Skating Away on Thin Ice

>> Monday, November 12, 2007

verb [trans.]
To make someone appreciate a thing (music, tv show, concept, etc.) when the person does not want to initially. Revealing a thing’s positive characteristics despite resistance in order to change someone's mind. Example: I’m going to desensitize/appreciatize you into liking Jethro Tull.

What else do you call it when your husband makes you encourages you to listen to hours of Jethro Tull when initially you hate flutey music because it reminds you of all those creepy spaghetti westerns you used to watch at your Grandmother’s house in the 70’s, causing you to associate flutes with loneliness and dusty cowboy boots? Then, after several months of Tull overload, one day you hear Aqualung and find yourself humming along and snapping your fingers?

Exactly -- Desensitize/Appreciatize.

Michael has desensitized/appreciatized me to all sorts of wonderful music. The first step is to desensitize -- to play the music over and over and over again in order to desensitize someone to his/her initial dislike. This is the hardest part because at first the person being “treated” wants to shoot themselves in the head. It’s a version of submersion therapy akin to locking an Arachnophobe in a room full of tarantulas.

In time, however, the person (me in this case) begins to realize that there is no such thing as Death by Tull, thus generating immense relief and setting the person up for step two.

Step Two involves playing the music over and over and over again while adding comments like, “Isn’t it great how Ian Anderson plays while standing on one foot” and “See how he sings and plays flute at the same time?” and “Here, let me rub your shoulders while we listen to Thick as a Brick...”

In time, one begins to enjoy the fun in Ian’s flute-playing. One begins to appreciate the skillful blending of flute, rock, and jazz. One appreciates the poetry of songs like Skating Away and Bungle in the Jungle. Before long, the person (me in this case) becomes a true fan.

I know what you’re thinking. It sure sounds an awful lot like brain washing and maybe you should throw me into the back of a van and force me to listen to Madonna until I’m “cured”. But really, I’m very happy liking Jethro Tull (truly) and I promise I won’t grow a beard, stand on one foot, and pass out Tull lyrics at the airport.

Ultimately, I think appreciatizing is a good thing. It means I hate one less thing in the world -- and that's good. It means I understand more about my husband -- also good. Best of all, it means I see poetry and skill where I once only saw loneliness and dusty boots. My mind is (despite initial resistance) more open. Which, after all, is probably why I married the bloke -- for the opening affect Michael would have on my mind.

Now, the two of us are busy desensitizing/appreciatizing the girls.

“Hey girls, let’s listen to this Death Metal song...”

“No, it’s too loud! Turn it off! I want to hear Sesame Street!”

“But doesn’t the singer sound like the Cookie Monster?”

“Oh, yea... Cookie Monster! Yay!”


Perhaps it works for TV shows, as well. The other night Michael and the girls watched a funny (yet horrifying) episode of Mr. Bean. I missed it because I was doing other things while taking advantage of the TV’s hypnotic powers over my family. Michael played it again later to keep me in the Bean Loop.

As we watched, Samantha snuggled next to me on the couch. Everything was fine until we saw Mr. Bean in his flat preparing the holiday turkey. Suddenly, Samantha jumped up and screamed, “Turn it OFF, Turn it OFF! The chicken, the chicken!”

What is she talking about? I looked at Michael.

Apparently, Mr. Bean lost his wrist watch while stuffing an enormous turkey. After groping for the watch and peering into the turkey's cavernous remains with a flashlight, he finally stuck his head inside in order to look more closely. Then, of course, his head got stuck in the monstrous, freakishly plucked and headless bird. He then ran through his apartment bumping into walls and trying to remove it. It was your basic toddler nightmare.

Looks like someone could use a little desensitize/appreciatize.

Look Samantha, isn’t Mr. Bean silly? See, Mr. Bean’s girlfriend isn’t dead -- she just fainted. Here, let’s have a cookie while Mr. Bean’s girlfriend tries to pull the turkey off his head...

Who knows. In a year, perhaps she’ll want to be Mr. Bean for Halloween -- or better yet, a giant turkey. And all because of a little desensitize/appreciatize.

Now, excuse me while I skate, skate away... on the thin, thin ice of a new day. (Skating Away, Jethro Tull)

P.S. All levity aside, thank you, Michael, for opening my world to the joy of music. From Tull to The Melvins to The Stooges to Sonic Youth (and on and on across many musical genres) it's one of the greatest gifts you've given me (besides the girls, of course). xoxoxo

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