I was in the kitchen listening to my folk Pandora station and cooking dinner. (A tip from me to you: if you ever think to yourself, "I know! I will shred the summer squash and the fennel and some carrots in the food processor, and cook them in a little butter and a little wine with a little squeeze of something citrusy before I add the garlicky lentils from yesterday to the pan" -- if you ever think that thought to yourself, be sure to say, "No, self, Jamie Gladly did that and most of her family thought it was weird and unpleasant.") Simon & Garfunkel's The Boxer came on, and I was singing along. Elwood was in the dining room, trying to squeak out a Words With Friends victory against our pastor. Joe was sitting at the dining room table, working on his online algebra 2 course.
When the third verse started, I was mindful of Joe's presence. (If your Simon & Garfunkel lyric retrieval is rusty, you should be able to see the relevant lines when you mouse over the link.) I didn't sing about any whores on Seventh Avenue. I sang, "I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome I went to confession instead."
Elwood looked up from WWF. "What?" he wanted to know. "What are you singing?"
I left the destined-for-weirdness veggie saute to do its thing on the stove. "I'm offering an alternative version of the story, in which the narrator does not seek any ill-advised comfort," I told him. He looked blank. "That's not what it means," he insisted. "The comfort is the come-on. He's so lonely that he finds it comforting when the women find him attractive."
Definitely not, I said. The comfort happens when he buys what they're selling.
Definitely not, he said. He can't afford to buy what they're selling. He's just glad to know that they'd like to sell it to him.
You guys, I've been listening to that song since I was in junior high and I never once thought that the comfort in question was anything other than a sordid transaction. My husband has been listening to that song for at least as long and he never once thought that a sordid transaction took place.
What say you?