Weeks ago, Namiko, the kids and I went on a road trip to Colorado to visit Namiko’s sister. Since we had planned to be on the road for a few days with an agreement to limit “screen time” for the kids (we didn’t want them to miss the scenery), I made sure to pack plenty of music for the trip.
By the time we had reached the Nevada border, the kids had both requested to hear “Hold on Tight”, a catchy 1980s hit performed by Samantha Fox that gushed with vivacious 1950s-style rockabilly.
Namiko, immediately recognizing the request, started to thumb through the sleeves of my massive CD folder in a fruitless search of the “Touch Me” album that housed the song. “I don’t think your dad packed that one.”
“Actually, I did. It’s on the green disc near the front.”
A few seconds later Namiko pulled out from the folder a metallic green CD-R marked only with three hand-scrawled letters: S, F, and X.
Shortly after I had returned from Japan, I had created a “mix CD” of… um… non-suggestive songs from my Samantha Fox albums so I could listen to them in the car while the kids were in the back seat. In addition to “Hold On Tight,” I had mixed in other bouncy tunes like “If Music Be the Food of Love,” “Rocking with My Radio”, “Aim to Win” and “Holding” (the last three were some of the earliest songs Ms. Fox recorded as part of a group called S.F.X., which inspired my handwritten label). I also included songs of empowerment such as “Nothing You Do, Nothing You Say”, “Never Gonna Fall in Love with You Again”, and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now”. There were love songs as well, including “I’m All You Need”, “Baby I’m Lost for Words”, “Cause an Effect”, “Ready for this Love”, “Dreams Unfold”, and “The Best Is Yet to Come” (which was actually “our song” at Namiko’s and my wedding reception, which a number of guests had never before heard, yet loved – as much as Namiko loved the look of surprise the guests gave her when she revealed who the singer was). And I did not forget to add touching ballads such as “Out of Our Hands”, “Dream City” and, of course, “True Devotion”.
Namiko chuckled a bit at my shorter explanation of the album (essentially the first sentence of the previous paragraph). “’Non-suggestive’? Are you worried about Sam Fox giving the kids ideas?”
I turned ever so briefly away from the moderate traffic ahead of me on I-80 to toss my wife a quick look, only to reveal to her that I had blushed a little at the remark. “No, not at all.”
However, Isamu and Aika loved to sing, and they both had the uncanny ability to pick up 90 percent of a song’s lyrics after only a few listens (even if they don’t fully understand all of the words). Sometimes the catchier song lyrics are picked up straightaway. There had been a time, a few days after watching the first Percy Jackson movie, that Isamu, then age 6, spontaneously belted out the chorus to the soundtrack's “Highway to Hell” (which to him was just shouting that phrase over and over and over) in a crowded supermarket. Aika, at age 7, enjoyed listening to Namiko’s Katy Perry Teenage Dream album, and she especially enjoyed singing “I Wanna See Your Peacock (cock cock)” at the top of her lungs on the schoolyard to see the “funny” reaction from the teachers.
Indeed, since I had started playing my Samantha Fox mix CD in the car, both Namiko and Isamu now loved to sing along to “Hold on Tight” and “Rockin’ with My Radio.” Let’s just say I didn’t want to add the catchy-yet-suggestive lyrics of “Touch Me” and “Naughty Girls” to their vocal repertoire at this time.
Of course, my response to Namiko in the car was much briefer: “Since the kids are going to sing along, and sing out loud, I figure it is best they do so with songs that they both understand and that are… um… safe to sing in public.”
“Safe…” Namiko repeated slowly, as if to emphasize my momentary struggle to find that word.
The traffic had started to pick up a little then so I had to keep my eyes on the road, but I was sure that I heard my wife’s face crinkle slightly with amusement.
By this time, “Hold on Tight” was in full swing, and the kids were already singing (off-key) along in full force (yes, a pun was intended). So that trivial topic of conversation had ended… or so I had thought.
A few weeks later, when I had pulled the CD out for a listen in the car, I discovered that Namiko, with the assistance of a Sharpee, decided to have the last word…
…and a suggestive one at that.