I had to use Anne's car to drive the kids to school this morning, and when I turned it on, her XM radio was tuned to the 80s station.
Ryan hopped into the car, and though I was seriously rocking out to NuShooz, grabbed the radio and changed it.
"What do you think you're doing?" I said.
"Changing the radio station." Translation: You are so lame. I rule because I am sixteen.
"Well, when you're driving in your car, you can change the radio all you want. But when I'm driving, if you'd like to change the radio, please ask first." Translation: I may be lame, but I'm still your parent.
I backed out of the driveway.
Ryan sighed and rolled his eyes. "May. I. Change. The. Station?" Translation: You are so lame. Now I will use the words you requested, but I will deliver them as sarcastically as possible. I rule because I am sixteen.
"No," I said. "You may not." I took a deep breath, "Baby! Ah-ah-ah- can't wait! Muh-nah-nah-nah-nah-bop-de-bop Muh-nah-bup-bop-be-bop!" Translation: I can be just as annoying to you as you are to me. Age and treachery will always win over youth and vigor. I rule because I am thirty-three.
From the backseat, Nolan said, "Wil, this is really horrible . . . radio. You will note I did not call it 'music.'" Translation: I'm not going to join in the lameness this morning. Rather, I will make a joke to diffuse the tension. I rule because . . . I just do.
"I know," I said. "But now that I have the power of horrible 80s pop music, there is nothing that can stop me."
Ryan and Nolan both said, "What?" Translation: What?
Before I could dazzle them with yet another brilliant non sequitur, the song ended, and the opening strains of Mr. Roboto filled the car.
I stole a sideways glance at Ryan, and caught him stealing a sideways glance at me.
"Is this Mister Roboto?" He said. Translation: Uh-oh. I love this song, and I know you've heard me listening to it in my bedroom. How am I going to maintain my carefully-crafted facade of indifference to everything?
"Yep," I said. "You're wondering who I am-machine or mannequin! With parts made in Japan, I am the modren man!"
"Did he just say 'modren'?" Nolan said. Translation: What the hell does modren mean? Can I say hell in my thoughts? I guess I can, since nobody can hear me. Hell hell hell. Hell damn hell. Damn damn crap. Crap damn --
"Inded he did," I said.
"What is 'modren'?" He said.
"It's Dennis DeYoung's concept album version of modern," I said.
"Does this have something to do with mullets?
"You know it does," I began.
"Because the mullet was the official harcut of rock and roll in the eighties," Ryan said. "I remember." Translation: I was paying attention to you that one time. But you're still lame. Nothing personal.
I put on my best Dennis DeYoung voice and nudged the volume knob just a bit closer to eleven. "I've got a secret I've been hiding under my skin! My heart is human, my blood is boiling, my brain I.B.M!"
I glanced at Ryan again. His right leg was bouncing along with the music, and his head was bopping just a little bit. Translation: Must . . . maintain . . . carefully . . . crafted . . . cool . . . but . . . losing . . . battle . . . against . . . the . . . rock . . .
I pulled into a long line of cars and waited to make a left.
"Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo...domo," I looked in the mirror at Nolan, who was struggling to suppress a smile.
"Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo...domo," I looked at Ryan, and pointedly turned up the volume again.
"Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo...domo," I pulled the middle and ring fingers of my right hand into my palm, and folded my thumb over them. The light changed, and we inched toward the intersection. I subtly rocked the goat back and forth, just at the wrist.
At the top of my lungs, I belted out, "Thank you very much-oh, Mr. Roboto, for doing the jobs that nobody wants to. And thank you very much-oh, Mr. Roboto, for helping me escape just when I needed to!" Ryan shook his head, and began to smile.
"Thank you-thank you, thank you! I want to thank you, please, thank you!" I sang, a bit of Shatner creeping into my Dennis DeYoung.
Ryan laughed. Translation: Okay, you're still lame, and I'm still so cool because I'm sixteen, but we've got a long history together, and now that I realize you're not buying into my bullshit -- yeah, I said bullshit. What are you going to do about it? -- I'm going to give it up and enjoy this. Because I am sixteen, not only do I rule, but I can completely change my attitude in a nanosecond.
Traffic grew heavier as we got closer to the school. I turned the radio down to a reasonable volume. Translation: I don't need to embarrass you in front of your peers . . . this time.
"The time has come at last to throw away this mask, so everyone can see my true identity..." I sang.
Ryan joined me: "I'm Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy!" Translation: See? I may be totally cool because I'm sixteen, but I'm not totally lame, either. Remember, if is you who must learn how to deal with me now, because my brain is all messed up. I'm not trying to be a jerk. Honest. I can't help it sometimes.
"Who is Kilroy?" Nolan said.
"I have no idea," I said, as I pulled to the curb and they opened the doors. "But you can be sure he wore a mullet."
"I love you guys," I said. "Have a great day." Translation: I love you guys. Have a great day.
"Okay," they said, "we will." Translation: We love you, too. Even though you're totally lame.
I pulled away from the curb, as Mötley Crüe's Home Sweet Home began to play.
I sang, "You know I'm a dreamer, but my heart's of gold . . ." No translation is necessary.