It was on a Billy Joel album in 1993, bought with the $20 allowance I was permitted when I went to the mall with friends, that I first noticed a side B. I felt then what I feel now: there are people who actually like the songs that appear on side B just as there are people who finish The Brothers Karamazov, who know how to accessorize, who understand how to change the default settings on Microsoft Word, who move the furniture to vacuum, who are, in other words, thorough. I prefer survey classes, surface cleaning, simple shirt and pant combinations, and songs that have mass appeal. The songs on Billy Joel’s side B did not have mass appeal and were not played on Power Pig 93.3 or Vh1. Compared to “Uptown Girl” and “The Longest Time,” the songs on side B were discordant and political.
Exceptions are wonderful things, and I do appreciate the side B of family photo albums—the pictures that catch the grumpy, frazzled, wearied looks of a family trying to be every one’s “Piano Man” but instead turning into “I Go to Extremes” and then claiming “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” There is nothing like bringing two families together and making them co-exist on one island to bring out the best and worst of everyone; I think I cried either from joy, sorrow, or sleep deprivation every day.
Here’s the playlist for last week’s side B.
Title Track “Give Me a Shoulder to Cry On, and It Better Be My Mom’s”
Clara spent much of the week clinging to my right shoulder, and I spent much of the week enforcing inside voices during naptime to make sure my shoulder got a rest.
Title Track “How Did I Get Here and How Do I Get Back?”
If this was side A, the picture would show Clara resting peacefully on my belly underneath an umbrella, but since we’re being thorough, this one shows the Clara who first resisted all things sunny and sandy.
Title Track “I’d Rather Be on Facebook”
The truth is you don’t always want to swim. Sometimes you just want to read about who’s cheering for the Bruins or watch WWII documentaries. My cousin Alex is a big fan of artillery.
Title Track “Life Could Be Sweeter”
Clara had some big decisions to make last week—stick to her mother’s creed of health and whole wheat or experiment with food hedonism and accept the tasty gifts from her Grandpa and Uncle Mark. Believe it or not, she chose wisely.
Title Track “Someone Just Get Me a Toy”
We forgot to take any toys to the beach, so Clara was left to push her booster seat around the condo and climb in and out of all the empty beer boxes.
Title Track “Love Makes the World Go ‘Round”
On the flight back to Alaska, Aaron and I played “Screw the Cap on the Water Bottle” fifty-eight times and insisted twice that many that Clara not scratch the face of the nice lady in seat 26D. But, like she’s hugging Alex here in full baby abandon, Clara also hugged all the seated passengers as we made our way down the airplane aisle. She’s really into hugging. It’s the cutest thing ever.
Title Track “Life is Not a Rehearsal, So Why Even Try”
At least I can say the wedding rehearsal was followed by some really delicious pork. This part of the week was stressful, as you can see.
Title Track “I’d Rather You Not . . .”
. . . take this picture. Wedding rehearsal stress continued.
Title Track “Honey, Could You Please _______?”
I’m afraid this might be a common look from me. Who knows what I wanted.
Title Track “I’d Do It All Over Again For You”
It’s true. There were some moments. And then there were some other moments. But, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Except maybe one thing, but maybe not even that. Confined spaces make the heart grow fonder. I love my family, and, after all is said, done, married, and paid for: