Birth School Work Death

27 Jun

Does anyone remember this tune by The Godfathers? Came out in 1987, the year I graduated high school. I figured since Kate Bush has made her way back into our Billboard top 10 (#1 tune in UK and Amerikkka last week, in fact), short shorts for males seem to be reappearing in gyms and on our sweltering city streets, and mullets have now been (according to my hip, 18-year-old kiddo) in business (front, party in back . . . see what I done there?) for at least a few years—particularly donned by young women (again, according to my kiddo who, I must warn, isn’t necessarily a reliable narrator, although it’s not on purpose; her brain holds way too much information, most of which is useless, high-school residual matter that, hopefully, will be jettisoned by the end of the summer . . . only to be replaced with other useless data, this time the collegiate type), I figured if all of that is happening and if Stranger Things is responsible for resurrecting all things 80s, well then why not dig up The Godfathers, as well. It is a pretty good tune. And if anything, you’ll get a few minutes of respite from whatever it is you’re doing to listen to a song you may have never heard before. (This opening paragraph right here is an exercise I’ve devised for all who wish to dabble in the editorial sphere of the linguistic world; feel free to use a red pen on your screen and chop this baby down to something simpler and more comprehensible.)

During the weekend, my daughter and I sort of Gump-ed our way into a tremendous Pride Month celebration downtown Raleigh (NC, USA) Saturday afternoon. We were innocently on our way to have some lunch at one of our favourite joints, when suddenly there we were, in the middle of a sea of Pride revelers, none of whom, sadly, were wearing masks. Literally. Thousands upon thousands of people jammed into cordoned-off streets and city blocks, and nary a mask in sight. In some sort of defense, it was a brain-boiling 99 degrees F/38 C (heat index surely in the triple digits F) and the less clothing one wore, the better, but still . . . there’s a pandemic raging, although in the States that particular word will get you drawn and quartered.

On the way to lunch, in the car, the kid played that Kate Bush tune that’s en vogue once again thanks quite directly to Stranger Things, and I suggested she try one of Kate’s other great songs: “This Woman’s Work.” It’s on the soundtrack of a fairly under-rated (though a bit outdated in its ideas) 1987 film directed by John Hughes called She’s Having a Baby. The song is strategically played during a difficult Birth scene/montage-type sequence in which the father (played by 6-degrees meme star cum rock star Kevin Bacon) flashes back to his and his wife’s (played by 80s Hollywood favourite, Juilliard-educated, and recently spotted in the Downton Abbey film, Elizabeth McGovern) most loving moments within the last 9 months of her pregnancy—a period up to this point in the film portrayed as very contentious and full of struggles dealing with societal expectations, parents-in-law’s fickle opinions, etc. In other words: after being shown throughout most of the film all the bickering, fights, and challenges the young couple goes through, from struggling to conceive to the difficult pregnancy itself, culminating in a life-threatening delivery situation, we now have a montage of all the loving, good days the couple had, as well. You know, it’s the typical Bad Times-Good Times cinematic device used by directors, particularly in 1980s rom-coms. But, whatever. It works on me, at least.

Played on top of the “good times” sequence in the movie, “This Woman’s Work,” which is a tremendously emotional song (just Kate, a piano, and a background synth) that runs much like a sine wave in intensity and that underscores the difficulties that women face in our world, is doubly vital at extracting that saline liquidy stuff out of your tear ducts. So here we were on Saturday—my daughter and I—cruising down to grab some lunch on a beautiful (yet igneous) afternoon bawling our eyes off in the car, swooning to Kate Bush. It was a sight to behold, believe you me, our makeup running down our faces and everything . . .

My daughter, bless her heart, (no, really) graduated from high school a couple of weeks ago. The 4-year tenure has been a surreal experience, to hear her describe it. It was a life interrupted. COVID shut her down toward the end of her 2nd year of high school and sent her scrambling to that upside down world (wink!) of online instruction—a world which she despised, and a world in which she more or less failed her 3rd year (more than less; much more). Her last high school year, completed thankfully in person, learning in physical classrooms, was spent making up 11th grade courses as well as finishing everything required to graduate from 12th grade. Thus, it was an arduous 2021-2022 during which she made Herculean efforts to finish with the kinds of test numbers and grades that get one accepted to Penn State or Carnegie Mellon. (Not that that really matters, but just giving you an idea. And also, what compelled me to choose two fine institutions in Pennsylvania, in particular? Hmmm.) This on top of weekly after-school-hours piano and composition lessons. As the typical School phase of one’s life goes, it’s been a bear for her. But it’s over. At least for this next gap year, during which she’s planning to work on both her music, as well as partake in the regular drudgery of Work in general.

Speaking of, this past Friday at my weekly Zoom all-hands-on-deck, now going on 27 straight months with no end in sight, mandatory staff meeting, one of the higher-ups made a non sequiturish (-ish because it wasn’t funny) comment about a hypothetical scenario involving homeless people being eaten alive by ferocious porcine creatures, raised by aforementioned higher-up in his office. This thoughtless, tasteless remark immediately drove 2 of my brightest editors offline, abandoning the meeting faster than you can say asshole person with no couth or regard for the human condition. Much faster.

To give you an impression (“but I don’t do impressions!”) of this insufferable ogre: in charge of the entire IT department, this is a lad in his late 50s with a Master’s Degree in nuclear engineering, who—despite having survived cancer and possessing a compromised immune system—is not vaccinated against COVID, will never be vaccinated against COVID, has been gulping down daily doses of antiparasitic drugs meant for horses and other animals, believes the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the nation’s Capitol was a sightseeing excursion undertaken by some “decent patriots,” likely believes the Earth is flat, and whose every day existence and actions, I’m quite sure, are dictated by one mysterious online entity that goes by the name “Q” and speaks in tongues more ridiculous than those fake jobs you put on boots for whatever reason. On top of everything, when he talks he sounds like these friendly outdoorsy gents. (No disrespect meant to the good folks that struggle with life in Appalachia and don’t resort to raping lost city folk during lost city folks’ camping trips, mind you.)

Yea. One of these guys.

And so my recent high school graduate will be, during her gap year, also joining the workforce as an assistant to a certified nurse, taking care of a cantankerous, quirky but funny, nonagenarian woman (her words, not mine….my daughter’s I mean, not the cantankerous, quirky but funny 90-year-old) who is suffering from dementia. This is my kid’s first foray into the world of employment for meager wages, but . . . as things go, it will be an eye-opening experience which may just send her to college sooner than the conclusion of the gap year.

The Death portion of this piece is still pending. I’m not dead, obviously. (Only inside, but that doesn’t count.) Neither are any of my close loved ones, thank Gadd. When I do finally end up taking that exit off The Big Highway (12 C North to Nazareth), tune back here for an update. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say regarding vibrating in different mediums (media?), musical tastes of angels vs. devils, pleasure cruising up and down the River Styx in a boat helmed by Cap’n Chris de Burgh, and many other observations that might be helpful to those in doubt of some sort of afterlife. Take note: I fully expect to haunt you. But . . . you know, in a good way.

To channel my inner Columbo, one last thing: speaking of She’s Having a Baby and good tunes you may have never heard before, try this. That’s right, that’s Dave Wakeling. From The English Beat. You got it, buster!

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