Songs of Torture

Posted: April 18th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: College, Extended Family, Holidays, Husbandry, Miss Kate, Music | 1 Comment »

My sophomore year of college I lived in a dorm near the DKE fraternity. And although much of what took place in their hazing process was, intentionally and gratefully, not common knowledge around campus, there was one component that year that the whole school was, uh, privy to.

Which was that they blasted the same bloody song OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN throughout the famously haunted (but that’s beside the point) Old Kenyon building where they lived, and blaring out onto the quad. To really fuck with the pledges, and anyone else who wasn’t hearing impaired in Knox County, sometimes they’d stop the song for a small stretch. Just long enough to get you really fired up that–sweet relief!–they were moving away from that particular form of aural abuse, and leading some goats into the building or something.

But then, they’d ruthelssly turn it back on. Whaling it extra special loud. And the entire campus would collectively seize up. Scraping at the sides of our faces wondering derangedly if they would ever show mercy on us, and hoping at the very least that whatever intangible social stature those pledges would gain as a result of it all, that it was really fucking worth it.

For years after when I’d hear the song I think I still twitched and gnawed on my lips a bit. I feared I might never shake the trauma.

But here I am, just weeks away from my can-ya-believe twentieth college reunion, and I’m thrilled to report that, as you might have noticed due to its omission–at this point I can’t even remember what that damn song even was.

Which thus far is the best mental yardstick to indicate just how freakin’ long it’s been since my college prime. Well, that or that the experimental mind-erasing procedure I had performed in Boston in ’97 really did the trick.


At any rate, in his years as a Sports Illustrated reporter, Mark got to cover the ’96 Olympics in Atlanta. (And if you’d like a few commemorative duffel bags, t-shirts, or even a 100% rayon necktie from that event, I can happily hook you up.) Anyway, the bombing that year made the already overworked and sleep-deprived journalists there exponentially more overworked and sleep-deprived.

But outside the hotel where most of them were staying–where they’d retreat for the measly hours of sleep they’d get to have a night–there was a street vendor selling sodas, sounvenirs, and the retarded Izzy the mascot crap. The dude worked nearly round the clock and blasted that hateful hot hit which you’ve probably blacked out of your brain by now, “The Macarena.” He played it in an evil, heartless, endless loop.

And really just one hearing of that song when I’m not even mad for sleep makes me want to take a chop stick to my eardrums.

In the past couple weeks I’ve had occasion to think of these episodes. Unfortunately. All because of one greeting card. One of those open-it-and-it-plays-a-song cards, sent to Kate for Easter from her grandparents. (I won’t tell you from whose side of the family.)

Okay, OKAY! So it was from MY side of the family.

This card plays a very tinny version of a song whose nonsensical verses are, “Yummy yummy yummy, I’ve got love in my tummy, and I feel like I’m loving you.” Verses that at times seem sexually perverse to me, and at other times just an odd choice for how vaguely associated with Easter—candy eatin’, I guess—they are. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to ponder this.

Anyway, don’t get me wrong. This card is adored and beloved by Kate. It was incredibly sweet and thoughtful to have sent it to her. Every time she opens and closes and reopens that card—while eating breakfast, peeing, riding her bike, or leering up close to Paigey’s face—every single time, morning, noon, or night, it’s as though the fact that music emanates from it is a freshly exciting revelation. Something she isn’t certain will necessarily happen if she opens it again. So she needs to check.

That gal’s tenacious.

And even though I’ve had on the order of seven breakdowns where I’ve pleaded with her to take mercy on us and it’s only 6:47AM and Daddy is still trying to sleep and don’t you think that’s a little close to Paige’s face and maybe if we just sit down and eat a big pile of candy for a while that would be a fun way to take a little break from the card hmmm? Even with all that, when I cleaned up all our Easter crap a couple days ago, throwing away the already broken or rotten stuff and shoving the rest of it ceremoniously in a garbage bag for basement storage, I still left that card out for her.

Why? Because in a weirdly genuine I’m-happy-that-she’s-happy-even-if-it-makes-me-unhappy maternal way, I feel like with some intermittent intervention I can stick it out until she eventually hopefully tires of the damn card. Or, if there’s a God, it breaks.

Not that I’m setting my sights on it or anything, but if she ever wants to, that girl could DOMINATE a sorority some day.

1 Comment »

One Comment on “Songs of Torture”

  1. 1 The Subtle Rudder said at 7:32 am on April 19th, 2009:

    We had eight-tracks when I was a kid (yes, I am THAT old) and one of the ones we had was called “Funky Favorites,” and along with novelty gut-splitters such as “My Ding-a-Ling,” by Chuck Berry (which made me giggle in much the same way as the teabagging tax protestors of today…boyparts are funny!), it featured the creamy manufactured kidpop of “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy,” which, come to think of it, also has connotations centering around ding-dongs and sexual acts (or maybe that’s last night’s wine talking again…love in my tummy, indeed!). I believe the song was by the 1910 Fruitgum Company, or something of a similar nature, which is easily googled, should you be fitter than I am this AM (see above re: excess wine consumption). All of which to say is your torment has been my delight; thanks for the walk down auralmemory lane. Now toss that ear-crawler and disavow all knowledge of its whereabouts to your daughter. Kate SOMETHING to discuss in therapy as a vaguely dissatisfied 30-something.

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