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Friday, October 18, 2013



This weekend Mrs. C and I took a trip to Massachusetts to watch my son Spencer play football.  This trip which the child custody judge assured me was only four hours is actually a six hour drive.  Six hours of multiple road changes, heavy traffic, and as an added attraction…crazy- ass Massachusetts drivers.  That’s right, I said it, of all the drivers in all the states, Massachusetts drivers are by far the rudest, stupidest, craziest drivers in the country…and they’re proud of it!


The trip is six hours up and six hours back.  That makes twelve hours in a car with Mrs. C switching the radio from station to station (love Sirius) to listen to the music of her choice.  Her choice is music from the Fifties through the eighties.  Mrs. C is an expert on almost all music from these eras.  She names a tune before the first lyric is sung, and can tell you the group or performer…most of the time.  When she does not know the group and all its history, there is THE BOOK.

THE BOOK is “Top 40 Hits” by Joel Whitburn. It has all the songs, all the groups, and all the members in any group from 1950 through 2000.  She has three copies of THE BOOK;  one in each car, and one for the house.  If ever there is a question about top 40 hits which she does not know, she pulls out THE BOOK.

When she is driving, and she does 95% of all driving, she hands me the book and I am required to look up stuff that I really do not care about.  To make it worse, I am the king of stupid when it comes to alphabetical order searching.  Smoke comes out of my brain as I grind through the “Alphabet Song” multiple times for every search. 

“Hmmm… ‘The Kingsmen’…Is that under T or K?”


“AbcdefghijK…abcdefghI…abcdefghijklmN…do you have any idea how many Kings there are?  Wait here it is, “Louie, Louie,” it hit number 2 in 1963.”

“Hey, listen, a Patty Duke hit.  Who knew?  Check her out.”

“Duke…Duke…abcD…abcdefghijklmnopqrstU…here she is.  Yes she had two hits in 1965, “Don’t Just Stand There” hit number eight, “Say Something Funny” hit twenty-two, and why do I care?”

“’Why DO I Care?’  I don’t remember that one.”

“It isn’t a song, it’s a question!”

“You’re a jerk!”

THE BOOK weighs about 14 pounds and rests on the back seat of the car.  Every time I reach back for it seven different muscles in my arm make funny snapping sounds.

“Who was Spanky in ‘Spanky and our Gang?’  Didn't she also join The ‘Mommas and the Papas?’”

“I don’t care.”


“Damn. AbcdefghijklmnopqrS...abcdefghijklmnoP…Geeze I hate this.  Yes, Elaine ‘Spanky’ McFarlane joined the ‘Mamas and the Papas’ in the early eighties.”

Every once in a while I make the mistake of asking a question.

“Wasn’t that song first done by Little Richard?”

“I don’t know, check...”

“THE BOOK!!  Damn, never mind I don’t really care.”

“Well now I do, check THE BOOK.”


Let me tell you, after twelve hours in the car, I really hate THE BOOK!”


  1. Spanky was a GIRL? I thought was the little chubby kid that pal'd around with Alfalfa and Buckwheat and Darlene (?). Maybe I need to get me a BOOK.


  2. I thought for a minute you were gonna break into a few lines of the Duke of Earl (Gene Chandler, 1962).

    "...Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl..."

  3. seems you need an e-reader version. :)

  4. Or perhaps learn how to Google it on your mobile.
    I love doing this as well though so I'm on Mrs C side this time.

  5. I'm also confused about Spanky. The Little Rascals that I grew up with...that kid Spanky was definitely a little boy. He was the president of the He-Man Women's Hater Club! He was definitely not a girl. And McFarland was his last name. So...I'm confused about your reference to him being a girl. Or rather...THE BOOK's referring him to a girl. Will you do a blog post on the true identity of Spanky, please?

    Your driving experience with THE BOOK reminds me a lot of my husband and myself, except for us it's THE MAP. Gosh, but I hate THE MAP. Aren't maps obsolete by now? If not, they certainly should be. We have things like Mapquest and Google Maps - why do we need those awkward fold out things anymore with our modern technology?

    We have a motorhome and my husband always drives with me in the passenger seat. He will ask, "How much farther until we get to such-and-such" and I'll whip out my iPhone ready to hit the map so that I can enter that destination and our "current location" so that it can tell me exactly how many minutes and miles until we ready such-and-such. But oh husband will say, "No...don't use that. Get THE MAP" and so I'll groan, roll my eyes, and he pretends not to notice my displeasure but I know he does, and I'll reach back behind my seat to take out this ginormous map. Then I have to open it to the state we are in, and somehow amongst all the tiny lines and print and small symbols I'm supposed to find exactly where the heck we are on some line that I can barely see. And as I struggle to find where we are, my husband will impatiently say, "Do you see it?" and he will keep glancing over at me, putting on the pressure. And God forbid I start to TURN the map. My husband will yell, "You don't TURN the map! You hold it up, see? North, South, East, West. You don't turn it!!" Ugh. I loath THE MAP.

  6. I simply do not believe Mrs. C calls you a jerk. She's too nice.


    That construction you probably passed has in fact been going on since the early 1990's. That is not an exaggeration.

    Generally I find the idea of book burning to be bordering on heresy, but this might be a special case.


  8. Just for the record, my first date with my wife was a Spanky and Our Gang concert. Sunday will never be the same.

  9. Mrs. Chatterbox has many resource books like this but I prefer not knowing the answers to most trivia.

  10. I'm with Lanthie Ransom. A mobile techy thing with a screen has gotta weigh less than THE BOOK plus Google never lets you go through the whole alphabet before it reads your mind.

    Ah, Spanky and Our Gang. My roomie in college had their first LP going on the stereo all the time. Sunday Will Never Be the Same.

  11. Sounds like you got some exercise. changing the radio would bug me too. Not sure about the BOOK.

  12. At least one arm will be really well-developed. Like a hermit crab with one big claw. You'll be the Cranky Old Crab.