We had to come to a compromise. She loves her music, oh yes she does. I like many of her choices, and was more than happy to share my speakers with her (though I confess, there were moments we had to negotiate the volume).
It’s just…I need more than twelve or thirteen bars of a song.
My entire life has been plagued by the earworm. Often, it’s not the words that nibble away, resonating in my brain from the moment I wake until I go to bed. It’s a rhythm, a motif, a catchy little something that become an endless background loop, regardless of what I’m doing. If it does happen to be the words, it’s often the wrong ones, because I have a hard time distinguishing the right ones unless I read them first. Even so, I don’t get all of them so the sentence doesn’t reach a logical conclusion, and my subconscious tries to make it work.
A particularly stubborn earworm greets me when I wake, even if it’s for a moment in the middle of the night. It whispers to me at odd times during the day. It snickers when I cook dinner. It chortles when I sweep the floor. Just when I think I get rid of it–a process that could take three days–someone hums a bar or two for a joke that only the earworm gets as it gleefully begins to niggle anew.
One of my niece’s songs was such a worm. No, don’t ask me to tell you what it was. At the moment, it’s blissfully snoring in its own little memory box, and I’m content to leave it there (though it certainly will have woken by the time this post is finished). She would say, “Auntie, listen to this,” and play the twelve or thirteen bars before moving on to “What do you think about this?” and present a vastly different twelve more bars. Duelling worms, just what I always dreamed of.
Hence the compromise. I wanted to hear her music, but she needed to complete the song. She promptly created a playlist. Sometimes, I’d take over the speakers with my music–an attempt to soothe the earworms to slumber with Bach and Mendelssohn. This helped me but didn’t do much for her. She’d leave the room to work on her ever-changing hair, moving to a confined space where her subdued music would politely compete with mine. And win, every single time.
Our visit was fantastic. Even so, there were brief glimpses of how we might clash were we to spend more than a week at a time together. There was a moment, for example, when I’d asked her to help with dishes and she didn’t do it the way I wished. I made a request, a simple one I thought. She complied with the dreaded eye roll, teen speak for “Like that’s the thing that matters,” right?
In that moment, I realized my potential to cocoon an earworm for her. How easy it is to create such an environment without meaning to–and with no comprehension of how difficult it will be for the person to prevent a simple comment from multiplying into an unmanageable, ugly, wriggly, mess.
My dad, for example, is not very good at remembering birthdays. Ten years ago, he surprised me with a birthday phone call, that Mom had probably insisted he make. Dad teased me by singing, “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, dear fatso…” and things rapidly deteriorated from there.
Hatching earworms takes no time at all. Eradicating them can take a lifetime.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.