Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ostentatious humility

From The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten (alevasholem): A man is in the synagogue praying: "O Lord, I am nothing..." A k'nocker (blowhard, braggart) hears him, and says "Look who's saying he's a nothing!"

Methinks I protest too much. (New Yorker cartoon: patient on a psychiatrist's couch, saying "Sure, it's not much compared to some inferiority complexes...") Maybe it's how I was brought up.

One variety of song that was popular on Dr. Demento was the love song sung from the beloved's point of view. With an ELIZA-style transformation of pronouns, we got such classics as

"Close to Me":

Why do birds suddenly appear
Every time I draw near?
Just like you, they long to be
Close to me!

"Loving Me":

Loving me
Is easy, 'cause I'm beautiful.
Making love to me
Is all you want to do...

Why do we laugh at them? Perhaps because they show how over-the-top love lyrics are by changing the point of view; perhaps because the singer is violating those social rules some of us were brought up with—they're not just blowing their own horn, they've rented out a brass choir for the occasion!

Anyway... I will try to avoid phony modesty while also learning to accept compliments gracefully, OK?

UPDATE: That's "Close to You," by that immortal group, The Clams. Check it out.

1 comment:

Mordecai said...

There is only one thing wrong with this post my love - all those songs are true! I can well imagine the sun rising in the morning simply to light your day, and the birds singing soley for your entertainment. And what's all this about false modesty? not something I have seen in you yet, nor ever expect too. Lastly, yes you are beautiful, no doubt about that at all, but loving you is easy coz you're you.