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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Let It Roll


Last weekend, Andrea and I were in the car together while running errands and a Van Halen song was playing in the background. 

“Are they saying ‘Panama’ or ‘Animal’?”  Andrea asked.

“They’re saying, ‘Let it roll’.” I replied with confidence.

Andrea, who had a right to be dubious of my interpretation of musical lyrics, pulled out her iPhone and looked up the song, which is actually titled Panama. So, turns out, they were saying Panama.  Which honestly, if you listen to the lyrics makes absolutely no sense to me.  Even Animal would have made more sense. 

I stared at Andrea’s iPhone, dumbfounded, and asked what year “Panama” was from.

“1984.” Andrea replied.

“Do you know what this means?  It means I’ve misheard this goddamn song for 34 years!” I replied, irrationally enraged at Van Halen over his choice of lyrics, which, I later learned were referring to a car. 

I was 10 in 1984, so I will cut myself some slack but this was after I’d had tubes in my ears and my hearing had improved.  Which really makes me wonder what I would have heard before? This is not my first lyrics misinterpretation and certainly will not be my last.  For years I thought Fatboy Slim was singing, “Funk so rubber.”  Once I knew he was actually saying, “Funk Soul Brother” things made a lot more sense.  But Panama?!  This did not make more sense to me.  I felt betrayed by David Lee Roth and his Van Halen pals.  Like what else had I believed to be true about them and, come to find out, was way off base.  I perplexed over “Panama” more than I care to admit. I mean, Let It Roll, would sound better and make more sense.

You know what’s even worse than misunderstanding lyrics?  Misunderstanding people.  Believing and interpreting a friend to be one thing, and then realizing that wasn’t really the case at all.  Maybe this happened because you saw potential in them to be something more than they really were and they couldn’t be that/had no interest in it.  Or maybe you believed something about them that was never true…. Let it roll.  Clearly, I have thought about this too more than I care to admit.

People change, relationships evolve and sometimes fall away with little explanation.  Someone I know (very well, in fact) was recently invited to a party.  And they knew that a couple they’d once been quite close to was invited as well.  Inexplicably, this couple had stopped communicating with this other person (who, for the sake of this post, we’ll call Grace).  Grace hadn’t heard from them in quite some time and now, here they were, invited to the same event which, understandably made Grace feel a bit uncertain - - wondering what it would be like.  And, essentially, what it was like, was as if the two were mere acquaintances who had not shared a history of conversations and adventures for many years.  I can only imagine how long Grace puzzled over this situation. 

Unlike Grace, I sometimes don’t let go as things as easily as I should.  I believe there is a middle ground between Grace’s passivity and my rage, but I haven’t found it yet.  I’ve let relationships go with no discussion or remorse – and the other person clearly did the same.  Other times, I’ve demanded answers that I never got which pissed me off more.  Frankly, I respect a well placed “Fuck off” instead of silence.  “Fuck off” let’s you know where you stand and tells you to stop your dogged pursuit of an answer you’ll never get or one that won’t be satisfactory.  Sometimes, you just have to let it roll.


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