Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Of course I’m not listening to Taylor Swift. Why do you ask?

I can’t sing, but music has always been a big part of my life. When you’re a shy kid who prefers books to people, it’s natural, I think, for the lyrics in a song to speak to you in much the same way words on a page do. During my formative years, then, I spent a lot of time lying with my head hanging upside down off my bed, blood rushing to my brain in time with the ‘70s songs blasting through my giant RadioShack headphones. I love a variety of music, and I love it a lot.

So at lunchtime today, I grabbed my iPod in preparation for my walk through the skywalks to get some soup at Bruegger’s. My iPod tends to keep my musical secrets pretty well; unless I tell, no one knows I occasionally listen to “Ice, Ice Baby” or “Wichita Lineman.” But today, I really, really needed not to “out” one of my musical selections … and I was my own worst enemy.

I have my own pretty strong musical tastes, but my kids, 22 and 19, historically have exposed me to a lot of music on my “favorites” playlist as well. From Scott, I learned of Trevor Hall and G. Love. Caroline exposed me to modern Broadway music – Jason Robert Brown is now a favorite. So I wish I could blame this on them, but I can’t:

I tend to like a lot of Taylor Swift songs.

What’s the problem with that, you ask? For starters, I’m not 13. And historically, I’ve been somewhat of a music snob. Case in point: When the iPod was on “shuffle” today, the songs preceding the fateful Swift tune were “Middle of the Road” by the Pretenders and “Love Song” by the Cure. I wish I had skipped right to Eric Clapton's "Let It Rain," but I didn’t. I opted to listen to “Mine” by Taylor Swift, and that was when it happened.

For those of you who know the downtown-Des Moines skywalks, I was in the Locust Mall portion, approaching the restaurant that used to have a sports theme and most recently was a pizza place and can’t seem to stay open. A couple of young guys were walking toward me, but were still a good distance away. But I only vaguely noticed them, as I wasn’t really paying attention. Not a surprise to those of you who know me: I tend to be easily distracted.

And because I was distracted, I was singing. Not all that loudly, but loudly enough that at least one of the gentlemen, as he walked closer, obviously heard me singing along with the refrain: “I remember we were sittin’ there by the water…” etc. And the guy, who actually is young enough to listen to Taylor Swift without creeping out the people around him, laughed. At me. For singing.

Let me be the first to say that I would have laughed, too; when you’re using an iPod, you should be aware enough to realize that simply because you can’t hear others doesn’t mean they can’t hear you. I was reminded of this thing my kids did when they were little: They’d cover their own eyes and squeal, “You can’t see me! I’m hiding!”

And there I was, unfortunately not invisible, walking along with my face on fire. I reached down and quickly hit the "forward" button on the iPod, and the Clapton song came on. And I wanted to run back after the guys and say, “Here! Listen to this! See? There’s more to this iPod than you think!” But I kept walking and listening to the music, and before too long, I got distracted and stopped thinking about what had happened. Thankfully, though, not too distracted: As I rounded the corner into the lobby of my building, another song came on by – you guessed it.

My traitor of an iPod? It’s in the bottom of my purse. When I resurrect it, maybe I’ll stick with instrumentals for a while.

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