Love the literal way she thinks

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I could tell she’d been crying when I picked her up from dance – her red-rimmed eyes a tell-tell sign.

I asked her what’d happened – my first thought she’d twisted her ankle or something. She told me in a quiet voice, “I’ll tell you when we get into the car.”

I asked her again and got the same answer, “I’ll tell you in the car.”

A few minutes later, we pulled out of the drive and I asked her again what was wrong.

With a quaver in her voice, she told me how the day’s dance song was a sad one that reminded her of her late grandmother. A strange concept, I remember thinking, considering she was going to a hip-hop class.

Anyway, I figured, “What they hey.”

I told her I could understand how that would bother her and asked her what the song was.

I nearly ran off the road when she told me that it was an Eminem and Rhianna song reduced her to tears.

“Do what?” I said. “That’s a rap song. That is not a sad song. Really? Really?”

“It’s got that one line in it, ‘Just gonna stand there and watch me burn.’ Well, it made me think of Memaw,” she said.

“How does a song about an abusive relationship between a crazy unstable man make you think about your dead grandmother?” I said.

And then it clicked for me.

“Oh,” I said, as I looked at her hard, trying to form a response and put it to her delicately. When nothing came to me, I decided to be blunt.

“You know that song has nothing to do with cremation, right? That line is not literal. He means it metaphorically. Like when you say, ‘All the world is a stage.’ The world is not a literal stage.”

I couldn’t help it. I started laughing. A few seconds later, she started laughing and her tension was gone.

I made her read the lyrics to push home my point – the radio-edit version, of course – but it make me smile all night long, thinking of how when you’re young, everything is so literal.

When she came back with wanting to switch from hip-hop class to baton, I said no.

I told her that there are no quitters living in the Nelson household.

“No, but there are people who know what the word ‘metaphorically’ means,” she said.

“That’s right, baby,” I said. “We’re a house full of smart people who don’t believe that the majority of people actually smile when setting someone on fire.”

“Very funny, Mom. Very funny,” she said.