raging against the machine

December 27, 2005

I’m trying to keep the lines of communication open with #1 son, who just turned 15. This means I listen to his music. With a fair degree of success, actually.

I think I discovered my inner rage when I hit 40. I’m rewriting my life in the 70’s and 80’s by pretending that I didn’t spend it listening to Barry Manilow and ELO. Now I listen to the Ramones and Black Sabbath and buy Dead Kennedys CDs for the kid. He allows me to listen to his Offspring collection as long as I don’t sing in front of his friends.

We argue about whether Green Day has sold out by becoming popular. He insists they must have. His mother is listening to them.

This year for Christmas, I bought my son Godsmack. I made an extra effort to get the unexpurgated version. I figure, if my parenting is going to hell, there’s no point in going half way there. And it doesn’t exactly take a PhD in profanity to figure out what the missing words are when they edit them out. If we are fooling no one, let’s not even try, OK?

Now, along with Godsmack, I got him some other CDs. Ones that I thought I would enjoy.

I got him the complete discography of Richard Cheese.

Back in the day, when I worked full time in a theater costume shop instead of part time in any crummy little job that pay me (and still leave me enough time to watch the kids and write), I worked in a place that forced me to come in on Saturdays and was three doors down from a record store. And I developed a passive aggressive habit of buying novelty music on my Saturday lunch break and bringing it back to the shop “for everyone to enjoy.”

The proportion on “everyone” was about 60/40. There are people who laughed at my stuff, and people who get more of a fingernails-on-a-blackboard reaction. For them, I got earplugs as Christmas gifts. But for the rest of us, it helped speed up Saturday afternoon at work.

I still have a large collection of tapes and bootlegs of stuff like Rhino’s “Worst Records of All Time” (correctly named), and “Yodeling the Classics” (a CD so annoying that even I can’t listen to it).

So to train my son up in the way I would have him go, I got Richard Cheese for Christmas. Richard Cheese sings all his heavy metal, hard rockin’ favorites–

as lounge music.

James loves it. He transferred everything to the Ipod, collated with the actual versions of the songs. And played them for me.

And I was shocked.

The bad thing about lounge music? The worst thing? Is that you can understand all the words.

All of them.

And now I know what I’ve been singing along to.

Wait a minute… Does he really say… Oh, my God… And that’s the one where I turn up the volume and open the windows on main street? There are churches on main street.

So, proportionally, getting the kid one Godsmack CD resulted in less exposure to profanity than buying him novelty records. And I have got to stop singing along to the radio.

Oh $%^#^&%^@#!@#$%#^!

I mean… oh, dear.

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