Earlier today, I was painting my room, working up the muse to write an article for later in the week, and jamming to the Frank Sinatra (Christmas) station on Pandora—yes, all at once, and yes, I’m super talented—when I realized something I never noticed before: some of those lyrics to those catchy songs? Very strange. Have you ever had the sensation that all those times you have been listening to something, you were never really listening? And then that moment comes when you listen to it just right and you have a lightbulb moment. That was happening for a solid three hours, where I’d stop mid-paintbrush stroke and realize the strange and peculiar nuances of beloved phrases and notes I’ve long since memorized.
You know, kind of like watching a TV show from your childhood as an adult and seeing a moment that makes you go “WAIT, REALLY?”
Ladies and gents, today we’re going to talk cheery holiday music and the valuable lessons they teach us, whether we know it or not.
1. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
Lesson: charming men can actually be creeps, so follow your instincts.
For starters, the creep factor starts off from the original printed score. Frank Loesser, the composer, first marked the male part as the character “Wolf,” to the female’s “Mouse.” The wolf tries over and over to coerce the mouse into staying at his house instead of going outside and freeze, which is definitely sort of really strange from the start, because what the fuck would a wolf even want with a mouse to begin with unless it was wholly inappropriate?, but the lyrics take and make the stalk-factor so, so high.
Scene: the Wolf and the Mouse are in a house (supposedly his house/his domain/his mancave). They’ve gotten back from a date or some kind of an outing and stopped by his house, when, OH NO! SNOW IN DECEMBER! The weather becomes frightful, the fire is delightful. She’s like “aw, fuck! Gotta get home!” and he’s like, “you’ve got some great gams, dame.”
At the start of the song, he’s complimenting her (“Your eyes are like starlight now/I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell”) and crooning about how she should stay with him, because outside is dreary
and no one will hear her scream (“Baby, it’s bad out there/No cabs to be had out there”), while she stands around sipping on a drink he made for her. Like, sure, okay, I get it. It’s cold outside, and you’re right, I don’t want to be walking outside. Thanks, handsome dude. I’m assuming that the Mouse knows this guy already, because she shouldn’t be accepting alcoholic drinks from strangers or hanging out in their houses otherwise, so it would be like accepting a chance to get out of the snow/rain/snain conditions while she mentally prepares herself for the frigid air. That’s all chill! But here’s where it gets hinky. She’s talking about how she can’t stay because her father and mother are probably flipping shit in worry and stress (how old is this girl, anyway?), how she doesn’t want to stay, and then she utters “say, what’s in this drink?” Go ahead and slip something else into the drink, Wolf, the Mouse is dumb, drugged, and asked for a “half a drink more.” CREEP MISSION COMPLETE.
The second verse follows this pretty closely, with the Wolf commenting about how various parts of her look “delicious” (er…ಠ_ಠ), and the Mouse telling him that “the answer is no,” and how even more members of her family are going to channel the Hunter from Little Red Riding Hood if she doesn’t go home nao. He doesn’t listen, basically threatening her to stay in the warmth with him or she’ll catch her death (“how can you do this to me/think of my long lost sorrow/if you caught pneumonia and died”). After all, she’s hurting his pride with all of the holding out she’s doing. She listens. By the last line of the song she ends up staying, (probably) killed, and ends up on milk cartons around the city. The end.
The whole time the Mouse is trying to resist the charm of the nice guy who just wants her to stay warm with his help (help=his penis). This song is teaching little kids and grownups alike that sometimes super charming/good looking/nice guys can be rapists and/or serial killers, so, if you have an inclination to get the hell out of a situation, you probably should. Instincts are there for a reason. The only problem? The song sounds really, really cheerful and happy, especially when you have famous Italians wiggling their caterpillar eyebrows at you, which definitely muddles the lesson learning.
Effectiveness: 6.5/10. The lesson not to trust “wolves”? Learned. Kind of. It did take me 22 years…..and I still kind of find it romantic/sweet.