Shackles of Youth

Sometimes it’s the little things that kill the buzz. This time it’s a killer buzz. Somewhere in the neighbourhood, a high-powered saw is cutting through metal. Pipes?

“Fuuuhck! That noise!”

The sudden interjection surprises Jack and Jill. The synchronised head swivel another symptom of their coupledom. “Dude, it’s just background music.”

Reflexively he cocks his head to hear what is playing. It only makes him more aware of the sound.  “The construction. The hum.” The noise is creating a short-circuit; He struggles to speak in sentences.

Jill, short for Gillian, says she can barely hear it.

“I can’t hear it at all and you’re not listening. What do you think about ‘Jake’?” They’re tired of the jokes about water buckets.

“Sure. But habit. Call you Jack. It better stop soon.” He wants to run away. He puts his pinkies in his ears, popping them.

“They sound very similar. Most people wont notice.” Jack/Jake is happy with himself. He’s thought this through.

Now, it’s Jill’s turn to smile smugly. “Hey Ken, that noise that seems to bug only you is the answer to the question.”

“Question?”

“What’s the frequency?”

“What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
I was brain-dead, locked out, numb, not up to speed
I thought I’d pegged you an idiot’s dream
Tunnel vision from the outsider’s screen
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh

I’d studied your cartoons, radio, music, TV, movies, magazines
Richard said, “Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy”
A smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
“What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
Butterfly decal, rear-view mirror, dogging the scene
You smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh

You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand
You said that irony was the shackles of youth, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I couldn’t understand
I never understood, don’t fuck with me, uh-huh — R.E.M., “What’s The Frequency Kenneth?”, Monster (1994)

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