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I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

My Young Old Man


Okay, back to the question of the spousal pseudonym. I seem to have landed on one, with some help from the spouse himself. I really liked DoctorMama’s suggestion, “Mr. E.” And Lisa’s astute observation that it’s a homonym for “mystery” just sealed the deal for me. But I’m all about consent and believe people should have some say in how they’re represented when possible, so I checked “Mr. E.” with the man himself. I kind of assumed he’d dig it, frankly, since he’s the person who calls me “E.” more than anyone else. But for various reasons he balked, and I’m much less excited about the name if he’s not into it. So I said “Well, give me a better suggestion.” And unbelievably, his suggestion was: Old Man, as in “My Old Man,” as in the second track on Joni Mitchell’s classic record Blue.

My man (my Old Man) is a big Joni fan. The moment I first learned that Blue is one of his favorite records of all-time, I fell a little bit in love with him. So the whole “old man” thing has to be understood in the context of the song. Reader, if you are not familiar with Joni Mitchell’s Blue, go out, find a copy, and learn.

My Old Man is a funny name for my beloved, given that he’s fully four years younger than me with nary a gray hair on his dark head. He’s also not a hippie, not at all. (He’s more of an aging skate punk, indie rocker, and idealistically cynical intellectual.) And the Old Man of Joni’s song, while he may not actually be all that old, is certainly a hippie. It’s a hippie song. It’s the hippiest song on a record that is pretty damned hippie. Here’s some basic facts about Joni’s old man, as compared to mine:

My old man, he’s a singer in the park.

My old man has been known to sing, but not in parks. More in bars. He might be moved to do some busking if family finances got tight, but I think he’d prefer to stick to singing on a stage in a bar, preferably with other members of a band playing with him.

He’s a walker in the rain, he’s a dancer in the dark.

As romantic as walking in the rain may sound, my old man tries to avoid it. He did get caught in the rain biking home from school last week, though, and got right soaked.

A dancer in the dark? Is that a euphemism for sex? If so, okay, we’re good. If not? Well, he is a good dancer, and dances around the house quite a bit. Sometimes he dances with me, and I’m kind of a dork. So he’s more of a dancer with a dork than a dancer in the dark.

We don’t need no piece of paper from the City Hall,
Keepin’ us tried and true.

Alright, here’s the hippiest bit of the hippiest song in our CD collection. I happen to know that my mom and stepdad (before they tied the knot in an intimate living room ceremony where the guests sat in a circle on the floor while a Sufi minister named Waduda married them) used to think of this line as representing their unconventional lifetime union. I love them both dearly, and they are big time hippies. And of course, needing to rebel somehow, I never considered marriage a particular compromise (more a socially constructed institution to be radically revised), so my old man and I got ourselves a piece of paper from City Hall within two years of moving in together. But I guess our commitment and fidelity prior to our wedding shows that we don’t need it. Okay, so hippie as they are, these lines can stand.

Oh, my old man, keepin’ away my blues.

Yes, this works.

Okay, so here’s our version of the old man song:

My old man, he’s a singer in a bar,
He’s a biker in the rain, he’s a dancer with a dork.
We don’t need no piece of paper from the City Hall,
(but we got one, a wedding, too),
oh, my old man, keepin’ away my blues.

So, the next time you hear me mention my “old man,” you’ll know who I’m talking about. And you may suddenly find your head swimming with a handful of silly mental images set to the tune of a Joni song.

5 Comments:

Blogger Nancy Dancehall said...

HA! Beautiful! Dancer with a dork! I'm a huge Joni Mitchell fan meself.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

That was lovely. And a Man who loves Joni? Heaven. She was on my "Labor CD's" when I had Em.

I love Joni.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Des_Moines_Girl said...

I love it! I'll have to try writing a song about my Old Man.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I've always liked that about your old man, too - his passion for Joni, that is. Love that song, although I sound terrible when I try to sing along with it in the car.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Aw, crap. Now I have a huge crush on your husband.

3:25 PM  

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