Have you ever believed something so deeply and surely that you never even questioned that it could possibly be wrong? It never even occurred to you to doubt what you knew to be true? And then when you found out you were abysmally mistaken, your whole world turned into a blur and spun around you until it came to a dramatic stop and zoomed in on your ridiculous shameful face?
Am I going too fast? Is this making any sense? Let me explain.
The above scenario has happened to me 3 notable times in my life.
The first time was when I was probably a young teen. For years I had been ushered around in a van with my momma listening to the sweet, soft rock sounds of Air Supply. Oh, how I loved their breathtaking, romantic ballads! They were so passionate and sweeping! They must have been so in love! Like Sonny and Cher, Captain and Tenille, Beauty and the Beast. These people knew how to be in love. "All Out of Love", "Making Love Out of Nothing at All", "Even the Nights Are Better". His straightforward, masculine crooning the perfect foil for her bombastic alto voice. I asked my mom, "So, are they married?" Then it happened. She answered, "Lace, they're both men." We did not at that point get into any discussion about other potential explanations for two men singing love songs together. All I knew was that the tall, lean woman with brunette feathered hair I had pictured for all those years was a short dude with a blonde afro. Then came the spinning and the jaw-dropping and the embarrassment.
The second was much more recent and life-altering. Oddly enough it has to do with another music duo, the legendary Simon and Garfunkel. I was raised on them. The album cover of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is burned into my psyche. For some reason- I have no idea why- I had it in my head that Paul Simon was the tall curly one and Art Garfunkel was the short, dark one. I lived with this grossly erroneous belief for my entire life. I think I just thought that "Garfunkel" was a short person name. Doesn't his voice sound like a short voice? I don't know. But that's what I wholly believed, and I was never challenged because they were seen as a unit. They were just Simon and Garfunkel, not individuals. Well, maybe 5 or 6 years ago I was in the mood to listen to "You Can Call Me Al" from Paul's solo days. I knew my dad had a hits collection of his somewhere, so I commenced digging. Then I saw it.
Thick black eyebrows. No blonde curls poofing out from under the fedora. "Paul Simon" written in bold along the side. And just like that my vision started to blur. My pulse quickened. The room around me was spinning. I felt like I'd been hit in the stomach. My world was turned on its head. I truly had a pit in my stomach for days after. Something I'd had no doubt about for at least a decade was pure falsehood.
But that could never happen with something as consistent and commonplace as a holiday song, right? All those carols are so ingrained from childhood, one couldn't possibly misunderstand so tragically. There I was. Just over a week ago. It was Christmas Eve. My sister and I were seated at the piano singing Christmas songs. We're cool and hardcore like that. She flipped the page of the songbook in front of us. "Sleigh Ride"! That's a fun one! She played and I sang along glancing down at the words occasionally even though I obviously knew all the words by heart. "Come on it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you! Let's take that..." My eyes found our place on the page. I read the words there. "Let's take that road before us..." I stopped. That was not what I was about to sing!
"Oh my gosh!" I shouted at my sister and she stopped playing. "Are those the words?!?" She read them, then looked at me baffled and confused. "Uh, yes..." she answered. "Oh my gosh!!!" I shouted again with a guffaw of astonishment. I dropped my face in my hands and shook my head. "What?!" she asked. "What did you THINK it said?"
I couldn't believe it! How could I have been wrong about this? Have I not heard this song 100 times every winter since my birth?!? Have I not sung along to it since I could talk?!? Why?!?
"I thought it said 'Let's take that ropey forest'!" I laugh-cried into my hands. She burst into laughter. I tried to explain what I pictured in my head to make those lyrics make sense. There's a snowy path that winds and loops like a rope all around in a forest. I know it's stretch, but I thought that's what the words were, so I made it fit. Oh the humiliation! I have a feeling I will struggle for the rest of my life to get the words right, or at least to not articulate the "t" of "forest" so as to avoid the mockery of family and loved ones.
There you go. Aren't you glad to see that my earth-shattering experiences are pretty much limited to soft rock and holiday tunes and not politics and religion and life decisions? Just keeping it simple. It's what I do best!