Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

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The new Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack is helping me push through this summer. Sometime after 4 in the afternoon, I’ll switch to that album and silently promise myself that I can leave work after the last song. My routine might be a little different if I had more music on my phone, but right now my other options are pretty much Rancid and Tool. Actually, I think it’s one of the A Perfect Circle albums on my phone instead, but the difference is negligible. My overall point is something about that movie soundtrack being the most positive music I can access regularly.

There is one song on the GotG soundtrack that I can’t really tolerate. Escape, the Pina Colada Song. It’s a catchy enough song, fun to dance around. It’s the lyrics, it’s always the lyrics that ruin the song for me, or as I am so fond of saying this summer, Face Down Booty Up.

I know lots of other people also hate this song, but for a different reason than my hatred. A commonly cited reason is because they feel like it’s about a married couple cheating on each other. It’s depressing, they say, and incomprehensible that these idiots would meet up for NSA sex and be excited to find out that their significant other wanted to cheat. While I also find the ending of the story of the song depressing, I think it’s hardly as upsetting as the beginning, or the implied back story.

I was tired of my lady, we’d been together too long
Like a worn-out recording, of a favorite song
So while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed
And in the personals column, there was this letter I read

Okay, ennui is a common thing to have happen in a long term relationship, that part is easily forgiven. However, I take issue with the protagonist’s word choice already. It’s not clear to me if the worn-out recording is a metaphor for the relationship or for his wife. Either way, this is a really poor analogy because the one thing you can’t do with a human being is replace them with an unused copy. Unless clones are involved somehow. Anyways, it’s the first verse and we’ve got a husband who perhaps thinks of women as replaceable objects. We’ll call him Jackie Treehorn for obvious reasons. So the text of the personal ad follows in the chorus…

If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain
If you’re not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape
I’m the love that you’ve looked for, write to me, and escape

Let’s expend far too much mental energy over-analyzing every word of this personal listing. First, I will note that this song was from back in the day where you had to pay, probably by the word or line, to publish an ad in the newspaper. So these words were not composed as whimsically as a craigslist ad might be today, i.e. they were all really important to the woman who submitted them. The proper grammar also distinguishes this personal from something found online these days.

The mystery woman posts a description of what she’s looking for, which is also presumably a description of herself. I suppose that’s not an accurate assumption, opposites attract and what-not, but she seems to be suggesting partner type activities so we’ll assume that she’s down for whatever she’s mentioned.

She likes fruity tropical drinks and public sex. She likes rainy days. She doesn’t like working out. She may be an intellectual snob (there’s nothing wrong with that). Let’s extrapolate, she’s probably a whiny, pasty, out of shape, lazy middle aged woman. She’s also desperate because she has paid for a personal ad in the newspaper. Sounds like a real winner, I sort of feel sorry for whoever married this lady. Jackie Treehorn has obviously not thought this through completely because he responds after only a moment of guilt, probably distracted by the briefly mentioned exhibitionism.

I didn’t think about my lady, I know that sounds kind of mean
But me and my old lady, had fallen into the same old dull routine
So I wrote to the paper, took out a personal ad
And though I’m nobody’s poet, I thought it wasn’t half-bad

“Yes, I like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain
I’m not much into health food, I am into champagne
I’ve got to meet you by tomorrow noon, and cut through all this red tape
At a bar called O’Malley’s, where we’ll plan our escape”

So this is where I start seeing red. His response, is not only unimaginative, but manipulative. He says “Oh yeah baby, I totally love all the same things you do.” Then Mr. Treehorn demonstrates his critical thinking and listening skills by applying none of this information to invite her to meet him at… an Irish pub downtown in broad daylight. Based on the information she’s shared, that doesn’t really seem like her scene. Gosh, I hope this woman who deplores half-brained men is smart enough to avoid the oldest pick-up scam in the book. They can make margaritas with Guinness, right?

So I waited with high hopes, then she walked in the place
I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face
It was my own lovely lady, and she said, “Oh, it’s you”
And we laughed for a moment, and I said, “I never knew”

“That you liked Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain
And the feel of the ocean, and the taste of champagne
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape
You’re the lady that I’ve looked for, come with me, and escape”

So, despite all of the red flags, this woman shows up. Think about that. We all know someone who has tried online dating. I have friends who complain when men send messages that are like “Oh hey baby, I liked your profile. Let’s meet up for coffee.” when the profile clearly points out that she doesn’t like coffee. You don’t meet those guys because they are just creeps trying to get laid.

But Mrs. Treehorn’s personal ad only had four lines, and the jerk who responded could barely be bothered to read them…and she showed up anyways?! I’m sure this type of situational awareness is exactly how she ended up married to a guy who doesn’t listen in the first place. Depressed and longing for a beach vacation, she’s let herself go, until finally in her unloved middle age, she’s desperate for an escape.

So not only does she show up, but she is happy to see him even though he was trying to cheat on her. Who is this poor woman; she is married to a jerk who doesn’t really respect women, who she wanted to cheat on, and when he uses the same tired old lines on her that got them together in the first place, she swoons all over again. At this point most people are just confused about why these two aren’t angry at each other, I’m concerned that the lady is a victim of domestic abuse! This song is infuriating and depressing, just to think about these two miserable people, it doesn’t make any sense and they probably deserve each other.

Whatever it’s just a stupid song. I can replace it on my version of the playlist.

schadenfreude

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One of the things I love about the internet is that it provides an outlet for anonymous hatred. I am able to feel better about myself at the expense of others and no one needs to know. Well, I mean before this. Now everyone knows.

There’s that girl who used to be fat, and she lost a few pounds, and now posts the least flattering selfies everywhere. I mean, did you think you looked good today? If my stomach looked like that I wouldn’t be outside in public wearing less than a parka let alone posting pictures of my imaginary abs on the internet. There’s the amateur artist with his deviant-art account, selling shit that’s worse than the doodles I make during conference calls. The kid posting a photo of every meal on instagram and it’s like, dude, my leftovers look better than that crap.

Sometimes, this is all the same person, and I can delight in my perceived superiority. What did people do before the internet? Were we mean to each other for no apparent reason, with all that crankiness secretly bottled up with no outlet?

I suppose it’s also possible that other people just don’t care. That I’m a particularly bad person for sometimes comparing myself to other people to build myself up.

weekends and mornings

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It’s only 7 am and I’m doing something that requires thought and coordination and the desire to be alive. Typically at this hour I’m a suicide risk. Just another change in my life recently, maybe it’s part of growing older. Like maybe this is the first step towards waiting in life at the Old Country Buffet at 5 am, like in that South Park episode. My personal explanation is that life is fun these days, and I’m excited to be awake.

Most recently, while living in Owings Mills, I used to ride the train downtown to the office. Almost every morning I would be nauseous, weak, nearly ready to call in sick. At some level, I hated being there just that much, that my body waged a small annoying rebellion. Fridays were my favorite days, not because of proximity to the weekend, but because on Friday it feels like I have three days to catch up with life instead of feeling behind. Friday, I was already concerned about Monday and Tuesday. I’ve heard a lot of people get the Sunday evening dreads, minor depression or anxiety at the end of the weekend. I got that feeling Friday mornings, and it ruined my weekends.

For the first time that I can recall , I’m always looking forward to going home from work. The weekends feel like week long vacations. The mornings are considerably less horrible, and sometimes quite pleasant. I’m sitting here right now, with a smoothie and a cup of tea, about to go outside on the porch and stretch for a few minutes. Who is this person who doesn’t feel anguish at all times before noon?

Thoughts about coffee

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There are these interesting moments where I become conscious of how much I have changed as a human being. In those moments, my reactions range from, “isn’t it interesting that I drink coffee now?” to “who the hell is this stranger that needs to drink coffee every morning!?”

So yeah, actually coffee is a great example. Up through college even, I always thought it was stupid and tasted horrible. When I started my first grown up job, I went to Starbucks once a week on Wednesdays. I would get a medium mocha, and spend all morning drinking it slowly, savoring the bitter chocolate taste.

When I came back from my summer working in Europe, I uhhh… everything was different. I moved closer to the office. I started treating myself to breakfast ‘out’ every morning in a vain attempt to make mornings slightly more tolerable. Eventually, there was a week where I had breakfast at the new Starbucks on Charles Street every morning.

Maybe a month later I was hospitalized. I lost some weight quickly which temporarily increased my sensitivity to, well everything, but especially foods with sugar and caffeine. In the partial hospitalization program, I practiced awareness of my body and my reactions; I learned how the stimulant helped my depression but exacerbated my anxiety.

I still drink coffee almost every day now. I’m convinced that it’s starting to taste good, but I think that maybe the horrible taste maybe makes life more bearable. Like, no matter how bad I feel in the morning, at least not everything feels as bad as coffee tastes. Spreadsheets are pleasant compared to the taste of coffee. Good thing I’m not in marketing or sales.

I have a grinder and a set of little containers for my ground and un-ground coffee beans. I have a system, an efficient method for getting my press ready, with my kitchen timer set for 3 or 4 minutes depending on how long I stirred  the hot water or whether I think I used more or less beans. It’s a cute little ritual, but it also feels a little like slavery.

So I got distracted and I’m not really interested in fleshing out this idea anymore right now. I’m telling myself that this doesn’t have to be perfect today. I can write more about this later.

 

There’s a BEAR in my brain.

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Motivation and inspiration are strange creatures and I suspect that there is also some sort of conservation principle at work. I mean it really feels like when I have the ideas, I’m not prepared to use them, but then when I feel as though I should accomplish something… yeah, there’s just nothing. I’m not trying to say that I’m special for feeling this way. On the contrary, I find this sentiment is so common that’s one of my definitions for being human. Seriously think about the idea. Have you ever met a bear that was too lazy to make a sandwich, or just didn’t eat dinner for four hours because his friends couldn’t decide what they felt like eating?

Conservation of ideas and motivation is also the driving force behind the comment “that would make a great name for a band.” Like somehow I imagine that my careful preparation will pay off the day I sign my recording deal, I can pull out a little notebook (a weathered moleskin, obviously) and I can leaf through the names accumulated over the years until I find the perfect name for my new band.

Conservation of ideas and motivation is also the reason I have a pile of incomprehensible post-it notes labeled “writing ideas” stuffed into my purse. At least I think that they’re writing ideas. Some of them could be grocery lists, but since I could conceivably write about baking, or how I’m jealous of people who eat beautiful food all the time, or I don’t know. I’ll have to be a little more precise next time, “write things about all the stuff” is a lovely sentiment, but not particularly helpful.

The best part of today is that it’s almost over.

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My Dad is a golfer. I say this meaning he would introduce himself that way, as though golf really defines who he is as a person. (As an aside, I have a special type of hatred reserved for people who introduce themselves using their professional job titles. That is the literal definition of needing to get a life…) I’m so similar to my father in so many ways, that at some point I had to define myself in contrast to who he was, as in, “I am not a golfer.” My rebellion only moderately reduced the number of hours I spent on the golf course, and my imagined anguish ensured that those hours felt longer than eternity. Part of my miniature revolution involved willful ignorance of the circumstances that brought us to the course on any particular weekend. Therefore, any golf course stories I have will be ambiguous and mushy on details so I may just embellish everything to make my Dad sound cooler.

We were at the local course, The Edison Club in Rexford, New York. I know that my Dad was playing at least 18 holes with another couple. I was (maybe) driving the golf cart with the female half of the visiting couple, which means I was at least 9 years old. I can’t remember if Mom was there that afternoon. She would have been carrying her own clubs for exercise so she would not have been involved in the conversation that took place around the golf cart anyways.

Anyway, this stranger taught me her personal superstition about building walls on her scorecard to keep the bad luck in the past. See, when you get a double bogey, or two bogeys in a row, you drew an extra thick border around the scores on your card to trap the larger numbers and stop them from infecting the rest of your game. You’re supposed to play the next hole as though it were your first again.

This was the earliest I remember feeling the germ of the idea that cutting your losses and starting over, at least mentally, was an acceptable strategy, and as a perfectionist, it’s something I latched onto quite strongly. I frequently have bad days, and tell myself that it’s okay to roll over and give up, so long as it gives me an opportunity to start over again tomorrow. I was spoiled growing up, and I spoil myself as an adult, so I never know if this attitude is healthy or perhaps too indulgent. How many days in a row can you take a Mulligan before you’re just avoiding responsibilities? This should be a vague, sort of rhetorical thought, but I somehow, the number three floats into my mind as the precise answer. You can forgive yourself for sucking at life three times in a row before you must reevaluate your life strategy.

This might have been the same day that I drove the golf cart into some shrubs behind the tee on the eleventh or twelfth hole. In which case, my mother must have been there because she tells the middle of this story like I was driving through a monster truck rally. The story ends, as all stories told by daughters do, with my father winning by a significant margin.

new rule

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I can’t let myself save a draft under the delusion that I will come back and want to finish what I started writing. At least not when I’m exhausted from a night with the cat sleeping on my head.

I feel like I got less than ten minutes of sleep at a time last night. I’m craving something to eat, but nothing tastes right. I want to just keep putting small pieces of everything in my mouth until I find that one food thing that is just sweet enough and salty enough and crunchy and chewy and it’s everything and nothing all at once. Then I can finally curl up and my body parts will feel natural, like they all belong together on the same human being. My chest won’t thump and my stomach won’t thump and my head won’t thump, only the things that are supposed to thump, will be thumping. Probably my heart will be thumping. 

It’s just one of those days where I want to go on strike and hope that the world and everything I need to finish will still be waiting for me in the morning.