It was a good run. No. 3 made it to the ripe old age of 8 1/2 before discovering the "f" word.
Oh, he'd been trying to figure it out for years, and being the smarty that he is, didn't buy it for a minute when his father told him "fandango."
Anything that started with the letter "f" and sounded vaguely dirty, he would suspect was The Word.
Fondue. Fracking. Frijoles. Fuddruckers.
In the end, Spotify gave it away.
If you're unfamiliar with this piece of 21st-century technology, Spotify is a streaming music service that allows subscribers to listen to anything for a monthly fee. Tragically, it does not have explicit lyrics advisories.
And so "Thrift Shop" - a Billboard No. 1 hit by some dudes named Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, whose mothers must be very proud of them for having such masterful command of the best parts of the English language - came blasting through the speakers, and let me say, holy cow, I just Googled the actual lyrics and now I feel like my mom should wash my eyeballs out with soap.
At the risk of sounding like those fuddy-duddy grown-ups in "Footloose" who banned rock 'n' roll music and dancing, I like explicit lyrics advisories. I need those advisories because I am not a lyrics person. Never have been. In life, you are a music person or a words person. I love a catchy beat (Justin Bieber's "Baby" rocks), and I rarely pay attention to the words (duh - "Baby" has only five in it). OK, in full truthiness, I usually don't understand the words.
What Peter Gabriel sang (in French) in "Games without Frontiers": "Jeux sans frontiers."
What I heard: "She's so pooped today."
What Madonna sang in "La Isla Bonita": "Last night I dreamt of San Pedro."
What I heard: "Last night I dreamt of some bagel."
Laugh if you want, but you know that you, too, hear "there's a bathroom on the right" in Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising." Everyone does.
So there we were, tooling down the road in the minivan, and there goes "Thrift Shop" and just as I'm thinking to myself, "Did I hear what I think I just heard?" This sweet little voice pipes up, "So is (not fandango) the 'f' word?"
My mouth dropped open, but I stayed calm. I didn't show a reaction - OK, I flinched but that's not visible from the back seat - and said in my most educatorly voice that yes, that was indeed the word and it's not nice and it's a word that grown-ups use, typically when they're angry, and … blah, blah, blah. When I saw his eyes glazed over in the rearview mirror, I stopped - and then I unstarred "Thrift Shop" from the playlist.
Take that, Macklemore. You, too, Lewis.
Contact Kristen Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4194. Cook has another piece of music-related parenting advice: Before you pass on that old iPod, wipe out all the music on it unless you, too, want to listen to your 5-year-old singing at the top of her lungs, "I like big butts and I cannot lie..." Don't judge -"Baby Got Back" has a catchy beat.