Sunday, January 26, 2014

Music Snobs

Katie was taking a bath while I was putting away the laundry.  I'm too much of a helicopter parent to allow our seven-year-old to take a bath in privacy, so she had the door wide open.

I once read that people can drown if they fall asleep in as little as a puddle of water two inches deep, so I expect I'll be trying to accompany Katie to all her baths throughout her life--the public showers in college, the jacuzzi tub in her honeymoon suite, the physical therapy tub when she's in a nursing home.  I plan on not dying until Katie quits bathing.  I don't care how embarrassed she is or how much she begs for privacy.  The way I see it, a mother is responsible for her child's safety, not her sanity.  At least that's how I was raised.

"Mom, I don't wanna wear a cloth diaper over my face!" I'd whine.

"You cannot go outside to build a snow fort without covering your face!" Mom would say.

"But it's embarrassing.  None of the other kids' moms make them wear a cloth diaper over their face to play outside in the winter," I'd argue.

"You'll catch a cold if you breathe in that cold air!  Put on your diaper!" Mom would insist.

This conversation occurred last week, a couple of months after my 43rd birthday.

No, seriously, I'm grateful for Mom's crazy concern for my wellness.  I hope Katie grows to see my neurotic need to bubble wrap her as endearing and not suffocating.  So far, she doesn't seem to mind.

As Katie soaked in the tub, she sang a few pop songs by her favorite artists Katy Perry, Lorde, and someone else who I don't yet recognize.

I'm doing my best to keep up with her taste in music, but it's hard.  The more Katie listens to current pop music, the more I understand how my dad felt when he told me to turn that noise down in my bedroom when I still lived at home.  My dad's a music snob.  He's one of the biggest music lovers I've ever known, but he despises all music but "his music"--Big Band era jazz and swing.  The stuff that was popular when he was a teenager.

When he'd hear Morrissey singing, "Meat is Murder" from my bedroom, he couldn't relate.

"That's not music.  That's garbage.  I stopped listening to popular music when everyone started playing the guitar!  Ugh!  What an awful instrument!" Dad would rant when he'd hear Johnny Marr's jangle pop guitar playing in my room and Morrissey singing about "the flesh you so fancifully fry" along to the sound of animals being slaughtered in the background.

Dad's dad worked at a slaughterhouse until the day he died of a heart attack or alcohol poisoning, depending on who you ask, at the age of 48, twenty years before I was even born.  Dad worked in the same slaughterhouse for awhile before--Thank God--he got drafted and had to join the army during World War II and got the hell out of the slaughterhouse and into another frying pan, but at least it was a European frying pan and enabled him to return home and get his accounting certificate at the vo-tech school on the G.I. Bill, thus keeping him out of the slaughterhouse business for good.

Dad was the first person in his family to not grow up on a farm.  He was born and raised in the city.  His parents listened to country music, but he "couldn't stand it".  He felt too sophisticated for it.  He associated any guitar music with outhouses and moonshine and chewing tobacco, with the hokey music he thought he'd left behind from his youth.

I, in turn, married a guitarist and I can only tolerate horns in Big Band-era jazz and swing music.  Anything else sounds wrong.  Ska drives me insane.  The sax in those cheesy pop songs of the late seventies--awful!  Give me a guitar or a piano, even techo music--over horns.  Please!

I expect Katie will most likely become a band geek and get a scholarship for playing the trombone while the guitar Will and I bought her when she was four gathers dust in the basement.

But I'm not a jerk about Katie's music like my dad was with mine.  Not yet.  I don't make fun of it or say it's lousy any more than I tell her what I really think of her favorite TV show "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" or her favorite book Pranklopedia.  I'd never choose to listen to Katy Perry, watch TMNT, or read Pranklopedia, but it's adorable to see the enthusiasm Katie has for her favorites.

Katie stopped singing and called out, "Mom, who's your favorite musician?"

"Daddy," I said.  It's true.  People think I married Will because he's smart and funny and responsible and has a great family, but no, that's not it at all.  Those are wonderful perks, but I freely admit I married Will because he's a sexy rock star.  Sure, he hasn't sold an album yet or gone on tour, but he rocks my world nearly every night in our basement.

"No, not Daddy," Katie protested.  I gave her a funny look like hey bossypants how do you know who my favorite musician is?   

She continued, "I mean who is your favorite musician or, like, singer, or whatever, that has, like, a song on the radio or YouTube or something?"

"You mean, like, a professional musician?  Someone who gets paid and makes a living doing it full time?" I asked.

"Yeah.  Who is your favorite professional musician?" she asked.

"Huh.  That's a tough one.  I have several favorites," I said.

"I know who your favorite musician is," Katie announced.

"Oh yeah?  Who?" I asked.

"Patti Smith!" she exclaimed.

My heart swelled with pride.  My seven-year-old little Pop Diva aficionado knows who Patti Smith is.  Katie herself might prefer Katy Perry to Patti Smith, but she's cool enough to at least know who Patti Smith is.  

Guess I take after my dad after all.  Music snobbery must be hereditary.