the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Whether You’re A Mother or Whether You’re a Brother

Maybe it’s because I only ate a rice krispie treat for lunch yesterday, or maybe it’s because of the stiff gin martini I pounded right before dinner — gulped from a proper martini glass, mind you, and not the usual styrofoam cup we’ve had to use to disguise our sin in front of Granny for the last five months — or maybe it’s because I’m just in a really weepy way, but I couldn’t have been more giddy to watch an episode of “American Idol” last night featuring songs by the Bee Gees.

Before you get all up in my business about the Bee Gees, you should know that my parents made sure that I knew who Barry, Robin and Maurice were before I came out of the womb. They were the only records my father owned, plus a couple here and there from Abba and the seminal Anne Murray. And while it would have been so much cooler had I grown up listening to The Stones or Zeppelin or anything featuring men who don’t sing like women, I can’t say that I have any hard feelings about my Bee Gees upbringing, or the resultant 20-yr crush I’ve had on skinny, bearded men.

My father’s favorite Bee Gees song was “Nights on Broadway,” and he used to set the needle specifically to that point in the record to serenade his Saturday afternoon chores. I can remember those afternoons distinctly, because I loved it when he blamed it all on the nights on Broadway, and because he usually did his chores dressed in nothing but plaid shorts, the top to his white Heavenly Underwear, and a pair of mid-calf black socks. My favorite part was when he’d drop whatever he was doing as the song got to the chorus, scrunch his forehead like he had been kicked in the groin and scream, “BLAMING IT ALL!” For years I couldn’t imagine the enormity of what must have happened on Broadway, something scandalous for sure, because they were blaming everything on that one road. And I couldn’t wait until I could grow up and blame it ALL on Broadway, too.

My sister took her Bee Gees upbringing VERY SERIOUSLY and has instilled in her own five children a love for everything Brothers Gibb. Her 5-yr old son knows every word to “Jive Talking,” and the twin 2-yr old boys go nuts when they hear the first notes of “Stayin’ Alive.” I don’t know whether this is frightening or precious, but if you knew my sister this would seem perfectly normal. Of course, it’s perfectly normal for the twin 2-yr old boys to take off their diapers and poop standing up in the middle of the living room.

I personally prefer the early Bee Gees, songs like “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You,” “I Started a Joke,” and “New York Mining Disaster 1941.” I like to think that this redeems me somewhat because I’m obviously keeping it real, appreciating their work before they went mainstream, even though I wasn’t alive when that happened. I do, however, have a soft spot in my heart for the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever which I played over and over in my car on the trip to and from high school. While other kids my age were listening to Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, I was blasting “How Deep is Your Love” and pining over imaginary relationships with men in white leisure suits.

Today I’m going to finish painting the back room, and instead of listening to the new CDs I bought yesterday in a storming hormonal freakout I’m going to dig out The Bee Gees Greatest Hits and a pair of black socks to get me cracking. Chuck should be barking in falsetto in no time.

  • April

    2003/05/07 at 8:04 am

    Bee Gees, huh? That’s a mighty big confession there. Very brave of you.

  • Tremorr

    2003/05/07 at 8:05 am

    You can’t escape them, either. The Bee Gee’s and Barry Gibb are everywhere as producers and songwriters, too. That was one of the great ironies of the bee gee’s backlash! people stopped buying their albums but couldn’t get enough of their music, whether it was sung by Streisand or Dolly Parton. I think they did a lot of the music on the Grease sound track, too.

  • allisonic

    2003/05/07 at 8:06 am

    Yes! Glad i’m not the only one. My parents lived Saturday Night Fever and I have fond memories of that soundtrack.
    Particularly, “How deep is your love?”

  • Jason

    2003/05/07 at 8:15 am

    Dooce, I can completely relate. I have to admit that when I was a kid, I actually sat in front of the TV during Saturday Night Fever’s network premiere with a lunchbox sized tape recorder. It took three 60 minute tapes to get it all. And April – I must say that I don’t think it’s a brave admission at all, I think it gives Dooce an even sexier (if you will) mystique (if you will). Nothing to be ashamed of there – it’s retro, yo.

  • melissa

    2003/05/07 at 8:16 am

    Man, how I love the Bee Gee’s. Because you wondered what my exact reation was: I thought it was a fabulous American Idol theme, but felt it was a major cop-out for Scrunchy-Face to sing “Grease”. Come on! There’s too much brilliance in the Gibb song catalog to go with “Grease”.

  • alex

    2003/05/07 at 8:19 am

    It’s not how deep your love is that matters, but how far you fall into it.

  • bearcub

    2003/05/07 at 8:25 am

    >>it’s perfectly normal for the twin 2-yr old boys to take off their diapers and poop standing up in the middle of the living room.

    No. Please say it ain’t so. For real?

  • Summer

    2003/05/07 at 8:25 am

    I love the Bee Gees and I’m not afraid to admit it.

    I was alive when SNF came out and argued with my babysitter that disco did indeed not suck and that she and Supertramp could take a hike (even though I secretly liked them too). My kids know lots of their songs. They also know the Eagles, The Beatles, and Abba. I love it, those were things my parents cleaned house to.

    I think my personal Bee Gee’s fave for housework is “You should be dancin”.

    “Whatchya doin’ on your back? Whatchya doin’ on your back? You should be daaancin’, Yeah!”

  • alex

    2003/05/07 at 8:25 am

    You know, I should give up being an English teacher. I obviously have a promising career awaiting me in the fortune cookie writing field.

  • dayment

    2003/05/07 at 8:27 am

    Ummm… hormonal freakout?
    In a really weepy way?
    Are these hints?

  • s00ka

    2003/05/07 at 8:28 am

    girl. i only wish. all throughout my early grade school years, i knew all the words and all the moves to my donny and marie osmund albums. that’s just sick.

  • dayment

    2003/05/07 at 8:28 am

    ….because I wouldn’t recommend strong gin martinis. I’m just sayin’

  • Angelique

    2003/05/07 at 8:29 am

    Oh i hear ya.
    my achilles heal?
    dean martin and louis prima.
    i had to secretly enjoy these icons in my room alone so my mom didnt hear,and never mention them tto my fellow tattooed and pierced classmates. yeah, it would have gone over well to play dean and louis on the way to see danzig. my mom was of the freebird era and couldnt stand that “oldie shit”. to this day, i can’t cook a meal just the same as if i have dean belting out a seranade to me. as for The Bees, no one else could look as damned nummy as those guys in skin tight white polyester.

  • Yahmdallah

    2003/05/07 at 8:30 am

    I hope your hits compilation includes “Tragedy.” That’s a great one to make up your own words to during the chorus. “Tragedy! When your _____ falls off and you can go on, it’s Tragedy!”

  • dooce

    2003/05/07 at 8:33 am

    dayment: it’s a hint that my body is adjusting after many many many years on a daily hormone regimen known as The Pill. no one told me it would be like this.

  • Jay

    2003/05/07 at 8:36 am

    I can’t say that I’ve never cleaned the apartment with Abba – Gold blaring on the stereo. I also can’t say that I didn’t know “Super Trooper” made scrubbing the bathroom sink seem like the most important thing I’d ever done. So, far be it from me to say anything about your Bee Gees.

  • Kyle

    2003/05/07 at 8:40 am

    I admit I was a late-Bee Gees-bloomer, but that doesn’t make the experience any less fabuloso. They’re great.
    P.S. I promise not to sing “More than a woman” to Chuck.

  • christine

    2003/05/07 at 8:45 am

    I, too was so excited last night during AI. My husband just doesn’t get my love affair with the BeeGees. He only knows them as the Saturday Night Fever band. I’m going to pull out my record player and albums (in the spare bedroom with all of our unpacked boxes from 5 years ago) and play “Holiday” for him. That’s one of my favorites. Ahhhhhhh.

  • april (apparently, the other one)

    2003/05/07 at 8:51 am

    I’m quite impressed with the Bee Gees. Ditto for the Monkees (thanks, Nick at Nite). My father, on the other, listened to total artists. Both crap. Ronnie Milsap and the Beach Boys. I understand the Beach Boys are very significant, and really aren’t crap, but YOU listen to the Beach Boys In Concert for 6 straight hours on a van’s cassette player at age 11 and see if you can ever rectify that first impression. On the other hand, whenever I hear “Stranger in My House”, I still end up singing it under my breath.

  • april

    2003/05/07 at 8:53 am

    CORRECTION: …a total of two artists…

    I get excited when I type.

  • Paula

    2003/05/07 at 9:04 am

    See, I just listened to the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack three days ago while scrubbing the toilet. The Abba Greatest Hits CD was next in line and then to redeem myself, I played The Pixies.

    But really, if you want justification for why the Bee Gees can maybe be considered titans of an era, you need to watch the VH-1 special “Saturday Night Fever: Behind the Movie” (yes, it’s true, they now have a Behind the Movie series). I couldn’t tear myself away. Hehehe.

  • christine

    2003/05/07 at 9:36 am

    Thanks, dooce…now I’m all weepy, too. Had to jump over to and buy the greatest hits cd. Can’t wait to hear “Nights On Broadway” again. Can’t get it out of my head now…

  • aubs

    2003/05/07 at 9:36 am

    I’m completely obsessed with the Barry Gibb/Barbra Streisand duet “What Kind of Fool” and have been known to sing it, off-key, of course, on various answering machines. Including my Mom’s. At late hours. After quite a few stiff drinks.

  • April

    2003/05/07 at 9:37 am

    Jason, I grew up listening to a lot of the artists mentioned here, but I have a hard time confessing that, as I’m not brave enough to reveal my taste in music, lest someone make a judgment on me based on that. So yes, even though you don’t think it’s a brave admission to make, I think it’s brave anyway. Especially if you’re the first person online to admit to liking the Bee Gees.

  • Erica

    2003/05/07 at 9:39 am

    I can’t really hop on the Bee Gees love train, but I will just state that Clay really needs to not do that hip twitching thing again.

  • Chris

    2003/05/07 at 9:41 am

    seminal Anne Murray
    seminal Anne Murray
    seminal Anne Murray

  • chorizo

    2003/05/07 at 10:01 am

    First Album I Ever Bought With My Very Own Money: Spirits Having Flown.

    Of course there were long periods in my life where that record (yes, vinyl) hid in a box in the back of the closet, but I still have it. mmmmmmmm.

  • andrew

    2003/05/07 at 10:38 am

    i was watching a korean action film about a year ago, and the song “holiday” came on, and i thought, wow, who is that? some new young brit band? i had no idea about the early bee gees. i tracked that song down and then found the Greatest Hits with “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You,” “I Started a Joke,” and “New York Mining Disaster 1941″ on it. and now it’s parked on my turntable. so great.

  • dj blurb

    2003/05/07 at 10:47 am

    Don’t be hatin on Clay. He doesn’t know he’s gay. Yet.

  • lordgoon

    2003/05/07 at 11:05 am

    My god, is loving the Bee Gees really still the sort of thing that one can only whisper shamefacedly in a confessional? Are we really still mired in the ‘Disco Sucks’ phase of our culture that bolstered the careers of such luminaries as Triumph, Ted Nugent and ‘Beatlemania’? These are beautiful songs, people! Comparisons with Gershwin and Robert Johnson and Dylan and Lennnon/McCartney would not be hyperbole, here. So what if they all sang like a bunch of girly-men?

  • losir

    2003/05/07 at 12:21 pm

    Ah, Anne Mrray. My Dad had her incessantly on the car rotation that I grew up with this twitch in my left eyebrow each time her name is mentioned.


  • Anne

    2003/05/07 at 12:25 pm

    Dooce, I just went off The Pill, too, and boy does it suck almighty. As for music…I grew up with ONLY Anne Murray. She had some twisted kids’ song about hippos in the bathtub or something that sticks in my head at the wrong times. BeeGees would be better.

  • antisocial diva

    2003/05/07 at 12:37 pm

    i had their greatest hits on tape. boy, was i bummed when i tried to dig out their cd in anticipation of last night’s idol episode only to find that i sold it with the rest of my tapes at a yard sale and NEVER HAD IT ON CD to fucking begin with. *sigh*

  • joy

    2003/05/07 at 12:38 pm

    Chuck singing in falsetto? That reminds me of the two dogs next door to me. Not only do they sing in falsetto, they sing in harmony with little connotations as well! It’s hilarious. It figures though, their master is a music teacher for the local school district.

  • kate

    2003/05/07 at 12:38 pm

    the problem with the hip-twitching isn’t clay, it’s ryan, who reacts to it like girls reacted to justin timberlake circa 1999.

  • anamika

    2003/05/07 at 12:53 pm

    i found these martini glasses at the liquor store where i buy my lunch (what?), they were nice and petite, one had those retro orange stars and the other had green not-quite-polka dots all in a row vertical up the sides. they were lovely.
    also, old Bee Gees, the mod-garage they did out of Australia was really fun. they’ve got chops, anyway.

  • Wilber

    2003/05/07 at 1:02 pm

    Nights. On. Broadway.

    Read that and immediately had to load my Bee Gees playlist for this afternoon’s listening pleasure. I gotta go with your father on this one. My fave out of many good ones.

    And RIP Maurice.

  • Beth

    2003/05/07 at 1:16 pm

    When I was 19, I got a job working at a bank in my hometown. I had to clean out a load of crap in the basement, and one day in the bottom of a box, I came across something amazing. A spial bound Andy Gibb notebook. I snuck it home with me, and it’s still in my mom’s house in a little plastic bag. He was in a white leisure suit. So fine!

  • Beth

    2003/05/07 at 1:19 pm

    Der. I can type. SPIRAL. SPIRAL bound.

  • chorizo

    2003/05/07 at 1:43 pm

    I kind of like the thought that in 30 years, kids of today will be having happy nostalgic memories of the watching mom and dad slow dance in the living room to Badly Drawn Boy.

  • chorizo

    2003/05/07 at 1:45 pm

    …conversely, he realized, they could also be blushingly admitting that they were totally hooked on N’Sync and in the privacy of their own homes still like pull out those vintage CD things to do housework….

  • The Inmate

    2003/05/07 at 1:49 pm

    I can relate somewhat. My dad used to work for Volvo while I was growing up. After a few trips to Sweden, our glass windows at home rattled to the infectious scandinavian sound. I’m sure if I had ever had a sister, her name would have been Agnetha.

  • Ilyka

    2003/05/07 at 2:02 pm

    Dooce: Blazing a Trail out of the Bee Gees Closet for us all. Rock ON. If I can live down the shame of knowing I saved my meager $0.25/week allowance for, like, forever, until I had the grand sum of $4.75 and my father took pity on me and chipped in the remainder, just so that the very first album I ever bought with my own money could be the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, anyone can. And the older I get the more I get to be almost proud of that. I’m so glad now I didn’t melt those records down when I was a teenager and thought I was So Punk and all that. You can clean house to Nirvana. But it’s not the same.

  • dayment

    2003/05/07 at 2:22 pm

    Ahhh Dooce. I remember the joys of natural hormones after nine years of Pilldom. Suddenly I had pre-pubescent acne and bouts of Crying About Nothing once a month. It took a few months to figure out.
    And I had Captain and Tenille and Neil Sedaka. I’m not complaining – we were in Indiana and the kids thought my mom was cool with Captain and Tenille and Neil Sedaka!
    Yeah! Rock!

  • PJ

    2003/05/07 at 2:22 pm

    I find most of life goes better with a soundtrack.
    Mine alternate between Phantom of the Opera / Hall & Oates / and Camelot, as well others equally as dorky.

    I also agree with the Husband about Clay. He (Clay, that is) gets points, however, for the sparly eyes. Unfortunately, those points are subtracted for his humongoid feet.

  • eddeaux

    2003/05/07 at 2:56 pm

    Well, I knew only part of the songs that were sung, but I love AI nonetheless. I think Clay looks like a troll doll and I just want to pick him up and spin him real fast in my hands and make that hair of his stick up.

    I also want to point out that Josh should be gone instead of Trenyce and the only thing keepin him on the show is either his Madonna Gap Teeth, or the fact that he is a Marine. Semper Fi.

  • bdk&e

    2003/05/07 at 3:05 pm

    Okay, whether my oldest sister will admit this or not she listened to first the Bee Gee’s and then Led Zeppelin. — Nonetheless I thankfully grew up with both.

  • jess

    2003/05/07 at 3:17 pm

    “I Started a Joke” has got to be one of the greatest songs ever. That and “Words”.

  • the mighty jimbo

    2003/05/07 at 4:24 pm

    so should i be ashamed to admit that i have a not so secret fantasy to take over the dance floor a la john travolta if “you should be dancing” ever gets played?

    only without the whole russian leg kick thing and the arm wiggle. cause that’s pretty lame – even for jt.

  • Lorelei

    2003/05/07 at 5:45 pm

    Yes, the Bee Gees rock everyone’s socks. My favourite song of theirs is “New York Mining Disaster 1941”. My earliest memory is of a spring day and “Too Much Heaven” on the radio.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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