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Last night, I was desperately trying to get my son to go to bed at an appropriate time and he was not having it, so he was crying.  Of course, no one likes the sound of a crying baby; I have to assume that is a genetic thing wired into all of us so that we attend to the little ones.  Well, my guy was screaming as if someone were torturing him, to the point where he was hyperventilating, so I was stressed and pulling out all of the stops to soothe him.  I even resorted to singing lullabies – Lord knows why this kid actually stops crying when I sing, because most people start crying when I sing.  I have to assume that is also genetic.

But last night even my singing would only work for a second or two before the crying resumed and I would have to try again.  I have a limited lullaby repertoire, and I had to do quite a few repeat performances because this whole mess was going on for at least 45 minutes.  First, I tried “Mama’s Gonna Buy You a Mockingbird” (which I think is the name) because I just learned all of the words on a baby-related website – it’s shocking how much my life has changed.  Next, I tried “Amazing Grace” because my friend told me that she sings it to her son at bedtime and I thought that was really sweet.   Not only is my rendition nowhere near the quality of her beautiful take on the song (yes, Carey, I mean you), but I couldn’t remember the second verse so I just made it up.  On some level, it feels like a sin to make up the lyrics to a hymn.  I’m not talking about the same degree of sin as murder or mouthing off to your parents, but a sin nonetheless.

So after a couple of performances of those two songs I was almost tapped out – I told you my repertoire was limited.  Then I remembered the classic:  “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”  It’s soft, it’s pretty, and it’s about the night.  Excellent!  I sang my best possible version and…still no luck, the kid was screaming bloody murder.

After a couple more repeats of the aforementioned songs, I remembered “The Alphabet Song.”  OK, I don’t normally think of that as a lullaby but I was grasping for straws and it couldn’t hurt to throw in a bit of learning, right?  So I started singing it:  A, B, C, D, E …oh forget it, you know how it goes and if you don’t you have issues.  Anyway, sing it in your head right now, I’ll wait.

Now sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

Notice anything?

That’s right – it’s the same tune!  The music for “The Alphabet Song” is the same as the music for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star!”

I felt totally and completely gypped.  All of these years I never noticed that those two songs used the same exact tune.  Now some of you are thinking, “Duh.”  And others are thinking, “I had the same experience when I sang those songs to my (child, niece, nephew, friend’s baby) – welcome to the club!”  Still others are thinking, “WHAT?!  I feel gypped too!”  I know.  I am not sure why it irritates me so much, it just does.  Neither of those songs are that long, so how hard is it to come up with a new tune?  For real.

Oh, it gets better.  So now I am annoyed and distracted and I still have a screaming baby.  I finally decided that I needed to take him downstairs after an hour of this because even though I am trying to set up a bedtime routine, Rome wasn’t built in a day and, besides, I need to know which song came first so I can determine who ripped off whom.  I know, I need to step up my parenting game but again, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

So I hand the child over to my husband so I can look up the origins of the songs and, assuming the Wikipedia entry for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” is correct (always a good thing to consider), it gets worse:

  • Not only does “The Alphabet Song” share the tune with “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, it is also used for “Baa Baa Black Sheep.”  I mean, come on.
  • The original melody was taken from a French song – so we’re back to the French, are we?
  • This is the best:  the French version of the song is about a girl recounting to her mother how she was seduced by man who beat her afterwards.  Now I am speechless.  And if you believe that I’m speechless, I have a bridge to sell you.

I was a little disturbed that a few lullabies could send me off on a rant, so I tried to accept what I cannot change:  that these three songs share one tune.  I suppose this is just another more step on my path to peace and serenity.  After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

This past weekend, I attended my eight-year business school reunion.  Yes, our class became so tight that we are resorting to non-round number reunions.  The program was a full-time MBA that we pursued on the weekends while we were working full-time during the week…for two years.  It was a lot to take on at once, and I am sure that one reason we all became so close was that the experience was similar to that of being in a foxhole together – we weren’t quite sure that we would survive and we needed to rely on each other to make it through.

Being at the reunion reminded me of an incident which I will now recant for you.  Believe it or not, this is the first of two posts about foul language.  Sorry, Dad.

A little more background…as I mentioned, our MBA program was more stressful than the regular kind because we were working full-time and going to school full-time.  It was manageable if either work or school was going smoothly while the other was busy, but at least twice a semester both work and school would blow up on me at once. 

When I am under pressure, my go-to stress reliever is cursing.  I don’t know why it makes me feel better to use profanity, it just does.  Maybe it’s because there is a component of anger in stress, and cursing is a way of expressing anger.  Maybe it’s just efficient, because throwing a couple F-bombs takes a lot less time than getting a massage or meditating.  Of course, I can’t just use any old expletive when I am stressed; only those with hard consonants do the trick.  Something like “F*CK” is much more effective and gratifying to relieve stress than something like “SH*T.”  Think about it.

One day, on a break between classes, I was lamenting the fact that I had an upcoming test for school and a serious customer issue at work within the same week.  I felt like I didn’t have time to handle either thing well, but that was par for the course.  So I am with two of my classmates who are also stressed, one of whom was from Paris, France, and we are talking about our situations.  You know what happens next.

I say, “I am going to fail this F*CK-ing test unless I can get this customer issue resolved in time to finish studying, goddammit.”

Then, recognizing that these two particular people were not entirely down with my chosen form of stress relief, I say,

“Oh, sorry, pardon my French.”

Following this statement I notice the completely horrified and offended look on my French classmate’s face.  Whoops.  I am sure many of you have heard that saying before, and some of you have said that saying before, but have you ever thought about what it actually means?  Essentially, it implies that French people are rude and use obscenities, and when you say something offensive you can try to pass it off as French.

Which was worse, using the offensive language or blaming it on my classmate’s entire society?

When I told this story to one of the program administrators at the reunion over a drink, and she laughed and said “Who cares?  He was anti-American anyway.”

Well, I wonder why?

About Me

The purpose of this blog is purely self-expression - being creative for the sake of being creative. It has evolved into a collection of non-fiction essays.

All of the anecdotes and incidents you read in this blog are completely true and not exaggerated, no matter how sad, pathetic or unbelievable they may seem.

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