Remember the Goofy Gophers cartoon characters?
Let me jog your memory. Created by Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes, their names were Mac and Tosh. They had light brown bellies and protruding teeth, and they were unfailingly polite, to the point of absurdity.
For example, Mac and Tosh would stand together at door and argue endlessly.
"Please, you go first," Mac would say.
"No, by all means, you go first," Tosh would respond.
My 13-year-old son and I are like the Goofy Gophers. Sometimes we get stuck inside a repeating loop of polite impulses.
Last Saturday morning, I drove him to the Home Depot in Cleveland, Tennessee, to pick up a table saw we had put on hold the night before.
On the drive back home, we both agreed some music would be nice.
"You can turn the radio on Hits 1," I said, referring to his favorite satellite radio station. It plays what my generation used to call Top 40 radio with music from artists like Halsey and the Jonas Brothers.
"No, why don't we play some music you like," he said. "It's the least I can do, since you drove me all the way to Cleveland to get the table saw."
"Well, that's nice," I said. "But I don't have any of my music here. So you listen to your favorites."
"Listen, Dad," he said. "You pick a song, and I'll find it. OK?"
"OK, 'Brick House' by the Commodores," I blurted.
"Brick what?" he inquired.
"House. Brick house," I said.
A little-known fact about me is that I'm a fan of funk and R&B music. From James Brown to Bruno Mars, syncopation gives me palpitations.
So, as I started bobbing my head and drumming on the steering wheel to "Brick House," my son looked at me as if I was drunk.
But even a Gen Z kid, like him, is not immune to an infectious beat. By the second time through the hook, he was singing, too. "Aw, she's a brick (dah-dee-dum-dum) HOUSE!," he bellowed.
This amused me to no end. I am sure the "brick house" metaphor was quite over his head, but he didn't inquire and I didn't offer.
Over the next 30 minutes, I took him on a musical journey. As soon as one song would end, I would bark out another title and begin singing along. As a baby boomer, it still amazes me that you can just speak the name of a song into a smartphone and within seconds it's booming through the speakers.
After "Brick House," I ordered up Michael Jackson's "Dancing Machine." ("She's a dance, dance, dance, dance, dancin' machine; Watch her get down, watch her get down.")
Then, Stevie Wonder's "I Wish." ("Looking back on when I, was a little nappy-headed boy. Then my only worry, was for Christmas what would be my toy?")
Next, I asked for Tower of Power's "What Is Hip?" ("What is hip? Tell me, tell me if you think you know.")
After that, I requested The Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow." ("Gotta get that: boom, boom, pow. That boom, boom, pow.")
And finally I demanded "Uptown Funk" featuring Bruno Mars. (Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent; Got (to) kiss myself, I'm so pretty.")
By the time we were back in Chattanooga, I was exhausted from all the twitching and toe tapping and air drumming.
"So, what did you think of that?" I asked my son expectantly, wiping a bead of sweat from my forehead.
He looked at me, rolled his eyes and put his headphones back on.
Sometimes the most polite thing to say is to say nothing at all.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6645.