I’ve always been highly susceptible to what those crazy kids nowadays call “ear worms.” Songs get stuck in my head like nobody’s business. Medleys do, too—my own medleys where a scrap of one song feeds into a snippet of another and then sometimes a third and it all repeats again and again and again….
I even used to be able to memorize entire plays. Shakespeare and Moliere, Shaw and Brecht—many classic shows have echoed around up there. I remember one night, while I was directing Pygmalion, I dreamt that I saw the lines floating in front of me. That experience sticks out in my mind because the words haunted me visually, as opposed to…well, whatever you call it when you hear something in your head.
Now, it’s more a string of storybooks. Lots of Sandra Boynton, The Little Blue Truck, and Dr. Seuss. Dear lord, Dr. Seuss! I just read Horton Hears a Who to Little A. tonight and, as I did dishes afterward, I swear my thoughts all started scanning and rhyming. “A person’s a person, no matter how small… daDAda daDAda daDAda daDA, daDAda daDAda daDAda daDA.”
While often irritating, this quirk of the mind can be quite useful, too. When I edit a book, I hear the author’s narrative voice in my head, which allows me to pinpoint jarring spots and to suggest changes that will blend in with the overall narrative. At least, I hope that’s what it does!
Of course, this has led to some funny situations. I edited a fabulous, powerful book about a teenage girl and her gang who bullied every kid they came across. (Unfortunately, it hasn’t been published—it portrayed bullying with terrifying, thought-provoking realism.) So, the narrative voice of the book was a little…rough. Lots of “Bleep this” and “Give me your money, you bleeping bleep” and “Like I give a bleep.”
Well, S. was two and a half at the time and just outgrowing naps. So we’d created “quiet time” in the afternoon, a time when S. supposedly played in her room so Mommy could do some work. I’d settle down and get the “bleeping” law-of-the-jungle voice going through my head, then hear the pitter-patter of little feet.
“Mommy, can you open this box for me?”
What the bleep do you…
“Sure, sweetie. Then you can go play, okay?”
I focus again. The main character hops into my brain. “Look, you little bleep. I’m going to cut you…”
Little feet pitter-patter.
“Mommy, does Mickey Mouse like cheese?”
What the bleep? I don’t bleeping know!
“I guess so, sweetheart. Most mice do.”
Back to work. Some poor high school girl’s got her head in the toilet. But before the narrator has even had a chance to get going, little feet pitter-patter.
“Mommy, will you read to me?”
She knows I’m a sucker for The Lorax.