Earlier this fall, homecoming weekend descended upon my household and two high school-aged daughters, Molly and Hope. While they primped and preened, one of my favorite songs, “Signs” by Five Man Electrical Band, played on the stereo.
You recall the ballad – “sign, sign, everywhere a sign, blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind” – a classic from an era when musicians succeeded in spite of their hair rather than because of it. I cannot think of a more fitting song to hear as my daughters got gussied up for the dance.
I say fitting because as the girls made clear, “the ask” now must be done by way of a handmade sign. I’m not entirely sure how I missed this phenomenon. Just in case I’m not alone, breaking news to Generation X: Will you go with me, the spoken romantic syntax of our adolescence, is no longer sufficient to seal courtship.
No, what’s old is new again, and once more the medium is the message. By this I mean the ask is made with its life on social media foremost in mind. In this milieu, creative content is king.
My discovery begged a follow-up question, an inquiry the girls should have expected, no less than if they wore face-paint to a funeral. I asked Hope whether a suitor could simply write on an otherwise unadorned sign “Will You Go To The Dance With Me?”.
She thought about it for a moment and said yes, but only if done ironically. To her knowledge, though, this has never been tried, social media being notoriously bad at distinguishing between the ironically executed and the lazily phoned-in.
While this seems precisely backwards to me — thinking of the memory in the moment rather than the moment in the memory — I won’t, as they say in the bond market, fight the Fed. Instead, I embrace the change, asking only this: Why stop there? Why just dances, and just for kids?
What follows are ten proposed handmade signs for adult situations, where a reader like me might conclude signage would help take his beloved’s mind off the present, unpleasant moment.
• Purchasing A Mechanical Bull Is Frivolous, I Agree. That’s Why I Leased It.
• I Prefer Thinking Of It As Breakfast In Bed I Forgot To Tell You About.
• Life’s Too Short To Fight Over Who’s Been Using Whose Toothbrush.
• I Read Thai Food Gives Some Men Night-Terrors/Are You Getting Enough Sleep, My Love?
• I See Now How Making It To Back-To-School Night Only In Spirit Doesn’t Count.
• Car’s In The Driveway With My Heart Full Of Gratitude But Your Tank Empty Of Gas.
• Let’s Not Quarrel Over Who Invited Whose Out-Of-Town Fraternity Brothers For The Long Weekend.
• Hate To Wake You, My Sweet, But Where Is Our Fire Extinguisher?
• Guess I Just Assumed You’d Like The “La Cucaracha” Doorbell Ringtone As Much As I Did.
• You Were Right, Honey: That Toilet Definitely Needed Plunging.
I won’t incriminate myself by admitting which situations were inspired by actual events in our household. But if I can stave off just one lovers’ quarrel, my sign for the occasion will be a simple one: You’re Welcome.