Wallowing in Their Own Filth

Can someone explain to me the aversion children have for cleanliness? It seems that my children are not just oblivious to dirt, but actually actively dislike the concept of cleaning, be it themselves, spaces, or inanimate objects.

When I was a child, I don’t recall being particularly violently opposed to the habits of personal hygiene. I didn’t squawk about baths, and my parents didn’t have to threaten me with dire consequences to get me to brush my teeth. Or, you know, shit, maybe they did and I just don’t remember it. I do remember my father monitoring my tooth brushing a few times, but in my mind it was more of a tutorial than strong arming me into doing it.

My children, however, actively protest any behavior that relates to keeping them even moderately sanitary. If they had it their way, they would stink, be filthy, and have rotting cadaver breath. They would wear the same clothes for days on end, and in their bedrooms it would appear as though we had chosen a product called “sweat pants and cartoon character shirts” as a floor covering.

Two of them will willingly take a bath as long as I a) let them in the tub together, b) let them use my “big” (soaking) bathtub and c) provide them with 7-10 gallons of foaming soap each to spray on each other and themselves (my daughter spends the entire time in the tub insisting, "I'm ELSA" and making Olaf out of the foam. Oh Frozen, will you never release your grip?). The other two I practically have to physically drag into the shower and hold there until the water washes away the fumes and my eyes stop tearing. Of course these are the two who are the most fragrant if they don’t bathe for a day.

Part of the reason they get so ripe is because they have favorite clothes that they’re loathe to remove from their person. Like ever. The oldest has been known to sleep in his clothes (changing into pajamas is so exhausting, y’all). My daughter regularly changes her favorite shirt (by which I mean she reevaluates her options and picks a new one, not that she removes the old one and puts on a new one. God forbid) and will wear the new favorite for as many days as I will let her. The problem is knowing what shirt she has on. She wears a sweatshirt almost constantly, with a t-shirt under it. It’s the t-shirt she won’t change. Sometimes I just have to guess: “You’re wearing the same shirt you had on yesterday, aren’t you? Go change it.” Her slightly defiant look, and hundred and eighty degree turn to stomp back upstairs are generally the only indication that I was right.

Getting them to change their underwear is a special struggle. Sometimes I have to stand there and watch them remove the old ones and pull on the new ones. Based on their expressions and the huffing and sighing that goes on during the process, I can only assume that changing their underwear is only slightly less physically and emotionally traumatic than pulling off their eyelids and putting on new ones.

Tooth brushing is another despised activity in my household. I suppose when I was a kid I didn’t feel like I had hideous breath when I woke up. Little did I know I was probably dead wrong, or I was if my own children are any indication. They will go to the most phenomenal lengths to not brush their teeth. I’ll send them back two or three times to do it, and each time they’ll lie and say they have, and I’ll check their teeth and, hey kids, the same brown shit that was on your teeth five minutes ago is still on your teeth, you did not fucking brush your teeth. And then I have to send them back to brush them again and it would be so much simpler and less of a waste of time for ALL of us if they’d just fucking brush their teeth the first time I sent them do to it. And they’re just fucking around—it’s not that they don’t like the toothpaste or don’t know how to do it. For whatever reason, they just don’t want to use a bristled implement and a flavored paste or gel to scrub the foulness off of their various oral protrusions so they don’t have breath that smells like rotten meat rolled in poo.

And their fingernails. One of them regularly comes home from school looking as though the extracurricular activity for the day was harvesting potatoes. The kid has so much soil under his fingernails, that’s the only conclusion I can draw. And when I insist on scrubbing it out, you’d think I was torturing him the way he carries on. It’s ten times worse if I actually insist on trimming his nails at the same time. You remember that scene in “Gone With The Wind,” when Scarlett is standing in the doorway when the doctor has to amputate the guy’s leg and there’s no anesthesia? That guy could take lessons on expressing excruciating pain from my kid having his nails trimmed.

I’m wondering how long it will be before I can look at them and not know the exact contents of their most recent meal or snack. Anything chocolate or tomato-based is particularly inclined to give them away. I’m having a hard time convincing them that it’s ok to wipe your face with a paper napkin. They are not a priceless commodity, nor treasured heirlooms that need to be preserved. Just use the damned napkin.

As a reformed slob (and not always a successfully reformed one) I’m willing to give them a pass on their rooms, up to a point. They have to put all dirty clothes in the laundry room once a week, change their sheets, and pick up all the stuff on the floor, but I don't give them too much grief about the condition of their rooms generally. The only thing I did insist on was that when we got the dog I told them if they wanted the dog to be allowed upstairs, they would have to keep their rooms immaculate, because he would chew and/or eat anything that was on the floor. In a decision that proves they carry more than a fragment of my genetic material, they decided that was way too big a pain in the ass, and the dog just wouldn’t be allowed above the main level of the house. Which is fine with me because there’s no dog hair up there, and as it is on the main level, I sweep up enough hair every other day to make another dog. I can’t understand why this creature isn’t bald by now.

I suppose one day they’ll discover the opposite sex, and then I’ll be sorry I wanted them so clean. They’ll lock themselves in the bathroom and take half hour long showers and I’ll have to listen to the fights about who’s been in the bathroom for how long and that they need to get out. I understand from friends with older kids that the boys will end up smelling like the entire Axe display. But I will say I won’t miss the constant struggle to get them to brush their teeth and change their underwear. The fact that these episodes always seem to happen in the morning is most unfortunate, because they are one of the main reasons that I drink. I think if I started drinking at 7:30 a.m., the neighbors would talk. More than they do now, I mean.

Wal-Mart: Lowering the Bar Low Since 1969

A little while ago Steph over at We Don't Chew Glass wrote about an experience she had at Wal-Mart. I go to Wal-Mart every week to do some of my grocery shopping, and her post reminded me of all the experiences (read: nightmares) I’d enjoyed (read: suffered through) at my own Wal-Mart.

I do about half my grocery shopping at Wal-Mart because I am cheap and have four children. I can’t justify paying 30% more (which is how much it is; I did the math) at another grocery store for crap like cereal bars and tortillas. So nonperishables and brand name products I get at Wal-Mart, and then I go to a local grocery store that has higher quality meats and produce.

But saving 30% doesn’t come without a sacrifice. Someday my children will understand what I endured so we could save money on Fritos and yogurt and afford to buy them shoes, take them to Disneyland, and invest our retirement savings in Pokemon cards and Beyblades. And they will listen to my tale, and no doubt they will do what children all over the world always do when faced with the story of the suffering their parents have undergone on their behalf: they’ll roll their eyes and say, “Yeah, so?”

The most important thing about my Wal-Mart is that as far as I can tell, the people in it apparently have nothing better to do than to be there. The way they meander up and down the aisles, stopping to read the labels on the shower curtains, the Miss Clairol hair color, the Cup o’ Noodles. Stopping, I might add, in the middle of the goddamned aisle. Completely oblivious to the fact that there’s anyone else in the store with them.

When this happens—the twenty thousand times that it happens every time I go there—I say, “Excuse me” and almost inevitably the idiot kind of starts, like he or she is stunned to realize that there’s someone who might want to go down the same aisle they’re on. I give them a small smile, which I presume they interpret as “That’s OK. Have a nice day!” but which really means, “Get the fuck out of my way, you asshole. Some of us have better things to do than hang out in a goddamned Wal-Mart all day.” I actually don’t give a shit if they interpret it exactly as I intend it.

What is it about Wal-Mart that all over the country it attracts the same kind of people? I saw a woman in there one day with a t-shirt on that said, “I used to be fucking stupid, but we broke up.” If that’s not class, I don’t know what is. A couple of weeks ago I saw a woman who quite clearly had the word “Nokia” tattooed across her chest (her boobs were not visible—the tattoo was located right below her collar bones, and she was wearing a tank top. Although I probably wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been across her boobs, and she had been walking around with no shirt on. Because I was at Wal-Mart, after all). She had the name of a cell phone manufacturer tattooed across her chest? Who does that? And why? Another time there was a woman in front of me in line with a little girl. The little girl kept lifting her shirt up to her neck, exposing her chest. Her mother kept telling her not to do that, because, “We don’t show our tatas.” On the one hand, at least she was trying to instill some modesty in her daughter. On the other hand, our “tatas”? What if she’d been lifting her skirt? Would the admonition have been, “We don’t show our hoohas”?

The employees are no better. Every single time I’ve ever overheard anyone ask an employee for help finding something, they preface their response with, “Uh, I don’t usually work in this section.” Every. Single. Time. I actually once had this exchange with an employee:

Me: “Excuse me, where are the seeds?”
Employee: “I don’t know.”

This was not delivered as a tentative, slightly embarrassed, “I don’t know…” about to be followed up with, “but let me see if I can find someone who does,” or similar. This was “I don’t know” delivered as the first part of, “I don’t know; why the fuck are you asking me?” I was kind of surprised she didn’t say the whole thing. When I responded, “Seriously?” she quickly added, “I don’t usually work in this section.” (To which I replied, “Of course you don’t.”) Either the management of the store can’t seem to assign the staff consistently to the same section(s), or when they’re hired, they’re told, “Don’t bother learning where shit is. When someone asks you, just tell them you don’t normally work in this section. Works every time.”

Then there are four types of checkers at my Wal-Mart. Cranky, apparently mentally deficient, out on parole, and Asian women.

The queen of the cranky cashiers is Dolores. Customers, in her mind, are sent to her so she has someone new to share her problems with every three and a half minutes. And share she does. Except it’s not so much sharing as spewing vitriol (takes one to know one, as they say). The subjects of her complaints include: her lazy coworkers who “call out” because the weather is nice, the weather is bad, the weather is just like it always is here, or because they’re hung over, drunk, or on their way to being one or the other (or both); all the new businesses being built in the area around the Wal-Mart, and how they’re all fast food restaurants, mattress stores, or tanning salons, and how incredibly useless those things are (Sweetheart. It’s a Wal-Mart—what were you thinking they’d build nearby? A Neiman-Marcus? Saks Fifth Avenue?); how much her feet hurt; how much it bugs her when people buy any of the following: bedding plants (they make her “belt” dirty), big plastic storage totes (what the fuck else do you buy at Wal-Mart?), bras (hard to get them off the hanger), large electronics (heavy), and anything with a theft sensor on it that she’s supposed to deactivate (I have no idea why this matters—I have seen people walk through the theft detection panels with flat screen TVs that set the alarm off, and no one even looks twice at them, never mind a store employee stopping them and asking to see a valid receipt for the item). So Delores is a gem, and you can understand why when I see her on register 9, I quickly move on to register 14 to find someone (almost anyone) else.

The apparently mentally deficient cashiers all seem to be playing an unending game of, “Try to get one cold thing in every bag.” I get home and unload my groceries only to find that the two pints of ice cream, the heavy cream, the sour cream, the four cups of yogurt, and the buttermilk, are each in a different bag. Now, I am sufficiently OCD that I put all the cold stuff together when I pull it out of my cart. For them to get one cold thing in every single bag means they had to try. I am sympathetic to their challenges, but for the sake of my refrigerated products, I tend to avoid them as well.

The best choices for cashiers are the guys who are clearly out on parole, and the Asian women. Both are reasonably efficient, bag everything in the order it’s presented to them (thank you, cold groceries all in one or two bags) probably because they’re too lazy to bother doing it any other way, and they rarely say much beyond, “Hey, how are you today?” and, “Find everything you need?” Plus if something fails to scan, they’ll take you at your word for the price (“I’m sure that digital camera was on clearance for $2.99”) instead of trying to get someone to find out the real price for them.

I figure with my weekly trip to Wal-Mart I’m sort of eating away at my tenure in Hell for being a sarcastic asshole. Every 45 minutes I spend there is 45 minutes less that I have to spend in the real Hell after I die. Every fucking clueless idiot that I don’t backhand into the middle of next week for hogging up the whole aisle with her cart while she reads the instructions on a package of sponges  is one less fucking clueless idiot that I’ll have to encounter in the hereafter. At the rate of 45 minutes a week for the last three or so years, if I were to die tomorrow, I’d only have to spend eternity minus four month in Hell.  If I can just find a way to avoid Delores, it might be tolerable, since I’m pretty sure it won’t be unfamiliar.


My son came to me this morning with a tooth he’d lost. I flinched with revulsion and said, “Gross.”

Now, before you label me a bad mom (not that you’d necessarily be wrong), this was the 11 year old, and the tooth was one of his molars. Parents of younger children, know this now: tooth loss gets progressively less cute as they get older. I remember well those first few pearly little drops under my son’s pillow. The excitement with which he rushed to me to show me the dollar my husband had left in its place the night before. His anticipation of spending said dollar on yet another pack of fucking Pokemon cards.

I remember when I started losing teeth. And just as my children do, I recall clinging to them until they were just dangling by a single root and my parents were begging me to either pull the tooth out, or let them do the old tie-a-string-around-a-doorknob-and-tie-the-other-end-to-the-tooth-and-shut-the-door gimmick. As an adult, I honestly think that’s one of the grossest parts of tooth loss—the refusal to just have it over with and pop it out. The loose tooth finally gets so loose that it changes position regularly, and can end up at a 90 degree angle to the rest of the teeth, sticking straight out like something out one of those scare tactic pictures at the orthodontist’s office showing people with various dental deformities who did not heed the advice given them and failed to invest thousands of dollars in corrective devices. And it looks nasty.

Only one of my kids was ever brave enough to just have it over with. One of the twins had a really lose tooth that was turning my stomach on a regular basis, and finally one day my husband and I said, “Just pull it out—it’ll come right out.” So he said, “OK” and did it. He got two bucks for that one, and a note from the Tooth Fairy saying that anyone who was brave enough to pull out their own loose tooth (and save their mom a lot of gross out, although she didn’t mention that explicitly) got extra money for it.

We’ve only had a couple of tooth related crises. I’d have expected more with four kids all of whom have big mouths. The first one came when my oldest went over his bicycle handle bars after hitting a rock. He face planted onto a gravely patch and scraped his gums. I took him right to the dentist, who did xrays and assured us there was no damage to the permanent teeth (he still had his baby teeth). Unfortunately what we should have been concerned with was the swelling and bruising around his left thumb which, four days later, turned out to be a buckle fracture that required a cast for 3 weeks. You know I made a point of noting that one on my Mother of the Year award application.

The second incident concerned one of the twins, who was bouncing on the trampoline with his older brother. The twin’s mouth came in contact with the older brother’s head, and it appeared that it knocked one of the teeth loose. Because I am such a wonderful mother (see: broken thumb, four days) I had no recollection of who had lost which teeth (I mean, shit, they do have a ton of them between the four of them), and was convinced that this was an adult tooth. I tried to get him into the dentist, but couldn’t get an appointment until the next afternoon. With strict instructions not to wiggle it, and to eat only very soft foods, I sent him off to school. The next afternoon I was in a panic because the tooth was obviously looser than it had been. When I got him to the dentist, the hygienist looked at it and said, “I’m pretty sure that’s a baby tooth.” “Really?” I asked. “Pretty sure. Dr. Wilson can confirm it, but I’m pretty sure.” Um, oh. Ha ha.

It was.

Well, thank goodness, but I still felt pretty dumb.

The last one (to date) involved my daughter and my oldest son. They were horsing around, and to this day I have no idea what happened, but somehow he managed to knock out one of her front teeth, which was not already loose. Now, one good thing about loose teeth—they really don’t bleed much. Although the blood does taste bad (or did to me), it’s not a very lengthy experience. Rinse your mouth once or twice and you’re fine. Let me assure you that a tooth that gets knocked out, which is not supposed to come out shortly anyway, bleeds like a stuck fucking pig. It seems like it's waves of blood and while it does stop fairly quickly, while it’s happening you’re convinced that the person is going to need a transfusion if it keeps up. My daughter was fine, of course, but she did sort of look like a hockey player for a couple of months.

And I have to confess that almost everything about this process makes me faintly ill, but still I save all their teeth (all that I can—we’ve had a few that got swallowed when they came out. Ew). Why? Every parent I know has a little box of kids’ baby teeth somewhere. Or, in my case, multiple little boxes since I can never seem to find the box I put the previous lost tooth in. And the thing is, even if I had a gun to my head, I couldn’t tell you which teeth belonged to which kid (although I suppose I could make it up, because it's not like the guy with the gun to my head would know the difference). What am I going to do with them? Frame them? Mount them and wear them as earrings? Use them for DNA identification? And yet they come out, and I stick them in a box somewhere.

Although I must say, now that the oldest has started losing really big teeth, I think my days of saving his are over, because molars are seriously icky when they come out. They're so disgusting that it's tempting to skip putting money under their pillows and just give them five bucks to not show it to you in the first place. It's too bad: the big ones would probably make pretty impressive earrings.

I Love Not Camping

I have a series of well-worn rants about camping that anyone who knows me is familiar with (and probably sick of). It starts with, I hate camping. Hate, as my mother always said, is a very strong word. In this case, I would argue, it’s not strong enough.

I am not a good camper, and I don’t want to be. My idea of roughing it is a hotel that doesn’t have room service. If by “camping” you mean a weekend at the Four Seasons, including spa treatments and complimentary all-you-can-drink champagne, put my name at the top of the list. If “camping” involves any of the following: tents, woods, bears, insects, lanterns, portable stoves, outdoor fires, dirt, trees, pay showers or toilets (or, god forbid, peeing in the woods and not showering at all) or sleeping bags, then you go on without me.

My mother was not a camper, nor her parents before her. I suppose at some point in our family history there were people who were camping sorts, mostly because if you go far enough back in history, life itself basically was camping, but I’m sure given the choice, they would have said, “Fuck this shit,” and happily moved into a three bedroom, two bath rambler (I come from a very practical family). But that's one of the things I don’t get about camping. Human beings have spent thousands of years developing things like indoor plumbing, leave-in conditioner, and the automatic ice maker just so we wouldn’t have to live in crude tents with no air conditioning and warm wine. Why abandon all that our species has worked so hard to achieve and return to what they were clearly trying to get away from?

Perhaps I just miss what’s supposed to be fun about camping. I’ve done it, and in my experience it involves packing up everything you need to survive for a couple of days in your car, driving it out into the wilderness somewhere far away from the nearest Starbucks or liquor store, unpacking it all, setting it all up to make it “like home,” hanging out in the woods for a couple of days with wild animals and bugs (some of whom consider you a menu item), then packing everything back up in your car, driving it all home, unpacking it all, and washing it because everything that goes into the woods for more than three and a half minutes gets fucking filthy.

What about any of that is fun?

And when you do go out there, there are so many things that you leave behind that just can't accompany you. The dish washer. The hot water heater. The refrigerator. A real mattress. I don’t know about you, but those are pretty key components of my daily existence.

Some friends of ours recently decided to buy an RV. The husband and the three boys think there’s nothing more fun than executing the steps I describe above, while the wife is a bit more lukewarm about it, but she decided that maybe an RV would make it slightly more enjoyable (she is such a fucking optimist). We went with them to the RV show to look around. Every single one of them was decorated in shades of brown and mauve (the RVs, not the friends). It’s like the people who choose the finishes for RVs have an endless supply of materials (and taste) from 1975. So not only do you have to, like, camp, you have to camp with ugliness. I’m convinced that Hell is not a single fiery inferno, but more like a series of rooms with different horrific experiences from this earthly life, and you go from one to another, experiencing them all, for all eternity. The interior of an RV will be one of those rooms.

I have friends who actually own something called a “fifth wheel” (I’m not entirely clear what this is, and really don’t want to know; I just know it’s some damned camper thing). She maintains that they’re “not really” camping because they have a bedroom, bathroom, and full working kitchen. So I have to ask the obvious question, why fucking bother? When we went to the RV show, for the right price, there were RVs with televisions, fireplaces, separate bedrooms, and full bathrooms. If your “camper” is so much like a home that being in it is like not even leaving home, then don’t. Every year before the “camping season” begins, my friend has to take stock of this trailer/camper thing and make sure she has enough things like dish soap, toilet paper, wine glasses (this is a friend of mine, remember) etc for the trips they’ll take. So she’s basically replicated her home kitchen in this thing. And they have to own a big ass pick up truck to pull it. This is so much more bullshit than I’m willing to endure, all just to go hang out in the dirty, buggy woods, or on some windy beach someplace with a million sand flies for company. She assures me I would adore it. She has grossly misread the situation.

All of this distaste for the idea of camping stems from the fact that I am what you would call indoorsy. I love to enjoy the outdoors. From the indoors. Through the window. Nothing makes me happier than a beautiful spring or fall day sitting in my house with the windows or French doors (or both) open. I don’t like being outside. Outside there are bugs and shit. Inside there are not (and if they come in, I can squash them. And I do). This rabid desire people have to be out of doors is just beyond me. If God had intended us to be outside all the time, he wouldn’t have given us the heat pump. And if God had intended me to camp, he wouldn’t have given us the concept of not camping.

(The title of this post is taken from Anne Taintor. If you haven't ever seen her stuff, I assume you're new here on planet Earth, but by all means go look around. She's a hoot.)

The Musical Question

A bit more on the subject of music…

The other day I was listening to the 80s station on Pandora when the song “867-5309/Jenny” came on. I remembered hearing years ago that every time that song was played on a radio station back in the day, the people who had that phone number got dozens of calls from people calling to see if 1) it was a real phone number (which it was in some area codes, but not in all), and 2) there was a “Jenny” who answered it (not sure the outcome of this one).

With the advent of internet radio, I’m guessing the people who had that number have long since abandoned it because now that song must come into rotation thousands of times a day. Personally I think it would be hilarious to get a cell phone and request that number, then leave it permanently on voice mail with a message that said, “Hi. This is Jenny. Sorry, I changed my number. No recommendations on who you should turn to. Maybe try your imagination? Good luck!”

I crack myself up.

But I started to really think about the music we listened to. And I had no major philosophical revelations whatsoever. Probably because, let’s face it, a lot of it was complete drivel of one sort or another. “Everybody cut footloose”? What the hell does that even mean? “Every breath you take. Every move you make. Every bond you break. Every step you take. I’ll be watching you.”? Um, hello? Stalker? “Relax, don’t do it, when you want to go to it, relax don’t do it, when you want to come”? Is there a person alive who thinks this song is about anything other than sex?  (Hint: It is not about anything other than sex.) And do I even need to bring up “We Built This City”? A song that has been voted the Worst Song Ever Written (maybe more than once)? Of course it came smack out of the 80s.

For fun I looked up a list of the Billboard #1 hits from the 80s. Some of the early ones are by artists that, in my mind, are more 70s than 80s. KC and the Sunshine Band, Diana Ross, Olivia Newton John, Chicago. In some cases they also had hits later in the 80s of course, but to my mind they were “70s music.” Maybe because I had a babysitter who adored Chicago, and she was a child of the 70s, just as I was a child of the 80s. Therefore, anything my babysitter liked—Chicago, the Eagles, the Bee Gees—got tucked in the 70s file in my mind, along with the enormously wide ties belonging to my dad, the patchwork evening dress my mom had, and the fire hydrants painted like little men from the colonial era that my city did for the bicentennial celebration in 1976. It is not an original thought that decades “bleed,” and the first two or so years of any decade are really culturally more in step with the decade immediately preceding them.

It also seemed like there were an awful lot of hits that came from movie soundtracks. An Officer and a Gentleman, Purple Rain, Flashdance, Footloose, Ghostbusters, a couple of James Bond movies, St Elmo’s Fire, Dirty Dancing, Cocktail. And we should remember that any song featured in a John Hughes movie was an automatic hit. It’s possible the 90s had just as many movie-song hits, but the 80s just appears to have been overwhelmed with them. Or maybe I’m just more aware of them.

But in the oeuvre of 80s music, one band stands out to me as being the Most 80s of All. Not because they were really my favorite (I don’t think I even owned one of their albums until my husband bought a greatest hits CD in 1997), but because I think they best encapsulate what 80s music was all about. One of their videos was voted Best Music Video of All Time (or something). They were everything we loved about the 80s— neon colors, skinny leather ties, androgynous men that were prettier than most girls. I’m talking, of course, about Duran Duran. These guys were musical gold in the 80s. And somehow they managed to be musical gold, without ever writing a single coherent song.

I have listened to Duran Duran songs thousands of times over the years, and I have yet to hear one that makes a lick of sense. The lyrics sound like they wrote words on pieces of paper, threw them up in the air in a big empty room, and whatever landed face up got used in whatever song they were writing.

Let’s have a lookee at the lyrics from the #1 hit “The Reflex,” shall we? Here’s the first verse, plus the chorus:

"You've gone too far this time"
But I'm dancing on the valentine
I tell you somebody's fooling around
With my chances on the dangerline
I'll cross that bridge when I find it
Another day to make my stand
High time is no time for deciding
If I should find a helping hand

So why don't you use it?
Try not to bruise it
Buy time don't lose it
The reflex is an only child he's waiting in the park
The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark
And watching over lucky clover isn't that bizarre
Every little thing the reflex does
Leaves you answered with a question mark
So, immediately three words come to mind. What. The. Fuck. What the fuck does any of this mean? I have an English literature degree—I spent eight years (yes, I was slow, what’s your point) combing through the works of people like Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, Chaucer, and Edith Wharton looking for contextual references, satiric characters, and random symbolism and I can’t make heads or tails of this. Perhaps I’m not drunk enough (or something). I’m sure with enough stimulant, I would read this and think, “Of COURSE. It all makes sense now!” But even then I’m not so sure. Dancing on the valentine? Try not to bruise it? I say again, what the fuck? And yet, we bought the shit out of their music, and I listen to it to this day.
Where am I going with this? Nowhere.  Weren’t you paying attention earlier? I said that I hadn’t come up with a single major philosophical revelation because we listened to what was essentially techno junk food with guitar accompaniment and a drum solo. But I love 80s music and having The Pet Shop Boys and the Outfield come up on Pandora back to back (“West End Girls” and “Your Love,” respectively) can make my whole day. My kids aren’t as charmed by it, but they don’t have the context for it, either. The horrible school dances, the party that a certain song reminds me of, the movie song that reminds me of That One Time at That Theater When That Boy Noticed  Me. My kids will have context for Pharrell Williams' “Happy” and Robin Thicke singing “Blurred Lines” (God help them, because I suspect that the memories those conjure up will be of their mother doing an embarrassing butt-seat dance in the car). But that’s just how it goes, I guess.
At the end of the day it’s still rock ‘n’ roll to me.