Yesterday I was on my way to K-Mart to buy some containers to put Maggie's toys in to then put on the old shelves which Christian's parents gave us which I painted and carried on my back upstairs and into her room. I mention this not to call into question my husband and my father-in-law's collective masculinity, who had unloaded the shelves together the night before but just to make the point that though I am lazy I am very, very strong. I think a labor camp would seriously do me some good. I know, be careful what you wish for.
So on the way I found myself with the windows down and singing along to U2's "Red Hill Mining Town" which was playing on the radio. Before I realized what I was doing I passed someone else doing the same thing (but singing along to a different song). "What an idiot," I thought.
I haven't heard "Red Hill Mining Town" for a long time because I don't have it on cd but I knew every single word: "We'll scorch the earth. Shet fire to the sky. We shtoop so low to reach show high." It was a little more Sean Connery than Bono but I had all the words right without even thinking. And I never even had to try to memorize this song. So why don't I know anything useful?
I think I could learn anything if it were a good song. Schoolhouse Rock was such a lifesaver for me. I have the cds now but when I was little I just watched it on TV in between cartoons and it seriously taught me everything I needed to know to pass the AP History test and, while I wish it would have gone into slightly more detail on the post-Victorian period, it gave me a basic timeline which I called to mind during my thesis defense.
I'm pretty sure I became an English teacher because "Grammar Rock" was so thorough and engaging. I'd be lying to you if I told you I didn't quote it in class and pretend I was just explaining grammar off the top of my head: Suppose your house needs painting. How are you going to paint it? That's where the adverb comes in. We can also give you a special intensifier so you can paint it very neatly or rather sloppily.
But the Science and the Math Rock--they really could have done more for me. As it turns out, knowing that your heart pumps blood isn't that helpful, and, apparently, there's a lot more going on in math than multiplication tables. I have totally pondered (as an adult) the (what I consider) philosophical implications of "Little Twelve Toes" and wondered, is that true? Would 12s be easier if we had 6 fingers on each hand? It blows my mind. And, to be honest with you, I don't get it.
I don't get a lot of stuff. And that is why my life would be better if there were good songs that I could learn which would teach me helpful things. Stuff like, I don't know, whatever pi is, the A squared plus B something something deal, how to figure out the area of a room (if that is indeed even possible), and (now that I know how a bill becomes a law) just what exactly a filibuster is.
To lend a little continuity to this post, I will end as I began with some anecdotal U2. Last night--the night of the day that began with me singing along to a U2 song--I was at the combined young women/young men activity wearing my (and by "my" I mean "my sister's") Joshua Tree t-shirt. The activity was For the Strength of Youth Jeopardy and when a question came up about listening to music with uplifting lyrics another leader said something to me about "U2" and "Lemon" and "not uplifting." I had a moment of confused panic. (This happens often.)
For a second I thought he was talking about "The Lemon Song" by Led Zeppelin which I think is embarrassing and naughty, but maybe only because of my relationship with Robert Plant. Nevertheless, I didn't know what was going on or what he was accusing me of because my copy of Led Zeppelin II doesn't even contain The Lemon Song. And it's a tape for crying out loud and it has They Might be Giants' Flood on the other side and not even a boy scout could argue with that. . . then I realized s-l-o-w-l-y that I was wearing a U2 shirt. . . and that they have a Lemon song too. . . and that maybe he was talking about that. . . but U2's Lemon is downright spiritual compared to Led Zeppelin's. Don't worry. I didn't respond at all (thanks again, face muscles) until I knew for sure what he was saying. And then--as an extra precaution--I just mumbled. And fifty-four is forty-five more than what? Nine. No it's eight. No it's nine. You're right I was testing you. It's nine.
And that's a magic number.