Keep Your Eyes on the Seatbelt Sign

I make up songs all the time. My wife does it, too, thankfully, because if she didn’t I’d probably drive her nuts. It’s often unconscious, I’ll simply sing something instead of say it. “I’m going to pick up the milk.” “I gotta go to work.” “David’s coming to dinner tomorrow night.” Almost any phrase can be sung instead of spoken. I know I’m not alone in this, although, admittedly, I have not met anyone other than my wife who does this. Many are the times that I considered writing jingles for commercials, but I have no idea how one would go about breaking into that field.

One of the drawbacks to this idiosyncrasy is that I am highly susceptible to earworms. An earworm is defined as “a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing.” It could be anything, a song, a jingle, the theme song of a television show, if it’s got a tune, it can stick in my head for weeks. It’s one of the reasons that, despite being a hardcore Star Trek fan, I couldn’t watch the TV show Enterprise. Note to television producers, a theme song should never have lyrics. One time, I made the mistake of visiting the website www.tunnelsnakes.com. If you are as susceptible as I am, I will warn you right now, DO NOT visit that site. I would wake up hearing that song for months. It would not leave and almost drove me insane. Perhaps it did; who am I to judge?

This background sets the scene for the creation of my latest song. Or earworm, because I hear it in my head all the time. It should be noted that I hate flying. The whole process makes me feel like livestock being herded and then trapped in a tiny seat for hours. I can feel the impatience and anxiety of every passenger on the plane. The last time I flew, it was a short flight, but there was some delay on the tarmac and we sat around for what felt like forever. As I sat, stewing in my seat, trying to distract myself with a book, the pilot’s voice droned over the intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the delay. We’ll try to have you disboarding as soon as we can. In the meantime, please stay seated with your seatbelts fastened. Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign above and, when it turns off, you’ll be free to move around the cabin.”

It was so bland and rote that it was little more than background noise. Not a single one of the weary, jaded passengers even gave it notice. Everyone, except an energetic, five-year old girl. I can’t imagine how much pent up energy she had inside her, but, right after that message, she leapt up onto her seat, eyes sparkling and fists clenched tight and chanted, “Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign! Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign! Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign!”

That’s all it took. I hear that little girl’s chant, like some punk rock anthem, playing in my head so frequently that it feels like my theme song. The tone is some combination of Rage Against the Machine ferocity and the upbeat poppiness of Pretty Reckless. I made it into a fuller song in a futile effort to purge it’s insane catchiness from my mind, but it’s only been partially successful. I know that, since I can’t sing it for you, something will be lost in translation, but I just wanted to share.

Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign
Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign
Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign
Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign

We’re waiting on the runway
Trapped here in our seats
I need to go to the bathroom
And I want something to eat
At the mercy of the pilot
Stuck here on his plane
And his only words of wisdom
I sing in my refrain

Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign
Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign
Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign
Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign

That’s all that I can think of
My eyes focused on that sign
Trying to will it to go out
With the power of my mind
Claustrophobia starts to grip me
And the rest of the passengers, too
All of us desperate to escape
But there’s only one thing we can do

Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign
Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign
Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign
Keep your eyes on the seatbelt sign


The Hummingbird is my Spirit Animal

My spirit animal is a hummingbird. This is not an easy admission for me to make. Quite the contrary. I take no pride in having a hummingbird as my spirit animal, or even having a spirit animal at all, but that’s just the way is it. The hummingbird isn’t exactly the paragon of masculinity, nor are they symbolic of wisdom, or generosity, or bravery or many admirable qualities at all for that matter. Would Richard the Hummingbird have been taken as seriously as Richard the Lionhearted? Even more important to my fragile ego, the very notion of having a spirit animal suggests that I adhere to some new agey, woo-woo concepts. I assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. That being said, there are some facts you just have to accept when they’re staring you in the face and the hummingbird being my spirit animal is one of them.

I consider myself a skeptic, someone with an open mind, but requiring proof to accept some outre ideas. I believe that the evidence supports the beneficial effects of massage therapy, meditation and mirror therapy, but that the science behind homeopathy, astrology and anything that describes itself as “energy medicine” is sorely lacking. I could potentially accept spirit animals as a metaphor, but their actual existence seems ludicrous to me. Until I had a dream.

I remember being in a forest, but you know how dreams go. It was vague, shifting, archetypal primordial forest one moment, claustrophobic, but desolate, city the next. In all of it, I was lost. Every now and then, I would encounter some fantastical, woodland creature or faceless passerby, and they would speak to me, always the same question. “What is your animal? What is your spirit animal?” I was wound tight, I can tell you that. I mean, how the fuck was I supposed to know? I was lost and these dream creatures were hounding me. I sure as shit knew, with that crazy dream logic, that none of this would end until I found the answer. My anxiety reached nightmarish proportions as the questions came quicker and quicker and the landscape became more mazelike.

As dreams usually go, there are no specifics, only an uncertain sense of the details. The one thing that stuck with me was cold sweat and a gut wrenching fear. As I wandered and wandered through the confusing, narrow pathways, a collection of hummingbirds gathered around me, buzzing my head occasionally, some alighting on nearby branches to chirp their discontent. I was so focused on my search that they barely registered, but their numbers grew and grew until I could no longer ignore them. Looking up at the multitude above my head, a voice rose up in unison, a thunderous chorus that shook me violently awake.

“It’s a hummingbird, stupid!”

There are times I have forgotten my own birthday, yet, I remember those words to this day. Those exact words. Could it simply have been a dream, signifying nothing? Perhaps, but it sure didn’t feel that way. To be perfectly honest, it’s those adorable freakin birds giving me sass like a bratty teenager that sold it to me. Their contempt for me was palpable and still ringing in my ears as I sat up in bed. I shit you not. So, while I never wanted a hummingbird as a spirit animal, I never wanted a spirit animal at all, I suppose I’m not really in charge of those decisions. I’m just going to flit away now and find some nectar to drink.