Music: It's all about his baby

True Tales From Everyday Living

January 14, 2007|By Doug Donovan | Doug Donovan,Sun Reporter

Like most people, I do the best of my bad singing in the shower.

Hendrix. Sinatra. U2. Nelly.

I take great pride in the breadth of songs shuffling through my mental iPod and in my ability to butcher classics from all genres.

But my life's soundtrack is undergoing a midlife mutation. One recent morning it became painfully obvious that my musical mind is no longer mine.

It belongs to my 2 1/2 -year-old daughter, Perry.

There I stood, my face planted in a stream of steaming water, and the song that sprang from my lungs and spat from my lips was not from the Cure, Public Enemy or the Sex Pistols. No, the song was this: "Clifford's so much fun / He's a friend to us all / I love Clifford, the Big Red Dog!"

I was even bopping my soapy head to the beat.

Then, without a thought, a second song popped out:

"Dragon Tales, Dragon Tales, it's almost time for Dragon Tales / Come along, take my hand / Let's all go to Dragon Laaa-and."

Forget Madonna, Britney or Gwen Stefani. There is only one female superstar that rocks my mind these days.

Dora the Explorer.

And her theme song followed the first two. For the uninitiated, it goes like this: "Dora, Dora, Dora, the explorer / Boots is super cool / Explore with Dora."

I grabbed the soap, held it out and then pulled it back quickly, singing: "Swiper, noooo swiping!"

Boots is Dora's monkey friend who wears big boots. Swiper is a thieving, mask-wearing fox. The trio infests my brain with friendly songs sung with grating voices.

If music makes the man, then I'm a female toddler trapped inside a 35-year-old married man. How odd: I feel older because children's songs are cramming out all the other music that used to readily come to mind to match moments of the day.

To date, the soundtrack of my life has long drawn music from four categories which I label as "Angry Youth," "Confused Teen," "Idealistic College Student" and "Listless 20s."

I'm talking bands ranging from AC/DC to N.W.A., R.E.M. to Notorious B.I.G., Prince to Radiohead.

It seems like just yesterday that I was alternating between headbanging and headspinning, mosh pits and breakdance faceoffs.

And so my latest category could be called nothing other than: "My Regressive 30s - or how Dora, Barney and Elmo have conspired to drive me mad."

Now I'm either tap dancing in the kitchen to an Elmo song or swaying in my basement with my daughter to a reggae tune called "Do The Rubber Duckie." It's a song by another one-named celebrity - Ernie from Sesame Street - and it goes a little something like this: "There's a brand new dance, and it's got a reggae beat / You do it in the bath while you wash your hands and feet."

It's no Bob Marley.

Don't get me wrong. I cherish the joy my daughter gets from her music.

But her music has spurred anxiety in me over getting old. Inside my car, I used to be able to escape the obvious effects of aging, but now that space, too, has been co-opted. The main reason I have satellite radio suctioned to my front window is to ignore what has taken over the back seat of my car.

Recently, I stopped at a traffic light. An attractive woman stood at the corner, and I pathetically imagined she had checked me out. So I allowed myself to forget - for a second - that I was married with a kid, a mortgage and a pot belly.

The windows were down, I was fresh off the highway, my hair was tousled, and the radio was blasting. Of course she checked me out.

But wait! The radio wasn't blasting something cool. It was booming with some insipid political commentary from a public radio station.

I suddenly realized that I should have had one of those yellow "Baby On Board" signs stuck to the back window, one that read "Dorky Dad On Board." But who needed it when there was a toddler's carseat perched in the back and the rear dash was littered with pretty stuffed animals.

Call me Mister Cool.

I fumbled for the dial. But the light turned green. It was time to move on. I snapped the radio off and found myself humming the Sesame Street theme song.

"Sunny day, sweepin' the clouds away / On my way to where the air is sweet ... "

Later that day, I was on my way to meet my wife and daughter at day care. When I got there two girls were waiting for me. They were both definitely checking me out, and it didn't matter what song was on my radio or what stupidity was spinning in my head.

I surrendered: It is, indeed, Elmo's world - and Dora's, and Barney's, and Clifford's. I have since amended the latest category of songs in my head to: "My Lucky 30s."

doug.donovan@baltsun.com

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