I was tripped up by a country song — it’s an occupational hazard for those of us with blood or marital ties to Tennessee. As such things go, the occasional humming of a Loretta Lynn song is not such a terrible price to pay for your beloved. This time, though, Loretta landed me in trouble.
The best country songs are infectious bluesy numbers with wry insight into the human condition. And, for some unknown reason, I was a line into singing “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” while setting out dinner for my girls. Realizing what the next words out of my mouth would be, I let the song trail off, hoping they wouldn’t notice, only to hear my older girl ask:
“Wouldn’t that mean everybody has to die?”
So, I carried on singing, as if I hadn’t missed a beat: “But nobody wants to die.” Which answered the question, at least in the context of the song. But, as both girls launched into loudly sung and gleeful repetitions of the two clauses, I realized that it was a potentially dangerous chunk of thought to be blurting out in an East Coast preschool where the students and teachers tend to be pre-Loretta-Lynn-literate.
What we didn’t need was two loudspeakers broadcasting at full strength completely unreliable insight into our family beliefs. So, to avoid embarrassment at school pickup, I tried to morph it, before bedtime, into: “Everybody wants to eat ice cream, / But nobody wants to put on PJs.”
I sang it over and again. The girls liked it. They joined in. They bought into the sentiment and put on their PJs. I sealed the bribe with some ice cream which they sat down to eat. And then while sitting, they carried on singing:
“Everybody wants to eat ice cream,
But nobody wants to die.”