Dear Young Dumb Self,
You know how we put the cat’s dish of food in the microwave until it reaches what the vet calls “mouse-body temperature”? And how, when we do that, the next few things we put in the microwave—a stick of butter, a mug of milk, a MagicBag®—exude a whiff of poultry by-products? Those country music playlists are the same way.
They alter the flavour of everyday life.
Here’s an example: You’re walking to the store for a pint of triple-chocolate salted caramel ice cream, like most people on a Sunday morning. You make eye contact with the middle-aged crisis idling his Harley at the stop sign. You quick-draw your iPhone and thumb to Songza’s Country Breakups. Suddenly, instead of trudging through a day’s worth of mundane tasks, you’re in the throes of authentic human experience. The gull-grey city sidewalk disappears. You’re on a highway, or in a cornfield, or you’re balancing along the sun-warmed surface of a railway tie. Old Man Harley is a rascally cowboy, star of a Budweiser commercial, with straining wranglers and a sheen of masculine sweat on his forearms. Lust, love and heartbreak: the perfect trifecta, the slot machine gamble which offers only winning combinations.
Or: A Tuesday afternoon at the office. You’re at your desk, scrolling joylessly through your inbox, calculating how few hours are left to complete such numerous tasks. You open a new browser tab and in three clicks you’re immersed in Cowgirl Kiss-Offs. Now you're an untamed animal! The collar of your coworker’s denim button-up is in your fist and you’re shouting righteous vitriol in the direction of his remorseful, deep-dark cowboy eyes.
Now you’re sitting on a split-rail fence, swinging your legs while he puts a stem of hay between his lips and studies you licentiously!
Now you and your father are sharing a tender moment on the eve of your wedding!
Now you’re in a small-town diner, serving a slice of apple pie and bearing an expression of deep contentment!
Now you’re slow-dancing in the arms of a man who has loved you since you were sixteen! And you’re sixty-five and still married to him! And there’s a crescent moon glittering above you!
Now you’re sad!
Now you’re so fucking happy!
Now you’re slowly getting drunk in a foul roadside bar!
The point is, you’re alive. Everyone would feel more, love more, desire more if they would only allow themselves to indulge in a country playlist on Songza every now and then.
So do not feel ashamed. Feel powerful. Some people are enslaved to the peaks and valleys of their moods—not you. You’ve cracked the code. You can turn banality into poignancy with a single twangy note. You can elevate a sour mood after just one confessional dialogue with the Songza concierge.
So rock on, my closeted little farm girl. Life needs more flavour, not less.
Old Wise Self
Dear Young Dumb Self,