A “Mondegreen” is when they play Owner of a Lonely Heart, and you hear “Omar was a lonely horse.”
I learned Home, Home on the Range when I was very young.
I didn’t know what “seldom” meant when I learned the song:
Where seldom is heard
a discouraging word
and the skies are not cloudy all day.
I imagined cowboys, approaching each other on horseback, and saying: “Seldom.”
Then they nodded, disheartened.
After I learned what “seldom” meant, I interpreted the song the same way. I imagined cowboys, saying “seldom,” and feeling greatly discouraged. It made sense to me. For cowboys, the very idea of things happening seldom is a bummer. Cowboys, you see, understand that everything should happen in abundance.
I rode horses as a girl. I grew up believing I would live on a ranch.
Other things I used to believe:
–Everyone wants all the chocolate, all the time, and is just being polite.
–My friends are strong, and brave, and grown up, and therefore, like me, they rarely admit to the fact that they are dying to sing Katy Perry and Shakira.
YouTube This is what I want. This.
I really, truly believed for a long time that everyone secretly knew every word of Ciega, Sordomuda, but was too mature to admit it.
Eventually, after giving myself permission to venture out to koreatown with a few kindred spirits, I realized: Not everyone loves karaoke. Some people find it startlingly akin to standing in a small space with a lot of drunken people shouting at you. But the people of my tribe, those of us who follow Dionysus–we knew better!! We could rent a private room and dissolve into laughter and belt out Guns N Roses!!
Of course, life is a series of mondegreens, and I love many shy people. One of my closest friends happens to do an amazing dancehall rendition of Pour Some Sugar On Me. She’s also a self-described misanthrope. We were once on a train to San Sebastian together, in Spain. A group of guys were playing cards and drinking rum-and-Coke in the café car. I wanted, more than anything, to get in on that game. She convinced me we should go to bed. For the longest time, I believed that she, too, wanted to join the game, but that she had greater wisdom and self-control than I did. It took me most of my adult life to understand: She actually just wanted to go to bed. Some people actually just want to go to bed. I am still allowed to go back to the café car.
P. likes to point out that I always think it’s too late. I have felt that way, for me, for everything, since the moment he met me—since I was fifteen, since forever. It’s too late for karaoke, it’s too late for cards, the party is over and I missed it. Seldom. Damn.
Also, Joan Didion doesn’t sing karaoke. Of this, I am sure.
I called our party last weekend The Last Birthday. I feel, in some very real way, that it was. The Last Party. It’s too late to have any more, there’s not enough light left, not enough time. The problem is, I know all the words to Last Friday Night. And they didn’t have it in the book.
So maybe we all have to go back. Just one more time.