A Grenade Lost in Translation

Last week Daughter and I went on a road trip for back-to-school clothes. The destination?

We wanted a fun place with great shopping where we could spend the day together. Somewhere to enjoy a nice lunch in a quaint restaurant on a quiet sidestreet.

And a place where we could check out a beautiful cathedral and medieval town square while we wandered around the historic center.

In a word, Antwerp.

Despite being in Belgium, it’s less than two hours away (less if we didn’t hit the ubiquitous summer construction around Rotterdam), and its shopping street stretches for blocks and is renowned.

So off we went, just us girls.

Despite some re-routing due to the aforementioned construction, we made good time and lucked upon a parking spot just around the corner from the Meir, as the pedestrian shopping street is known.

Several stores and a few bags later, we found just the right place to share an enjoyable lunch. Conversation is sometimes hit-or-miss with a teenage girl, but we were relaxed so this time it flowed.

Afterwards we strolled down multi-hundred year old winding streets, ducking into several small shops that piqued our interest.

Cutting one last swath on the Meir as we headed back to the car, we were able to find almost everything on our list. Mission accomplished.

Despite being 6 minutes past the parking meter time, we’d managed to avoid a ticket. We threw the bags in the back seat, and congratulated ourselves on our good fortune and a job well done.

While we drove home, Daughter chose the radio instead of the CDs we’d brought along. A song came on and I heard the smooth voice of a young man crooning an overwrought love song to his girlfriend.

Except the words were, well, a little odd. I strained to catch them, then turned up the volume. It took a few moments for my ears to recognize the words, but I was able to catch a few snippets.

Catch a grenade…

…hand on the blade…

Jump in front of a train…

…bullet through the brain…

What the ???

Suddenly it dawned on me that I knew this song. Well, I knew of it, because I had never actually heard it before.

Invader Stu of Invading Holland had written the great post Granate! about this very song.

I remembered reading that post and being awestruck that anyone would, no, could write such lame lyrics. And believe me, I’m well aware of the cheesiness of the lyrics of many, many songs.

These lyrics were both insipid and violent. Unnecessarily so, on both counts.

He wasn’t threatening the girl in the song, only professing his undying, or I should say, possibly shortlived adoration. But despite being ‘over the top,’ it wasn’t funny. It was, well, creepy.

‘Who IS this?’ I asked, swiveling my head around to face Daughter. The mixture of confusion and disgust must have been clearly written on my face, because she immediately stiffened.

‘It’s Bruno Mars.’

Uh oh. She’d discovered this usually talented singer-songwriter the previous year when we were back in the US visiting family and friends.

Mars had sung on a rap artist’s song and made it an instant hit that rocketed up the charts. You couldn’t drive anywhere without hearing the refrain she’s got nothing on you, baby coming at you on seemingly every station. All. summer. long.

Daughter liked his voice but respected his song-writing abilities even more; she owns the CD.

‘It’s just that he’s saying…’ I tried to explain, but was quickly cut off.

‘It’s not literal, Mom. They’re metaphors, you know,’ she replied in that tone that only a teen can master.

You know the one, it lingers precipitously between Don’t you know ANYTHING and I can’t believe I have to explain this to you. While I didn’t catch any eye-rolling, it was clearly there in her voice.

The air in the car had instantaneously turned frosty.

It takes teens awhile to learn that not embracing every little thing they adore is not being traitorous. As they forge their own identity, they often mistake criticism of something they like, albeit however mild, as an indictment of their taste. Of themselves.

Without thinking, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind:

‘Sorry hon. I just can’t get Invader Stu’s post out of my mind. It was so funny and …’

Let’s just say that if looks could kill, I wouldn’t be writing this.


Image credit: Digitalart, portfolio 2280, freedigitalphotos.net


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