Janet Gilbert: ‘It’s a Small World’ … and an annoying one

Janet's World

April 16, 2010|By Janet Gilbert

You used to be able to open your mail anywhere and not cause a scene. But now you might unknowingly dump a torrent of glittery stars or multicolored confetti onto your lap. I love this sort of surprise in an envelope, provided I am not at home or in my vehicle, in which case it is annoying because I know I will be vacuuming up these little tidbits for months to come.

Then there are the musical cards, which you certainly don't dare open when you're early for a religious service or a standardized test or the theater, because people are going to shoot you nasty looks when the Commodores start belting out "Brick House."

I have to concede, however, that sometimes there are occasions where the cast of "High School Musical" just sings it better than you could ever dream of saying it. That's why I'll often audio-browse in the greeting card aisle of the CVS, fabricating occasions that justify my purchases of "Hakuna Matata" or "Cheeseburger in Paradise."

I might have a problem.

I've even occasionally wondered, "Just how long can those greeting card songs play?" But no one in her right mind would ever perform the audio greeting card longevity test, because repeated exposure to excerpts of "Wind Beneath My Wings" could surely induce insanity.

All of this is to explain that I did not embark on this intentionally. I simply opened a greeting card from my parents on a Sunday morning and enjoyed the flood of memories that the particular song — "It's a Small World" — brought back: namely, a World's Fair outing with my grandmother in 1964. I might have even opened and closed the card a few times to repeat it, until I noticed it was playing on its own.

I peeled off the back of the card to expose the little chip, and pressed the button to see if I could stop it. Now I was treated to a jazz version, with a lot of sliding up and down on pitches and a most irregular tempo. I put it in a file cabinet in my office, because I was curious and decided I would document how and when the music ended.

Late Sunday afternoon, I took it out and let my son hear it, because the song had morphed into a very slow, minor dirge. I thought the end was near. But somehow overnight, it miraculously snapped back to its original perky version.

Monday morning, I held a breakfast meeting for a small nonprofit in my home, and I needed to check the official school calendar to plan an event. I stepped into my home office and opened my file cabinet.

"Hey, what's with ‘It's a Small World?'" one of my associates asked.

"It's a greeting card from my parents. It won't stop playing," I said. "I'm going to write about it," I added, as if this would legitimize the incessant playing of a greeting card ditty.

Later in the day, I started to work on my column in my office, but I couldn't stand the tune's piping in. I took it outside and set it on the trash can and forgot about it until Tuesday morning, when I let my dog outside and he trotted back up to the door with some paper shards hanging from his mouth. He had ripped off one side of the card and apparently tried to bury the remaining half with the sound chip in a freshly dug hole in the middle of the yard.

I rescued it and rinsed it off. Now it is on a shelf in the garage under a stack of newspapers. My son went out to start the car Wednesday morning and reported that it was still a small world after all. And the time, in case you're wondering, was at 70 hours and 14 minutes.

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