Friday, January 10, 2014

The Day My Niece Discovered The Rolling Stones

So, people finally got around to doing the whole Christmas thing in my family; last night, my sister and her family visited our tiny town to exchange possessions. Before they arrived, my mother eagerly searched my grandfather's satellite radio stations for a lingering Christmas channel, and, in a late Christmas miracle, there were none left; she instead settled on a 60s station, for which I was grateful.

We all gathered in the living room, and dug into our semi-Christmas meal of Frito pie, and Happy Meals for the wee ones. I sat in the floor -- the unofficial Buford kid's table -- with my niece, and encouraged her to eat her McNuggets. We happened to be sitting in front of the television, which was still tuned into the 60s station, facing away from the screen. The grown-ups were discussing Chris Christie and the political arena in 2014, which are all incredibly boring things for a four year old to listen to; her brain was miles away.
Somewhere between the bike that Santa brought her, and her desperate attempts to pawn her dog off on everyone in the room, her attention was drawn to the radio she was sitting right in front of. Her face changed as she turned to the television.
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The station was playing "Get Off of My Cloud" by The Rolling Stones...


As she listened, she looked back at me with a mixture of excitement, trepidation, and disgust.
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She turned back to the television, touching it with her sticky little girl hand, leaving a mark on the glass over the bouncing ribbon that told what song was playing. With her hand still on the screen, she looked at me again.
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"I've never heard this song before," she told me in a barely audible tone -- not quite a whisper, but almost like she didn't want the tall people to know that she was hearing this for the first time that she could remember -- as she pulled her hand from the television.
"That's The Rolling Stones," I told her, quietly, "they're pretty cool. Do you like the song?"
She continued looking at me as she pensively chewed a french fry.
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"Maybe she's just taking in the song," I thought to myself. If you've never heard something before, you need time to process it. "I'll wait a few seconds before I ask again."
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With her fry gone, she turned back to the television and touched the screen again, leaving another hand-shaped print on a different spot on the glass. A few seconds passed before she looked at me again.
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"The song," I said as she picked up another fry, "do you like the song?"
All she would do is look at me with wide eyes, chewing the fry.
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"Is it a good song?" I asked her a final time, and was met with silence as the song changed.
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"Come on, kid, do I look like Benjamin Button to you?"


After this episode, I have three questions: the first is "how did this happen?" The child's mother loves The Stones; one of the few songs she'll sing is "Paint It Black"...


...and musical discussions between the sisters usually boils down to the age old argument.
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The second question I asked myself was if I happened to be present at the exact moment my niece discovered rock and roll.


And, the final question: "DID YOU LIKE THE BLOODY SONG, LITTLE GIRL?" The looks on her face suggested there was some kind of experience happening within her. The sub-question now, however, is what kind of reaction did she have? Was it a Greatest Generation kind of response...
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...or a Gavin Cavenaugh kind of response?

One of the greatest movies on God's Earth.

And the most annoying part of this third question is that I will never know if the child liked the song, because she was too busy using french fries as a defense mechanism to answer Aunt B.
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