“It’s actually thrill,” she said. “What?” her wife responded incredulously, “what’s thrill?” “That song you were mocking on the radio. The lyric goes… Long After the Thrill of Living Is Gone.”
“No way.” She put down her Sunday Times, stared then laughed. “You weren’t just being silly?”
“No,” was her petulant response, “who could listen that close to a John Cougar-Mallowmar song, anyway? He’s like if Springsteen was beat into a coma with a spade and came back with one less frontal lobe.” “I dunno,” her wife rustled through that stack of papers looking for the Science or Environmental sections, “he isn’t my thing, but my parents like his albums well enough.” “Your folks think Hee-Haw is edgy satire,” she immediately knew she had screwed up so she corrected, “is edgy satire, my love.” The mistake only summoned a wry smile. “My parents are…” did The Times even print an Environmental section anymore, she thought, is it just editorials praising oil companies and theater reviews now? “Their background is limited. But even they heard the lyric correctly, so what is your excuse?”
“I mean,” having dodged danger, she doubled back to her rant, “Springsteen himself is just a bad photocopy of Bob Dylan. Have you ever really thought about how Robert Zimmerman grew up a Midwestern dirt-farmer only to become Dylan, go electric and buy a Hudson Valley manse then Springsteen, bar rocker from Jersey, spent the back-half of his career pretending he was a folkie Midwestern dirt-farmer?” “Yet either could easily tell you, the word in Jack and Diane is Thrill.”
“No. Even if you’re right, I’m sure most folks hear it my way at first,” her wife just stared at her more, “really? Truly, everyone else hears Thrill as a word in that John Rosencrantz-Guildenstern song?” Her wife nodded. “But if you need to keep riffing on the poor fella’s deeply-unfortunate stage name for your health, we can certainly keep going with this.”
“Swear to you, on Yahweh’s missing vowels, I truly thought,” she paused, she had another good one, “that Johnny Cougar-Maltese-Falcon’s song went… Oh Yeah, Life Goes On, Long After the Threat of Living Is Gone.” “The threat.” “Yes.” “In a nostalgic pop song, for folks like my folks, you thought they’d refer to the threat of living’s disappearance.” “Well, of course. That makes a deeper kind of sense.” “Pop song,” she whispered delicately, “dumb pop song.” “Oh. Yeah.”
“And what does that say about you, then?” “That I’m a deeply-cynical urbanite with no sense of how rubes on their tractors in Iowa experience culture and I’m lucky to have a sensible wife who can explain these things to me.” “Beautiful wife.” “Yes. Of course.” She pulled down the papers once again and they kissed, there, in the late-morning sunshine’s dappling of their front parlor.
“Still,” she said, “I like mine better.” “Of course, you do,” she kissed her again, “by the way, we need a new subscription. Sunday Times sucks worse than Johnny Cougar-Molybdenum lately.”