Perspectives, Perceptions …

This morning I waited for the bus downtown.  I was on my way to meet Alejna for cafe au laits on Court Street.  (Yes, She of the Amazing Pants was in town and yes, I got to see her for a minute.  I love that that can just randomly happen.)  As I stood at the bus stop, this caught my eye:

… and I was immediately humming that song.  What, do you really not know what song I’m talking about?  Happily, YouTube can help us out¹:

I remember loving this song when I was a kid.  It was cute and fun and included the wonderful notion of solo world travel for girls.  I remember all of my friends telling me that Melanie was not singing about roller skates and keys.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  What were they talking about?  And how did they know this song was about something other than skates and keys?  They were 3rd graders just as I was.  Humming the song this morning, I acknowledged that yes, my friends were probably right and Melanie’s words could have been heard differently … but I still like the face-value meaning, still like that — just as Melanie sang — I roller skated and biked and didn’t drive and managed to do a fair amount of traveling. (And I suppose I could mean that in other ways, too, but right now I don’t.)

I also remember my mother having little patience for Melanie as a singer.  She said Melanie’s fame was based on the fact that she couldn’t sing, that she was some kind of novelty because her voice was so bad. And I have always thought of Melanie as a bad singer … and then I listened to her this afternoon and had to do a kind of audio double take.  I like her voice.  Should she have been auditioning for the opera? No, but I love the way she sings.

I can’t remember what I thought of her singing before I was told that she couldn’t sing.  I probably didn’t think about it at all, just liked the song.  How easily my perception of her voice could be skewed.  One stamp of disapproval and my whole perspective shifted.

Huh.  Not sure where I’m headed with this.  Randomly-snapped photo, memory of song, discovery that I actually don’t think Melanie was a bad singer … Maybe the point will catch up with me later.  For tonight, I think I’m just looking to share … and still humming that song … ²

¹ In fact, YouTube even offers up this completely, fabulous and bizarre home made music video of same!
² And liking that photo more every time I look at it. My sidewalk? Yes, it’s dirty. Whatever. It’s also really beautiful!

12 thoughts on “Perspectives, Perceptions …

  1. “One stamp of disapproval and my whole perspective shifted.”
    The above sentence is what I got from your slice. The things we learn or are told as children, how they form our view of the world.
    Then as adults when we see a little purple roller skate, or some other trigger, we have to re frame our thinking as an adult.
    Well, that is what I got from it. I will have to think about that for myself. What lies am I believing?
    And once again, your writing engages me because you are real, and say “Huh.”


    1. Yes, that’s exactly right. I stopped writing this post because a) it was practically midnight and I wanted to put it up and b) thinking about Melanie’s voice reminded me of a bigger perception shift that I didn’t have a way to write about just then. It’s percolating. I have to live with it a little longer …


  2. I’m with the first commenter.

    I had a friend about twenty years ago who disliked the Beatles. She thumbed her nose at any song sung or written by any of them. Considering their wide and varied catalog, I was a little shocked. But the more she talked about her disdain for their success, the more she talked about how her father hated their success. That’s when I realized she and I shouldn’t discuss them. It’s hard enough to slice through a first impression instilled in childhood. I felt I shouldn’t waste the effort on a rock band.

    I hope I’ve been generous with the things I told my daughter when she was young.


    1. It’s hard, right? We have our feelings about things, and it’s natural to want to share them … but how much “unlearning” do we set our children up for? (And, for the record, the Beatles are definitely worth the effort! 🙂 )


  3. Paul

    Meaning builds and follows. It all starts with the noticing and the connecting, and your posts make it clear that you have a great capacity for both. 🙂

    For now, I’m with Pamela: the single stamps of disapproval marking up some of the memories we all hold seems like the larger meaning that is lifting itself out of your thinking…but there’s plenty of room for other currents in the river too.


    1. I think about this and figure my mother probably doesn’t even remember saying that, might not even think it if she heard Melanie sing today. But it really stuck in my head. Hearing those disapproval stamps as children is surely the most powerful, but thinking about this is making me wonder how much I still let my perceptions be affected by some casual comment.


  4. How funny! I was at the park with my sons the other day and snapped photos of TWO abandoned pacifiers. I meant to use them in a post at the time, but completely forgot about it. Need to dig that back out!

    And congrats for getting your post up under the midnight wire! 🙂


  5. Ah yes, I just clicked on your video and I was right with you back with Melaine and while I don’t have a specific memory of this song, I remember singing it as a kid and loving those sweet lyrics. I love the photo that triggered your memory too.
    Now that we are officially not in the music mainstream, it weirds me out when I see young singers/actors that have “made it” I wasn’t around for the experience. Too busy listening to music on wfuv. Do you listen to that channel?


  6. I love this paragraph:

    I can’t remember what I thought of her singing before I was told that she couldn’t sing. I probably didn’t think about it at all, just liked the song. How easily my perception of her voice could be skewed. One stamp of disapproval and my whole perspective shifted.

    How powerful are the words of others. Sometimes I think about that with my blog… how am I influencing others? What statements (or judgments?) am I making without taking time to really think first?

    Great un-formed post! 🙂


  7. luckygurl

    Love that photo you snapped. Pretty evocative. Revisiting childhood perceptions as adults is pretty interesting stuff! It is challenging to feel like you have to have everything “finished” or “tied up nicely” in your posts, when sometimes you just want to muse for awhile!!


    1. I usually spend quite a bit of time with my posts before hitting “publish,” and this month’s challenge is … well … challenging! (Of course, maybe I’d find it easier if I wasn’t just sitting down to start writing at 11pm!)


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