The Playlist Indiscretion


This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for April 24. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. The photo prompt this week comes from Dee Lovering. My story this week weighs in at exactly 100 words.

Copyright Dee Levering

Copyright Dee Lovering

“In fourteen hundred ninety-two, a sailor went to college.”

“Stop it, Marcus! The kids don’t need to learn incorrect history.”

“C’mon, Jane. There’s plenty of time for a history lesson later. Besides, they like the song.”  Marcus winked at his offspring in the backseat, and the ten-year-old picked up the refrain.

“Tamales? In Spain? They didn’t even grow corn in Europe before Columbus!” Jane shot Marcus a dirty look.

“Lighten up, Honey. It’s just a fun road-trip song.”

In the backseat, the singing continued until the five-year-old belted out, “That son of a bitch, Columbo!”

Marcus’s face turned beet red.

Author’s Note: It can be easy for grownups to forget about the adult content in songs from our past until those lyrics cross the lips of children. For anyone interested, here is a link to a more salty version of “Christopher Columbo” than I originally learned.

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53 thoughts on “The Playlist Indiscretion

  1. elmowrites says:

    LOL, MG. I didn’t know the song but I certainly agree with the sentiment. I am beginning to see why toddlers are a sure-fire way to fill the car with Wheels on the Bus and Five Little Ducks – even radio-edits occasionally slip into language I don’t want to hear from (or explain to) my two year old!

    • storydivamg says:

      🙂 So true. It’s kind of like watching Grease with your kids for the first time since you were 12. All of a sudden, you actually understand all those innuendos and . . . well, you just have to hope your kids are as naive as you were.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Oh, my, that certainly is a saltier version. Too bad Dad has either sung it or played within earshot of the kids. I think Jane is going to give him an ear full.

    • storydivamg says:

      The versions I found online are far more risque than the version I have heard. The one used in army basic training is mostly clean with only the SOB line at the end. Let’s hope that’s the version Marcus sand to his kids!

      Thanks for reading.

      All my best,
      MG

  3. I grew up with lots of road-trip songs but never anything like that, LOL. Not even a g-rated version. (Makes me wonder now, though, about “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain.)

    • storydivamg says:

      Haha! I had sort of imagined Marcus to be a former drill sergeant who sometimes shares mildly inappropriate memories with his kids. The army version of this isn’t nearly as salty as the versions I found online.

  4. I never heard that song, but it sounds like a doozy! Fun take on this challenge. 🙂

  5. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Marie Gail,

    I love the direction your story took and applaud your five year old in the tale for his mastery of the lyric. A wonderful take on the prompt.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Doug! I imagine most of us have known youngsters with such skills. My brother-in-law had to stop listening to a preacher on the radio when his middle daughter was young because she kept repeating “hell” and “Jesus Christ” out of context in ways that made her sound rather like a sailor.

      Glad you enjoyed this one.

      All my best,
      MG

  6. That’s funny, Marie Gail. I had never even heard of that song or any version of it but I had to take a break from my reading to go research it. Not the kind of song you’d want kids to sing on a field trip, although kids do tend to pick up on the worst things. 🙂
    -David

    • storydivamg says:

      I’m glad I could provide you with a diversion from your reading. 🙂 I imagine that most moms would be rather appalled at their youngsters learning a song like this–especially if it happened to be the version available in the link.

      Thanks for reading and weighing in.

      All my best,
      MG

  7. I didn’t know that song but it was apparently written before we all realized what a bastard Columbus actually was. Nice take on the prompt, and now let’s all sing “that son of a bitch …”

    • storydivamg says:

      Yeah, I have a mild curiosity as to the origins of the lyrics most prevalent online. My Google search turned up dozens of versions filthy enough that I threatened to wash my own eyes out with soap after reading them. The versions used for marching cadence in the military aren’t this crude, but it appears that those were cleaned up for that purpose.

      Thanks for coming along for the ride this week!

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  8. Out of the mouths of babes…:)

  9. draliman says:

    I always have to watch my language around my friends’ kids – I don’t swear much but you never know when a word will slip out 🙂
    I followed the link – I wouldn’t even sing that song in a car full of adults!

    • storydivamg says:

      Me neither, Ali. Actually, the version I knew goes more like this:

      in 1492, a sailor went to college,
      while standing on the streets of Spain selling hot tamales.
      He said the world was round-o
      He said it could be found-o
      That hypothetical, navigating
      Son of a *BLEEP*, Columbo.

      Quite a bit more road-trip friendly.

      Cheers!
      MG

  10. Ah, the traps of parenthood. 🙂 Great, humorous story.

  11. gahlearner says:

    I don’t know the song, but the way kids say (or sing) things they’re not supposed to know seems universal. A fun and original take on the prompt.

  12. Great sketch of the vacation from hell. Reminds me of my parents and their constant irritated sniping. Love the research and the style. You did a lot in a hundred words. Nice work.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks so much! Sorry to hear it brought up painful memories though. When I shared this with my cousin, she mentioned that is sounded exactly like something her dad would end up doing. My dad too–except that both of them would probably have stopped abruptly before that last word.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  13. Dear Marie Gail

    Oh how careful we need to be in front of children. They pick things up like little sponges…particularly the things we’d rather they didn’t. Well done.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Rochelle. Yes, there is much truth to the Sunday School song that says, “Oh be careful, little ears, what you hear.” I wish parents would be a bit more careful what they say around those little ears at times.

      Peace,
      Marie Gail

  14. “Be careful little mouth what you say!” That’s a song every five year old ought to learn.

  15. Ha, and kids has an ability to learn the lyrics that grown up lack.. You cannot unlearn what you learned… Love your take here.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks so much, Bjorn! Some of my most happy childhood memories are of singing silly road-trip songs in the car with my dad. Fortunately, he always manage to cut himself short or change the words when foul language would have otherwise crept into a song.

      All my best,
      MG

  16. MG, this could have happened on so many of our car trips! Love the humor, the crisp dialogue, and the lesson. 😉

    • storydivamg says:

      It seems to be a pretty universal (or at least nationwide) bane of fathers with their offspring. Those old marching tunes aren’t quite as child-friendly as one might expect. Glad you enjoyed this one.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  17. Nan Falkner says:

    Wow, our four sons certainly would have sung objectionable lyrics any time they could get away with it – but not in my ear shot. Cute story and funny! Nan

    • storydivamg says:

      So glad this rings true to you. My guess is that at age five little ones don’t actually realize the seedy nature of lyrics like this. 🙂 My guess is also that the older child in that backseat is going to share (or already has) the dirty lyrics with all his friends on the playground.

      Thanks for reading!

      All my best,
      MG

  18. Margaret says:

    A very funny story, and your comment about ‘Grease’ made me remember when our daughter performed as a pink lady in a high school production. I was cringing throughout, but I think, even at 15, she was oblivious to the innuendo. Actually, with many of the ‘ladies’ towering over the boys, the innuendo got lost anyway.

    • storydivamg says:

      Oh my! My best friend’s nephew recently performed in Grease, and I was a bit shocked that his parents allowed it. But, truthfully, if they don’t “get it,” I suppose there isn’t much harm.

      Thanks for weighing in.

      Cheers!
      MG

  19. afairymind says:

    Great story! I don’t know the song but I can easily imagine the children innocently singing the rude words! We play edited versions of songs in the play area I work in but I’ve often heard kids singing along with the swear words included! 🙂

    • storydivamg says:

      Children seem to come with a built-in sonar for dirty lyrics, don’t they? So glad this rang true to you. I know many parents that would be mortified upon hearing this from the mouth of a five-year-old.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  20. Dee says:

    Loved the story and as several people have said, it could have happened on any car trip. I hadn’t heard the song before but laughed as misinterpretation causes such laughter when my little granddaughter is with us,
    Dee

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Dee. I’m pleased as punch to learn that my story strikes chords with so many of my readers this week. Family members reading this have also said, “Oh, I think my dad {or uncle so-and-so} did that.” Truth is often better than fiction.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  21. wildbilbo says:

    Not a song I’m familiar with, but I’ve certainly done my share of swapping in rude lyrics. Being an Australian it was always the challenge to swap the ‘T’ with an ‘F’ in ‘Tucker bag’ (Waltzing Matilda) without the parents noticing… 🙂
    KT

    • storydivamg says:

      Of course you did! Sadly, it appears that whether or not the father in my story had successfully swapped out lyrics for more child-friendly ones, some little ears in that car had previously heard the more incendiary version. It often cracks me up at how we as humans (in every culture, it seems) dust off old songs and tales that we have grown tired of and repurpose them for children.

      All my best,
      MG

  22. rgayer55 says:

    My dad knew several dirty little limericks. I can still remember Mom scolding him a time or two. I got a big kick out of this one. 🙂

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Russell. I must admit that when I looked up the original song on the internet, I wanted to wash my own eyes out with soap–in much the same way that I wanted to wash my ears out when I heard a series of “Man from Nantucket” limericks years ago. Must be a father/little boy thing, I guess.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  23. My kids didn’t pick up salty songs and sing them, but if they had picked them up, they probably would have. My son loved new words, so I’m glad he didn’t adopt any salty ones. That was hilarious. Well done. 🙂 — Suzanne

  24. Ellespeth says:

    Five kids in my family. We didn’t sing this song during vacation trips, though 😛 We played ‘find out of state license plates’, argued, and – every two minutes – we’d ask my dad ‘how much lonnnnnger’.

    Incorrect history, indeed!

    Ellespeth

    • storydivamg says:

      Ah, yes . . . the most dreaded road-trip question of them all–“How much longer?” My mother-in-law taught all her kids how to read a map before they could even read words, so they never asked “How much longer?” Instead, they would ask, “Where are we?”

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

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