Writing Wrongs

January 21, 2006

The other day, I was pumping gas, while the insidious sounds of Lite FM was pumped into my head, the classic Dolly Parton hit, Two Doors Down. And it got stuck in my head. All. Day. Long.

So I was wondering. Was it really as bad as I remembered it or just a bit of kitsch from the 1970s? For the sake of public service--because we’re all about public service here at Writing Wrongs--I decided to analyze it. Using the Hero’s Journey.

Two doors down
They're laughing and drinkin', and having a party
Two doors down
They're not aware that I'm around

Cause here I am
Crying my heart out, feelin' sorry while
They're having a party two doors down

What we have here, in the classic Hero’s Journey structure, is the ordinary world. This is the equivalent to the planet Tatooine in Star Wars (the first, as in the original, first Star Wars. Don’t give me this Phantom Menace crap. Oh, and Han shot first, dammit).

This is our heroine’s every day life, and yes, it does seem to be pretty crappy. Two doors down, people are having fun. She is not. We know she probably lives in a crappy apartment, since she can hear the people two doors down having fun. Thin walls and what have you. We surmise that she’s alone and heartbroken. We’ve all been there. We sympathize. So far so good.

I think I'll dry these useless tears
And get myself together
I think I'll wonder down the hall
And have a look around
'Cause I can't stay inside
This lonely room and cry forever
I think I really rather join 'em
Two door down, yeah

Ah, ha. The call to adventure! She’s going to dry her tears and walk down the hall and cross the threshold into the special world of the party. She’s spunky. We like her.

'Cause here I am
No longer cryin' an' feelin' sorry
We're having a party just two doors down

Fully entrenched in the special world now. Here we’ll meet enemies and allies, shape shifters (no, not real ones, but love interests, friends who appear to be enemies, enemies pretending to be friends). She’ll be tested. She must proceed with caution.

I can't believe I'm standin' here
Dry-eyed, all smiles and talkin'
Making conversation with the new love I have found

Definite shape shifter territory here. We may even be approaching the inmost cave, the ordeal, in Hero’s Journey jargon. She stands at the edge of a most dangerous place.

I ask him if he'd like to be alone and we start walkin'
Down the hall to my place waitin' two doors down, yeah

Well, that’s one way to approach the inmost cave. I’m starting to wonder what the supreme ordeal and the reward, also known as seizing the sword may entail. I’m hesitant to ask.

'Cause here I am
Feelin' everything but sorry
We're having our own party two doors down

Since this is a song, I suppose it’s too much to ask that all the Hero’s Journey stages be accounted for. After all, our heroine didn’t meet with a mentor, but ended up at that party on her own. Still, I sense something missing. Something important.

Now it’s not what she’s doing that I have issue with. It’s nice she has a friend, this so-called “new love” of hers. And what two consenting adults do in the privacy of the bedroom, blah, blah, blah, and all that.

Let’s look at the very last stage of the hero’s journey:

The hero Returns to the Ordinary World, but the journey is meaningless unless she brings back some Elixir, treasure, or lesson from the Special World.

Ah ha! Well, she’s certainly returned to the ordinary world, but let’s take a peek at the first stanza, shall we? How many of you think what’s happening there was precipitated by a similar situation to what’s happening now?

I thought so. Oh, sure, she’ll probably get a modicum of elixir, right after she seizes that sword, but has she learned anything?

Of course she hasn’t. What sort of treasure can she bring back? Unless it starts with venereal and ends with disease, I’m thinking not much. Herein lies the tragedy. It’s a sad, sad situation, if you dwell on it. And you probably will since the song will be stuck in your head. All. Day. Long. Never mind 50 Cent, we need to stick a big old advisory sticker on this thing. Lite FM, indeed. Insidious, I tell you. Insidious.

And Han shot first, dammit.

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 9:11 a.m.