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Day of the Sparrow

Two Songs, One Thief

Two Songs, One Thief

I don’t have a TV set, but I visit my parents from time to time, and their television provides me with modernistic experiences. The other day my favorite Mamas and the Papas song rang forth, on a commercial—“Go Where You Wanna Go”:

You’ve got to go where you wanna go,
Do what you wanna do,
With whoever
You wanna do it, baby!

Though I hadn’t heard the 1965 classic for years, I knew this was a remake, not the original. I am talentless in every field, except one: I can recognize minute differences in pop songs. What is this tune advertising? I wondered. The answer, of course, came soon: the Eldercare Medicare Advantage Plan!

My wife and I were driving in Massachusetts three weeks later, listening to oldies radio. Suddenly a song* began that I had completely forgotten:

Maybe I’ll be there to shake your hand,
Maybe I’ll be there to share the land
They’ll be givin’ away
When we all live together.

When the song ended, the DJ spoke. “I know you’re a little discouraged about the election, but stop thinking about it! You’ll feel better soon!”

At this point, listening to ’60s rock means you’re a Medicare-eligible reactionary.

I attempt to live a morally unblemished life, but I have one vice: I steal toothpaste. If I’m staying at someone’s house and I see, in the bathroom, a tube of Tom’s Strawberry Toothpaste for Kids, I’ll place some on my toothbrush, and try it. My main motivation is curiosity.

Let me explain. Often I’ll ask permission, but sometimes it’s too early, or too late. I don’t want to burst in while a mother is feeding her two kids, or a couple is making love, to ask: “Do you mind if I filch a minuscule amount of your dentifrice?”

Nonetheless, theft is theft. Philosophically, it’s the same to steal a Maserati or .06 ounces of toothpaste. I write this essay, in part, to apologize to my past and future victims.

Especially my latest ones: three people in a housing complex in Berkeley whom I didn’t really know. They were friends of my friend Mica. Ironically, the name of the toothpaste was “Thieves.” Its subtitle was: “A Natural Toothpaste Fortified With the Germ Fighting Ingredients Thymol and Eugenol.” It tasted very Californian: herbal and clean.

*“Share the Land” by the Guess Who

Sparrow lives in a double-wide trailer in Phoenicia, N.Y., with his wife, Violet Snow. He often writes for Ground Report. Sparrow has run for President of the United States five times. More by Sparrow