‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy

15 Apr

by Roger White

For this installment to make any sense to you, my fellow life travelers, it will behoove you to be of a certain age range—namely, somewhat old to pretty darn old. It will also be of great benefit to your reading comprehension and pleasure if you are listeners of a particular genre of music—i.e., rock and roll that also ranges from somewhat old to pretty darn old.

Let’s put the bandwidth at somewhere grayer than The Cars but not so geriatric as Jerry Lee Lewis. Give or take. So if you don’t currently fit these parameters, I will wait to write the rest of this column until you comply. You have 20 minutes.

Oh, forget it. I got stuff to do. Please continue.

You see, it occurred to me the other day, as I tried with scant success to decipher the words to one of the endless string of hippity-hop rapster tunes my daughters devote their entire afternoons to (see previous column entitled…well, heck, see all previous columns), what wondrous adaptive mechanisms our brains are. If we can’t make out the lyrics to a song we listen to over and over (sometimes under duress), our minds create lyrics for us—and even a backstory to go with those faux lyrics—so we can make sense of what we’re hearing and thus not go entirely insane.

Specifically, I was driving home from a genuinely miserable day at the cube. The radio was still in daughter mode, so when I turned it on, Katy Perry was asking plaintively, “Baby, are you tired of work?” You know it, sister, I replied. Understand that I recognized the singer only because I have been taken to task several times for not knowing who Katy Perry is or realizing her great significance to Western civilization. My daughters truly believe it is my life’s goal to embarrass the bejeezus out of both of them.

So anyway, I got home and relayed with a smidgen of pride to my girls how I related to Ms. Perry’s song. I got the exaggerated eye roll and the pitiful head shake, in unison. “Dad, you are such a goober. She’s saying, ‘Baby, you’re a firework.’”

Oh. Well. It was then I hopped into my lemon-yellow time machine and found myself back in my senior year in high school, working at that tiny self-serve gas station, stacking cans of Havoline in the back. It was 1976, and the cheap box of a radio in the next room was playing the new song by The Eagles, hot off the presses. What follows I must say in my defense transpired mainly because I couldn’t hear that darn radio very well. Did I mention the radio was cheap, and small? Anyway:

Catchy tune, I thought as I strained to listen, and what a unique way to give vent to how things can get so messed up at times:

“Flies in the Vaseline,

Surely make you lose your mind,

Flies in the Vaseline, uh huh…”

I could identify with that. I asked my friend the next day if he’d heard the song. “Neat,” I said, “because it’s true, ya know. Sometimes it feels like there’s just a bunch of flies in your Vaseline. Everything going all wrong.”

My buddy’s face morphed from utter confusion to complete hysterics when it dawned on him that I was talking about “Life in the Fast Lane.”

Just so you’ll know I’m not the only goober in the family (and so I can shine the warm lights of shame on my wife, as well), when I divulged my dark secret some years ago to my lovely spouse, Sue, she laid on me a beauty of a “lyric lapse” of her own. Now, here’s where you may look at me like a medicated cow if you haven’t heard the song.

My dear Sue actually thought that in the song “Peace of Mind” by Boston, where the chorus goes thusly:

            “I understand about indecision,

            But I don’t care if I get behind…”

…that it went like this:

            “I understand about indecision,

            But I’m not scared of the FBI…”

I thought for a while there that she was just saying this to ease my discomfort, but no, you can’t make this stuff up. We surely all have our own versions of tunes, the most classic being, of course, “’Scuse me while I kiss this guy…” I bet Jimi never knew how many people through the years would be pondering his lifestyle choices because of that one line. And, yes, CCR will always and forever be accused of some sort of scatological preoccupation for directing us to the “bathroom on the right.”

There are dozens, probably hundreds of others. There are even books and web sites devoted to this phenomenon. But you can’t really worry about it. It happens to everyone, I guess. You have to just let the water run off your back, like Van Morrison says:

            “Hey, wet amigo!

            Dazed when the rains came…”

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat daschund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

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4 Responses to “‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy”

  1. Rita April 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    Once again I am entertained ….and left to ponder my own experiences of long ago.
    Thanks for sharing, Roger.

  2. allthingsboys April 15, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    I so love your humor. Thanks for making me laugh in my late fourties with a house full of teenagers! It’s a priceless gift.

    • coffee yogurt April 21, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

      And then there’s my own personal favorite. I had no doubt that Pink Floyd was singing, “After come, comfortably numb.” And I thought that up until about three years ago.

      • sandy April 21, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

        Husband just informed me he always thought Marshall Tucker was singing, “Purty little love song” not “Heard it in a love song.” And I just now replied, “That’s not what is says?”

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