Children’s songs disturb me a bit. I’m willing to admit that I probably think about them too much, but I also have to listen too them too much. Thinking is just an unfortunate byproduct of proximity, like toxic sludge or zonkeys. Have you ever considered the lyrics to the song “Pop Goes the Weasel,” for example? There are lots of different versions, but the one my daughter likes best is almost grippingly distressing.
It starts with a monkey chasing a weasel around a cobbler’s bench, which, rather surprisingly at least to me, is the most understandable part of it. Animal mischief is a fun topic. Cobblers are a fun topic. (And occasionally an enjoyable food, but only when they’re not also humans who make shoes.) I can’t really imagine what’s going on in this scene–why does the cobbler have a monkey and a weasel?–but I can accept it.
Then the menace starts: “The monkey thought ’twas all in fun….” Suddenly we see that the song isn’t about animal mischief; the weasel at least is in earnest. It’s all so unexpected. In fact, until I wrote all of this, I certainly couldn’t have expected to say that phrase in particular. Now I think it should be a slogan: “The weasel at least is in earnest.”
Then the weasel explodes!
Frankly, I don’t think there’s any way to understand that, but I’m pretty sure that the monkey is somehow to blame.