Wednesday, August 07, 2013

It's 1988!

Handsome Man and I drove from my parents' house in New Jersey to our new home in Georgia in one day. Google Maps on my phone said it would take twelve hours. Whatever maps iPhone uses said it would take almost fifteen hours. MApple/iMap was correct, because apparently it is clairvoyant and predicted a car fire in Virginia and car accident in South Carolina. (And so the Apple v. Android-or-Ubuntu debate continues.)

What maintained our sanity during the drive, as we sat for about an hour between mile markers 137 and 133 on I-81 in Virginia, and as we detoured through an airport to get around the South Carolina traffic jam, were the podcasts I downloaded during the week. In addition to our usual Radiolab and Planet Money, I added some suggestions from a web article I had read right after the wedding, shared by someone or something on my Facebook feed, about the best podcasts for long road trips. Here is the article. New to us from this list, and most enjoyed by both of us, were Here's The Thing and Good Job, Brain!. I also downloaded one episode of, but did not listen to, The Accidental Creative, and one episode of A Way With Words which I enjoyed but I am not sure Handsome Man did. It wasn't as big a hit as Good Job, Brain! Handsome Man and I either discovered or developed a shared love of trivia during our time on a pub trivia team in Portland.

Anyway, one of the episodes of Good Job, Brain! was about music. The link is here. At one point the podcast brought up the Chicago World's Fair and a song with no copyright referred to as, "The Snake Charmer's Song." This is where I discovered something odd. I think I even paused the podcast to exclaim about it to Handsome Man. The podcast gave the song lyrics wholly unfamiliar to me. Handsome Man's memory of the song was in accordance with the podcast's. He began to sing, "There's a place in France, where the naked ladies dance..."

"Wait!" I exclaimed. "That's not at all like the version I know!"

"I wonder if it's regional," I mused, "like playgrounds in different parts of the country have different words for that song. Or if Sparta Alpine School just had its own version. It was about Mars, not France!"

"Mars?" he asked.

I began to sing the following:

On the planet Mars
Where the ladies smoke cigars
Where the men wear bikinis and the children drink martinis

When the snake is dead
They put roses in its head--

Here, Handsome Man interjected, "This doesn't make any sense!"

"I know!" I replied, before continuing:

When the roses die
They put diamonds in its eyes
When the diamonds break

IT'S 1988!

I faltered a little before that last line, as it suddenly occurred to me that out of that whole nonsense song, this last line was the most nonsensical of them all. What does 1988 have to do with anything? We didn't even start singing this song until 1992! Was this a mishearing on the part of someone? Am I misremembering? Did anyone outside of Sparta Alpine School in Sparta, New Jersey, sing a version of The Snake Charmer's Song remotely like this one?

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