Looking for My Lot’s Pillar of Salt
A blog I kept meaning to write was to be titled “Life in the Vaseline.” But not having heard the Eagles recently, today’s blog is about about a different return of the repressed (or not). It’s one of those blogs which struck me one day thanks to my streaming a 70s station and a having husband who actually listens to lyrics.
I don’t listen to lyrics, much. And for what it’s worth, I barely made it out of 1979, musically. It’s unfortunate, therefore, that I love to sing. I tend to get the vowels right. It’s the consonants I confound, never mind the nouns and verbs. But when it comes to ululation, man I got that covered.
So there I was home with hubs and kids on a Snow Day (yesterday or last month, I forget) when I realize I’ve done Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville a huge disservice. To be fair, the song came out when I was 10. I knew little of margaritas, broken hearts, or even wasting away. But I was raised in a house abundant in devout Catholics, so I knew all about Lot’s wife.
Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett
It’s always been difficult for me to listen to lyrics. I tend to hear voice as instrument so make more than my fair share of faux pas when I sing (or make song suggestions: e.g. to my brother JG for his wedding, when I suggested he and wife Alison do their first dance to Elvis Costello’s Alison… which I thought was a good idea until my sister gave me five across the eyes and explained the song to me).
Alison by Elvis Costello
Curiously, Alison also came out in 1977, same year as Margaritaville. Perhaps not my best year, from an acousto-comprehensivistus perspective.
So listening to the song, I turn to hubs and say:
“Am I the only North American adult over 40 who didn’t know this was about his drinking margaritas whilst mourning a relationship gone bad?” The epiphany was real, friends. I even had a shiver when the penny dropped.
“Yes, Sweetie,” he replied. Tenderly, I might add. “You were. Now Jimmy Buffett can close the books and move forward with his career.”
“So there is no Margaritaville qua Margaritaville? I mean, it’s not a real place?”
“No more a locus than Brigadoon,” he said, crushing me to his chest as I wept, bitterly.
I know there are books written about mis-heard lyrics. In fact, ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy is one I own, given to me, I now realize, pointedly.
Just for the record, I never mixed up the lyrics for Purple Haze. I have my pride.
But today’s blog is about that wondrous epiphany. Like when you’re little and you hear a dirty joke you don’t get until you’re 35. Being the youngest child–by far–in my family, I was victim to a sleazoid brother-in-law (ex-BIL for short) telling me dreadful jokes which only made sense well into adulthood (assuming I remembered them at all). I had such an epiphany for the following joke told to me when I was about 8:
Q: What’s grey and comes in quarts?
You can bet I did NOT get that for a million years. Then one fateful day I’m pouring milk for my tea when the joke comes back to me like a bad burrito. I hadn’t thought of it (or my ex-BIL) in decades. I laughed and — perhaps metaphorically — spilled the milk.
What other deferred delights await me? I wondered.
A Child of the 60s and 70s
As a child of the 60s and 70s, my having watched Monty Python’s Flying Circus still randomly gives back. I recall vividly sitting in grade 10 health class and hearing the word “smegma” (warning: if you want to know what smegma is, click here but brace yourself for a photo of a dinkie) for the second time in my life and burst out laughing. Sister Annunciata was NOT amused and trying to explain And Now For Something Completely Different’s sketch No. 42 How Not To be Seen and Mrs BJ Smegma did not help my cause.
It’s worth watching the whole segment, but for those of you pining to return to FB and click on one of the new icons (hey, drop a like on my page while you’re there), fast-forward this to about 40 seconds in.
Mrs BJ Smegma is hiding…
But back to today (or last week or a month ago) when we’re listening to Margaritaville and I’m having the penny drop. Hubs asks me “well, what did you think he was singing?”
“Well, it changed throughout the years.”
“Let me finish my tea first,” he says before he sits. “Ok, hit me.”
“At first I thought it was looking for my lost pepper and salt.”
“And then I realized it didn’t make sense so I figured it was lost pillar of salt.”
“Of course you did.”
“But that didn’t really tie the narrative together, since he was mourning. So when I was older I decided it was more metaphoric and determined it was Lot’s Pillar of Salt — meaning the dude’s wife or girlfriend had somehow been unfaithful. He was wasting away in Margaritaville — looking for her, trying to get back together maybe. [pause] But what really is kicking me now is figuring out there isn’t a place called Margaritaville. All this time, I thought he was in Mexico. So NOW I realize he was drinking himself to death and if life didn’t suck enough, he lost his salt too. That would suck, a margarita without salt.”
“That’s your take-away? What about blew out my flip-flop?”