The Human Jukebox

Written by on March 6, 2016

I wouldn’t say I’m easily distracted, but I am known to tune folks out for a few moments in any standard conversation. I tune them out, because I am always tuned in. Tuned in to a running setlist constantly on queue in my brain.

These are the confessions of a human jukebox.

Those people who are less melodically-inclined have a hard time grasping how this phenomenon works, unless they have a similar, functional language equivalent at play in their own lives. At play. See how easily this happens? I can be having a perfectly serious, animated conversation with a co-worker over a subject like the declining price of gas in America. While they’re making their next point, something in my brain transitions from gas to oil and the next thing you know, I’m mentally belting out a cheerful rendition of “Slide Some Oil To Me” from The Wiz.

Let me lubricate my miiiiiiiiiiiiiind!

This tendency is quite fun, but exhausting. At all times, I am having at least two conversations percolating about between my ears: the actual topics I’m discussing on the air or in person and the accompanying soundtrack, complete with lyrics, playing as my mental sidebar. I’m surprised that I don’t slip up more often and start singing the soundtrack aloud during my show. Slow talkers and low talkers are in danger of getting preempted by the party in my head.

Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
C’mon…I’m talking to you…C’MON!

I have two very good friends, both Penn alumnae who also sang in my college a cappella group, who join me in this condition. Part blessing, part affliction. (And they’re both Sag women, so I wonder if there’s something deeper at play here.) At any given moment in a group conversation, we’ll break out in a song reference to whatever was just spoken, often in harmony, which really freaks people out. But I don’t get why this is so troubling to other folks. If you can regularly ask Siri for directions, or Cortana to look up some random factoid request and dictate the results back to you, then you shouldn’t be surprised at the rapid relational and singing abilities of us walking, breathing human machines. And you don’t even need a quarter to request a selection.

Don’t cost you nothing, take a chance as you go
Don’t cost you nothing. If you like it, come back for mo’…

So, if you see me at a WURD event sitting in a corner by myself, you might want to wave and keep it moving. There’s a very good chance that I am winding down physically and mentally because I must. Assessing the overall landscape of what is happening in the room, and trying to get the girl group on my inner stage to take their final bow and make a graceful exit. But always sparkling, and grateful for the chance to entertain you.

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