Last week I went in to my son’s preschool classroom to sing for them. Once they found out I was an opera singer it was all over. They wanted me to come in and do some opera for the three and four year old set. But I also wanted to sing with the kids, so they suggested that I sing a non-religious holiday-type tune that would not be offensive in any way, such as, and for instance, the class had just learned “Jingle Bells.” So not “Jingle Bells,” but something similar. The problem was, the more I thought about the lyrics to my favorite innocent winter songs, the more I realized that they were not about what I thought they were about.
What I Thought it Was About: Kids building a snowman and playing outside.
What it is Really About: Sex. I mean, think about these lyrics. They build a snowman and pretend that it is the parson. They declare that, while they are not currently married, getting married would be a possibility in town later. Later on they conspire, as they dream by the fire. They face unafraid the plans that they made earlier, in that winter wonderland. So what plans did they make earlier that they are facing without fear? Marriage! These people just got engaged and are now in front of the fire planning a life together. If you think that this is not going to end in sex, you have never been laying in front of a fire with your new fiancée. I cannot sing this to preschoolers.
What I Thought it Was About: People out and about, enjoying the snow.
What it is Really About: Sex. And Coffee. Okay, it’s not as blatantly about sex as “Winter Wonderland,” but there is still hand-holding, cuddling, snuggling, and a fire afterwards. But more importantly, this song is about boring adult things. They drink coffee and discuss paintings by Currier and Ives. Three year olds do not know about this sort of thing, and they do not care about it. “Sleigh Ride” is out.
LET IT SNOW
What I Thought it Was About: Kids excited about snow coming.
What it is Really About: Sex. Hey girl, we don’t really have anywhere to go today, so being snowed in is no problem, as long as you love me and hold me close and, well, you know… Come on! There’s a fire and everything! I’ll turn the lights way down low, and you just stay here and sleep with me.
I SAW MOMMY KISSING SANTA CLAUS
What I Thought it Was About: A kid discovering his mother kissing Santa, without realizing it was just their Dad. Hilarious!
What it is Really About: Sex. Between your parents. That you are watching. No thank you.
BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE
What I Thought it Was About: Playful banter between people who don’t want to go out in the cold.
What it is Really About: Date rape. Hey Buddy, when a girl says no, she means no. She wants to go home. Stop blocking the door. If she says “yes” after saying “no” one hundred times, just because she has given up, then it is not a real “yes.” You are a jerk. You did not “wear her down.” You are a date rapist. Afterward, when you are feeling all smug and self-satisfied, she will be feeling sad and depressed and emotionally screwed up. Just because it is cold outside is not a good reason to force yourself on someone. Actually, maybe I should have performed this song for the preschoolers and then taught them this important life lesson.
So in the end I wound up singing Jingle Bells anyway. Opera style. They loved it, and it did not have any sex in it. Although I suppose it does contain the grisly tale of a deadly sleigh accident involving the narrator and one “Fanny Bride,” but our culture loves violence far more than sex, at least for children. And I skipped that verse anyway.