Tuesday, June 11, 2013

a sexy oven and distracted driving

I am a bit famous in my family for my issues with song lyrics.

When Jonathan and I first met, we sang our hearts out together at a karaoke a cappella gig...yes, we were really cool...to Peter Gabriel's Secret World.  Jonathan likes to tell the part of the story when I belted out: Underwater, Underwear...

It's true.  Underwater, Unaware made more sense.

During my senior year of college, standing next to Jonathan in the back row of risers in our college's concert choir...yes, we were really that cool...we performed an entire concert in Spanish, our guest conductor having an expertise in Spanish music.  Given that I was a bit stretched for time that month, what with my a cappella responsibilties, my senior thesis being due, my computer crashing compounded by my failure-to-save-often habits, as well as my rockin' social life and my inability to learn a second language of any variety, I did not know many of the words to the pieces we were singing.  If I had known the lyrics, I would certainly not have been able to pronounce them well.  I was in quite a pickle.

But a similarly stretched thin friend turned to me in the dining hall one day and said while discussing our plight: You know what I do?  I just list all the Spanish and Mexican food I know.  I don't think you can tell.

And that is what I did.  I am still a bit guilt ridden over it. I enchilladed, tapased, tacoed, tortillaed, chimchangaed, empanadaed, and gorditoed my way through that spring's concert.  Well pitched, but lyrically flawed.

* * *

I drive the kids to and from school each day.  We listen to a lot of audio books in the car, but these school trips only take about six minutes, so we often turn on the radio and search about to find appropriate lyrics for all three kids, avoiding news reports and adult banter.  Our preferences do not often match.  Sometimes I have rules that we can listen to my radio station or none at all... We can sit in sad silence, I offer.

But sometimes I give in to their desire to listen to really bad pop music, my finger hovering over the power button should a song's lyrics take a dark turn.  One morning last week was one of those days.

We were cruising down the busy road, careening toward school, all four of us belting out a certain song.  None of us really knew the words to this one, but we had heard it before and we were singing along with a two second delay, like the Saturday Night Live skit with the chorus teachers.

A line floated past my ears for the third time during the song.  Without really thinking about the little ears in the back seat I said, did she just say sexy oven?  Cuz that's what it sounds like.  And that doesn't really make any sense.

As an aside, I have a new oven.  It replaced an old oven I was trying to work with for some time, one that was missing a part in the door so that you could see directly into the interior of the oven when the door was closed and therefore waves of heat wafted out into the room whenever you used it.  It also managed on a regular basis to both burn the outside of my ciabatta and leave the inside raw.  Given my fondness for bread whisperer Peter Reinhart, my ciabatta is a two day process, involving folding and turning and fiddling and refrigerator fermenting...one does not burn two day process bread.  So we have a replacement oven now.  And given that it works...I do find it a bit sexy.  But I was pretty sure that this song was not about my oven.

Nicholas snickered in reaction to my question and I checked eyeballs in the rear view mirror, having just realized this was probably one of those moments I should have said it in my head and not aloud.  This happens a lot.  Julia's eyes were huge and bemused.  Elliott was pouting and not listening, still mad that we were not listening to the second CD of Narnia's The Dawn Treader for the 15th time.

Nicholas listened carefully as this phrase rolled around again in the song and said, yeah, that's what it sounds like.

Julia, always wanting to disagree said, no, I think it says I'm living in socks and fancy pants.

Well.  That's another possibility....

We pulled into our parking spot, the car doors opened, and we spilled out, Nicholas singing these new lyrics at the top of his lungs.

I whisper shouted Whoa!  No!  I am sure that is wrong.  And plus, you can't say that.  It's not at all appropriate.

Nicholas leaned in for a kiss on the head, which was acceptable to him because he was hidden behind the car.  We pulled our backpacks out, and he danced up the street ahead of us toward school.   I could almost see the sexy oven images in thought bubbles above his shimmying head as he said hello to the crossing guard/head of school and disappeared into the building.


I picked up Nicholas and Julia from school that afternoon in the drive-through pick up line, Elliott sitting in the backseat listening to an audio book, drawing pictures of animals on post-its.

Nicholas and Julia hopped in and our daily drive-through pick up line scramble ensued.  It is a messy chaotic routine during which I am expected to quickly, efficiently, and carefully drive away once the children have been passed to me in the car by their teachers.  As parents pull away, we encounter a crosswalk about 15 feet from where we launch, one I must attend to because I really think it would be bad form to run down the school librarian, tasked with holding up the stop sign, or one of the kids' friends.

While I was paying attention to all of this, I was also attending to the frenzy inside.  Elliott was getting bumped by his new bench mates and becoming grumpy.  He was shushing everyone because he did not want to miss any part of the audio book and I had forgotten to turn it off before the door opened and let in this mess.

Julia was turned around backward, bottom on the hump between the front two bucket seats, silently asking me to take her backpack off her back and throw it toward the passenger seat so she could turn, sit, and clip on her seat belt.

And Nicholas?  Well, he launched in as he always does, almost as if he starts before actually entering the car, narrating a full report of most of what happened during the day.

That day it began this way...though seven hours had elapsed between the morning's conversation and then:

So, I found out what the right words are to that song.  Some girls were singing it and I listened closely to hear what they were saying.

Did you tell them what I thought they were?  As I probed for whether he had outed me, inserting myself into his story, his day, I know...I am soooo not a good mommy.

No!  That would be so embarrassing.  I just told them I thought the words were something else.  

So what are they?  Julia piped in.  Her bottoms were to bottoms and her backs were to backs now (a little school bus rhyme from their preschool days of first field trip rides).

I'm living on such sweet nothing.

Oh.  That makes much more sense, I said.

Mommy?  What is a sweet nothing? asked Elliott.

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