Wednesday, June 8, 2016
It all started very innocently. Just another hum drum breakfast in the grey, dismal corporate cafeteria. The same breakfast run that I made every day. I did not vary from my usual routine of - grab roll, split, insert in toaster, get "to go" box, put several pats of butter in box, grab plastic knife, return to toaster, retrieve roll and place in box. But on retrieval of the go to box, something stopped me in my tracks. I did something that I never do; I noticed the song playing on the giant 1990's style boom box that was sitting in the corner by the coffee machine. It is playing every morning, but I don't pay attention. It is set to the generic, local top 40 station, which I completely ignore as I loathe the bland bland, repetitive songs that it spits out like so much chewed bubblegum. It's just not my thing.
But this morning was different. This morning I noticed the music. This morning, it hit me in the gut like a shot delivered with the ferocity of an off his meds Mike Tyson. As I crossed the cafeteria to pay, I felt the warm sting of tears in my eyes. What in the name of all that is good and evil was happening to me? Then I stopped, took a breath and searched for this song in the creaky old rolodex of my mind (for those of you born before 1970, here's a picture of a rolodex). It took a second, but once the correct synapses had fired, I realized that the last time that I heard that song, I was in Italy.
There is something about walking a cobblestone street, floating in and out of different boutiques and shops, where they all seem to be playing the same station. You hear a snippet of a song in the coffee shop, step into the quiet of the street and the pick the song back up in the leather store a few seconds further. This was one of the songs that was playing in heavy rotation on Italian radio back in December when we were in Italy.
I recognized the song, it took me back to a place, it stirred an emotion, but I had no idea who recorded it. Like most catchy pop songs, it had a frequently repeated refrain, in order to bore into your head like a demonic ear worm that sets up housekeeping for the long haul. I went back to my desk and googled the refrain, and there like a bleached blonde, tattooed horseman of the apocalypse was the Biebs. WTF?
To paraphrase Verbal Kint, the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing an unwitting old woman that she was a Bieber fan. Not to say that Italy is the devil, far from it. But as if to put a bold underline beneath its intoxicating charm, it has romanced me into liking something that by its very existence and attitude I am vehemently against. Pretty neat trick.
I almost lost my positive feeling for the song when I viewed the above video, which is basically a Bieber soft core porn, produced for the benefit of Calvin Klein (many shameless underwear plugs). One view of it provided a clear confirmation that I will stay on the Bieber-hater train, at least while I have my eyes open. But when I hear this song and close my eyes, I am wandering the streets of Sorrento at Christmas time and I forget all about Biebs and his Calvins and go back to the place that I love the most, and it brings a little tear to my eye.