Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"Just one Pepsi"

Driving home last night from a church committee meeting, I turn on the only radio station I can stand anymore, Indie 103 FM, just in time to hear these words straight out of my past:
Sometimes I try to do things and it just doesn't work out the way I wanted to.
I get real frustrated and I try hard to do it and I take my time

and it doesn't work out the way I wanted to.
It's like I concentrate real hard and it doesn't work out
Everything I do and everything I try never turns out
It's like I need time to figure these things out
These are the opening lyrics from the Suicidal Tendencies' 1983 punk rock classic "“Institutionalized"”. The song is a “troubled kid'’s” story of receiving "help" for his “problems from his parents and others. The breaking point in the story comes in this hilarious exchange between the boy and his mother:
I was in my room and I was just like staring at the wall thinking about everything but then again I was thinking about nothingAnd then my mom came in and I didn't even know she was there she called my name and I didn't even hear it, and then she started screaming MIKE! MIKE!

And I go: What, what's the matter?
And she goes: What's the matter with you?
I go: There's nothing-wrong mom.
And she goes: Don't tell me that, you're on drugs!
And I go: No mom I'm not on drugs I'm okay, I was just thinking, you know? Why don't you get me a Pepsi?

And she goes: NO you're on drugs!
I go: Mom I'm okay, I'm just thinking.
She goes: No, you're not thinking, you're on drugs! Normal people don't act that way!
I go: Mom just give me a Pepsi, please.

All I want is a Pepsi, and she wouldn't give it to me.
All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, and she wouldn't give it to me.
Just a Pepsi.
Just a Pepsi.

When that song first came out I was twenty-year-old punk poser with a funny haircut, red Chuck Taylors, and an Anarchy pin in the lapel of my thrift store suit jacket. But last, while wearing pleated slacks and a sweater vest, I realized I had switched roles in the years since I'd last heard the song. I found myself listening from the parent's point of view. I'm not too worried that I'’ll have a conversation like that with my son anytime soon (he doesn'’t even like Pepsi), but I've seen too many teen/parent combos fall down the same hole as the poor boy in the song, so the lyric's obvious humor was colored with a tinge of sadness.

But I also realized that getting older doesn't mean you have to lose your youth. It just means you get to go over much of it again from another angle. And that's pretty cool.

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