I consider myself a thoroughly ordinary, inoffensive, fairly milquetoast kind of guy. I bathe. I floss. I know how to use a washing machine. I laugh too loud, some would say, although, come on. It seems, however, that some people (ok, my immediate family) find a few of my foibles somewhat jarring, and by jarring they mean maddening.
For example, I tap. Tap my feet, tap a drum roll on any surface, tap the wall as I walk, tap the sink as I do the dishes, tap the computer as I write this sentence. There are variations of tapping, of course. Flicking a dishtowel, spinning a coin or bottle cap, riffling the pages of a book. Pens and pencils will be flipped, erasers or caps tapped, flipped back, perhaps lightly tossed in the air, returned to the hand for some reckless flip tapping, accompanied by a generous drum roll with the other hand. Apparently I tap my feet as I sit, and in moments of exuberance, “play” a tune with my fingers as my feet provide syncopation. Should this be brought to my attention, I freeze, carefully crossing my feet at the ankles to prevent tapping. Silent. Unmoving. Until I begin to rub the shoes together, gradually tapping one with the other.
Blissfully unaware of my curious and constant fidgeting, I am obviously in need of intervention. None of us are keeping track of the number of times I am rebuked, shoved, poked, or swatted per day, but it’s a number alright. Never see it coming. I am startled and confused. My victims assume I’m on high rev, bursting with energy. How do I see myself? Well, the question doesn’t come up all that often, but when asked what sort of creature I consider my spirit animal, I’m inclined to nominate something fuzzy and slow moving. Maybe not slow moving, but deliberate. A panda, say, or a … no, a panda.
The zookeepers here, however, put me in the insect category. Which bugs are the most insistently in the face, constantly moving, humming with purposeless activity? Which are swatted away but which cannot be deflected? On a good day, they suggest, I’m a mosquito or moth; apparently on a bad day I’m a horsefly.
Bad enough, but then too, I hum. The soundtrack of my life is on shuffle and with me throughout the day. I could burst into song and spout the lyrics, but even I observe the basic elements of common courtesy. No, I hum a quiet, steady hum, usually sticking with one song at a time, but occasionally slipping from one to another. I used to assume that I was not alone in waking each morning with the song-of-the-day playing in my brain. I also assumed that everyone kept a constant concert, just popping up. I wake with a tune in my head (“Stay” by Maurice and the Zodiacs, “The Pirate King” from The Pirates of Penzance, “Rum and Coca Cola” as performed by the Andrews Sisters, “Luck Be A Lady” from Guys and Dolls, and the everpresent “Zip-Ah-Dee-Do-Dah”). The range of uninvited tunes is impressively random. Then, as the day progresses, a thousand words encountered in a thousand contexts, put the needle in a new groove. I make oatmeal, and cereal reminds me of the Sugar Pops jungle – “Kell-Ogs Sugar Corn Pops (Bang! Bang!) Sugar Pops are tops!”. That pushed aside, I grab a spoon and hear Doris Day – “By the light of the silvery moon, I want to spoon”, which reminds me of ten other Doris Day songs – “Que Sera Sera”, “Teacher’s Pet”, “Everybody Loves a Lover”, and on and on.
Today’s selections began with the Beatles’ “You Never Give Me Your Money, you only give me your funny paper …”, morphed into “O-O-O-O-O-Klahoma, every night my honey lamb and I sit and talk and watch a hawk making lazy circles in the sky”, and is currently hovering near “Take me home, Oh Muddah, Faddah, Take me home, I hate Grenada. Don’t leave me, out in the forest, where, I might, get eaten by a bear.”
My fictional spirit mentor, Winnie the Pooh, was a hummer. Some of his most insightful moments arrived in the midst of one of his hums. Several are wedged pretty close to the surface, so I’ll stick to only one, knowing it is likely to come dribbling out aloud at some point in the next few hours, probably when my wife is trying to read captions as we watch a Finnish detective procedural together.
The more it snows (tiddley pom)
The more it goes (tiddley pom)
The more it goes on snowing
And nobody knows (tiddley pom)
How cold my toes (tiddley pom)
So that’s in there now.
I drive my family nuts, I know, and I regret my involuntary tapping and singing as it intrudes unbidden in their lives. I stop (mostly) when corrected and really do try to squelch the most obnoxious of behaviors. Someone told me that the best way to escape an earworm is to begin singing “It’s a Small World After All,” as the mindless monotony of the tune blots out any other song that might have wished to persist. Good luck getting that one out once it arrives. The tricky part for me is that tapping and singing seem to be part of who I am. I don’t mind constructive commentary about my brain, but the brain does what the brain is built to do, and mine has a built-in jukebox and a time keeping metronome.
There are more significant questions than “Who Put the Bomp In the Bomp Bah Bomp Bah Bomp?” but I’ll leave those to better, clearer minds and tap my way to bed, knowing there will be a fresh playlist queued up when I awake.
2 thoughts on “I Just Can’t Change My Mind”
I had never thought much about it but now I wonder if Pooh would consent to becoming my spirit animal.
Pooh accepts all seekers!