sandals the wrong color from a dress and event long ago. Crap. Despite these reminders of why I’m not a girlie girl, I attacked the shoe store like a Navy SEAL. Sweating and gasping, I got a pair of black sandals, even though there is no black in the crossover dress. (Blanche is sighing and ordering another shot.)

With the summer dress burning a hole in my closet, I decided to kill three birds with one stone: celebrate city life and the end of summer, debut the dress, and practice being cute in public. I put on my costume, complete with the new sandals, a black chunky necklace and earrings I’d bought once for a fancy work dinner, a bracelet-watch, and rings. I gathered a small group of friends to meet me at an outdoor hotel bar in the afternoon, so we could enjoy the weather, sip cocktails, and look like those people in the outdoor furniture section of a Crate and Barrel catalogue. I was well into enjoying being a person who had no piles of laundry at home or a teenager to corral, chatting and laughing, when one of my friends pointed at me and asked,

“Um, what’s going on there?”

I looked down to discover with horrifying certainty that my boobs were only big enough to hold the dress up while I was standing. Sitting on the Crate and Barrel couch, not so much. Despite being manhandled by my strapless bra, one boob was half popping out of the now slackened wrap around/crossover, which clearly is not the right name for this style because that dress was doing neither of those things.

We all laughed while I scooped up my dignity and my boob and then I spent the rest of the time checking and plucking the dress from the back and sitting on it so it wouldn’t gap. But that’s what dry runs and fun friends are for, right? Just as I was starting to feel cute again, in spite of having to sit ramrod straight to keep my dress in place, I glanced down and spied a small chain poking out of the side of my dress near my boob. Like a tawdry stripper/magician act in Vegas, I tugged on the chain and slowly pulled out my necklace from the side of my dress. Bless any of you who are blaming a broken clasp—I promise not to take my lukewarm mess to any public venues near you. No, I hadn’t actually caught the clasp in a link, just around the chain, so it slid up to the last larger link. There it sat precariously until my boob shenanigans had undone the thing. Ooooh, yeah, I’m a real catch.

We all had another round of belly laughs as I struggled to re-latch the necklace and keep my boobs covered. As I headed home, I had flashbacks of similar results in my attempts to be cool/cute/sexy in my 20s. It wasn’t pretty.

  • Trying to kiss a guy on a first date and practically knocking his teeth out with my inexperienced eagerness.
  • The time, after a bad break up, I went to the dance club determined to go home with someone, and even the last dance desperadoes fled from my female version of the “What is love?” SNL guys.
  • The time a guy was putting the (not unwelcome) moves on me and I kept asking, “What are you doing?”

I should be asking myself the same thing. Well, to quote Blanche, I’m “getting back on the damn horse.”

“I’ll drink to that,” says Blanche as she takes a fortifying drag off her Marlboro. “But better make it a double.”

Why Do I Always Have to Be the Oldest One in the Room?

Remember that entry about how I had to go to the kids and divorce class and I was the oldest one there and most likely the only one there who recognized the video tapes as a form of media? Well, I should have predicted that it wasn’t going to be any different in the actual divorce court. My soon-to-be ex and I appeared on our appointed day, for the afternoon shift. The instructions said to come at 3 pm, which we did, but it was like waiting for the doors to open at a show—everyone was in the courtroom and there was a long line of people waiting to get checked in at a desk near the front. How did these people know to show up earlier? Had they done this before? There was a court session from 9 am to 3 pm, so I had figured there was no point in coming earlier—the court would have had people from the previous session in it. As we became the last people to get in the line, I hoped this wasn’t first come first served. I was grappling with that idea when I noticed the youthfulness of our fellow court mates. Then the judge began to call us forward two by two, like some sort of demented Noah’s ark. She confirmed—out loud—each couple’s marriage date and the date they last lived together. She made the two people state their names and affirm that they had read and agreed with the terms of their divorce, and then she pointed out any problems in the agreement. The marriage dates rang out—2009, 2011, 2007.

I looked around the room. No gray hair, not even any covered up with blonde dye. At 49, I have already been having some small anxieties about age, especially as it relates to my career. Boston is full of start-ups which is very exciting to think about as I contemplate my next job; however, a few informational interviews revealed there is hardly anyone over the age of 30 working at these places. I was starting to feel not just old, but worse, irrelevant. I was still struggling with this new information, so I was not happy to also have to face it in my personal life. Here I was awash in young people who clearly had thought marriage was something else, or maybe they had mistaken the wedding for marriage, or maybe the statistic I read was true—that 30 percent of people who get married know before the wedding they are marrying the wrong person and do it anyway. As I did with the children and divorce class, I wanted to jump up and tell them to get back in the ring—did they think life was a fairy tale and there was a happily ever after? 2005, 2008. Finally there was a couple who got married in 2002—she wasn’t my age, but closer than the rest. I wanted to run over to her and kiss her, but I don’t think the stern looking court officer would have approved. And just as I was calming down, I heard, “Married October 2012, stopped living together April 2013.” Whaaat? What this some kind of Vegas wedding? They looked younger than 20. I wanted to punch them both. Then I wished every person in this country who claims that gay marriage degrades a “time-honored institution,” would sit in divorce court for 10 minutes. We straight couples were doing a pretty good job of destroying the institution ourselves. The judge called us up. “Married in 1991, stopped living together in 2011.” I wanted to answer with a championship game-winning fist pump—THAT’S how it’s done, people—but I think courts frown on that sort of thing. I wonder if it would work at one of those no-one-over-the-age-of-30 tech startups?

Photo credit: The Guardian

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I do have a serious streak, and recent world events have dragged it out into the light. While I’m very relieved about the truce in Gaza, the Ferguson, MO conflict still weighs heavily on my mind. I had been thinking about it when my best friend from college Sonia posted on my Facebook page, “Thinking about Ferguson and race relations…I think it’s time for our Ebony and Ivory duet again! What do you think?”

“Yes!” I replied. I’d been thinking the same thing. I’d been thinking about how although she was black and I was white, we had, in that magical college time, become best friends and crossed the color lines. The duet by Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney was on the charts at the time and we use to sing it, as a gag. I think a lot about how lucky I am to have met her in those circumstances where you are primed to delve deep into everything. And we delved deep into each other’s cultures. Although I’d say I was the one who had the steeper learning curve. Black people by default already know about and have to negotiate white culture every day. I was an invited guest into Sonia’s culture, and I had more to learn and gain; she was patient with my questions.

And that’s the thing I keep coming back to. Is it possible to replicate our experience? There is this great divide between blacks and whites, but as a white person, you can’t just go up to a black person and say, “Hey, tell me about being black!” For the most part, I think black people get tired of having to explain themselves to white people, and they shouldn’t have to. Class is also involved, and is trickier, because as much as we don’t like to talk about race, we really don’t like to talk about class–that “anyone can make it in America” thing gets in the way. If we want to improve black/white relations, we have to start with groups in the same class, and preferably they have something in common outside of both spheres. For me and Sonia, we both loved the same kind of music, U2 in particular, but good old rock too. That’s how we met; she heard U2 crooning from my room, walked in, and started thumbing through my fairly decent album collection. The rest is history. So, in honor of that fortunate day in my life, I am reposting the opening of an essay I wrote about our relationship in the Fall/Winter 2009, issue of the Newport Review. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think, white folks, the onus is on us to get better acquainted with black culture. Once we’re better informed, we can knock on the door, and politely ask to come in.

Oh, and one random note, I call her Samantha in the essay–I used to have a thing about using real names in online publications, as if 1) any one was actually reading my stuff and 2) the one person who was would be a crackpot and hunt the named person down. Blogging helped cure that.

The Color of Vinyl

“Hey, black girl. What are you looking at?” I challenged.

“You got a problem, white girl?” she shot back.

We glared at each other. The air in the elevator was still, tomb-like. The two other people in the elevator shifted nervously. Neither one was close enough to the panel to push a lower floor number.

I struggled to keep control. In their darting peripheral vision, the two other riders could see our eyes locked together. I noted the ding of the bell as the floors dropped away from us – 9, 10, 11. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw floor number 13 light up. The elevator slowed. I timed my response. “Maybe I do.” As the door slid open, one of the riders flinched and I lunged to the lobby floor. She flung herself after me. I heard a gasp from the elevator, and could no longer contain myself. We both burst into laughter as the door closed on the terrified, confused riders.

Read the rest of the essay here.

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
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!

The Registry of Forgotten Statistics

The week I realized my ex and I were pretty much over each other was the week I had to get a copy of our marriage certificate. It’s required in order to get a divorce, which I find pretty funny. Is the state trying to prevent people from falsely filing for divorce? “You know, we never got legally married, but let’s put one over on the state and file for divorce. Those nice lawyers and mediators need our savings, the courts could use the fees, and I just love to have strangers comb through every single personal and financial document I have. What a great prank!”

I had just moved and culled my possessions, so I knew what I had and didn’t have, and I didn’t have the certificate. My ex didn’t either. But it was more than that. You know when you’re trying to find something important but rarely used, you can picture in your mind the three likely places you put such things. Or, you have a memory of putting it somewhere and thinking “It will be safe here,” and that starts your search. I stopped and thought. It should have been with the birth certificates and passports, but it wasn’t.  I thought and thought. Nothing. My mind was like a deserted Western town, with tumble weeds rolling by in the wind. It was weird. Now I know it’s been 20 years and maybe it’s my mid-life brain or maybe it was the universe playing a good joke, but either way, I couldn’t even conjure up a fake memory of what the hell happened to that thing. So I was off to the state website for the Registry of Vital Statistics to go about getting a replacement. I just hoped it’ wasn’t like when you get a replacement drivers license and all the bouncers look at it for a really long time before letting you in. (OK, it’s been 20 years since a bouncer did that, but still it’s embarrassing.) I imagine the judge will examine it closely, then pierce us with an over-the-half-glasses stare, “Are you sure this is real?” “Aw shucks, you got us! We’re just messin’ with ya!”

So the website tells me I can pay $75 to have it mailed, faxed, or emailed, or come in person and pay $20. This makes no sense in the business world, but apparently makes complete sense for civil service. Maybe our civilization would absolutely break down if we weren’t forced to wait in long lines to get government documents. I shudder at the thought. But for those of you who miss face-to-face customer service and don’t like it when a business encourages you to email or sort through a help forum before calling, I suggest you go right down to the Registry of Vital Statistics and order up all your certificates and have a great time. I prefer societal breakdown and email.

I resigned myself to going, but comforted myself with the fact that at least it must be in Boston proper, right? Maybe next to another registry, like the Registry of Motor Vehicles, or next to the courthouse. Ohhhhh nooooooo. That would never do. It’s actually in an out-of-the way place that is the farthest it can be from downtown and still be considered within Boston’s borders. A friend suggested the location protects the vital records in case Boston gets invaded. I think a black market identity selling scheme is more likely. After all, this is the place that has volumes of musty books recording the births, deaths, and marriages of Boston’s citizens since the 1600s—this is the identity mother load. Although I guess having a fake ID with the name Jedediah Cobbler would probably raise awkward questions sooner or later.

So, off I went to get a fake ID, I mean my vital statistic, and a mere two train rides and long walk later, I arrived. And my first task, of course, was to fill out a form. I wrote our names, place of marriage, and then got stuck on the date. Just like when I was trying to place the certificate at home, the tumble weeds were rolling again. The swinging door to the saloon banged in the wind. I had the date engraved in my wedding ring, but I stopped wearing it. I knew the month and year, but it took a full minute to conjure up the day, and I only managed that because I actually looked at that month on my phone and seeing the number triggered my memory.

I handed over the money, got my certificate, and secretly wondered if they could tell I needed it to get divorced. I headed back to work via a long walk and two train rides and was not at my desk for more than 10 minutes when my ex called. He was filling out some preliminary separation paperwork and couldn’t remember my birthday. Like me and the marriage certificate, he’d remembered the year and the month, but couldn’t place the day. I told him, and when I got off the phone, I just started to laugh. We were clearly both moving on, letting go of our now non-vital statistics. I should have charged him $75 for the phone call.

Photo Credit: Raging Fluff blog