On brushing twice a day and other phenomena.
In 1994, Mötley Crüe released its only ever studio album absent singer Vince Neil and present singer John Corabi, a self-titled album that I'm unreasonably confident was intended to signify a new Vince Neil-less beginning for the band.
Stay with me.
The fourth track on the album is the song "Misunderstood": a formulaic power ballad with a semi-acoustic intro–verse–chorus–verse–chorus cocktail that eventually erupts into a hard-rocking crescendo.
I mean, you've already made it this far. So you might as well just see this whole thing through.
I couldn't actually remember the album's title or the year it was released. I also couldn't remember "Misunderstood"'s track number. I had to look these things up. I do, however, remember some of the lyrics to the song, which I have not listened to since probably 1995. Here's what I remember:
Little old man
Twice a day
Life's passed him by
Little old woman
Scared and blind
In desperate times
Life's passed her by
[Something, something, something]
[Something, something, something]
Okay. I've now re-listened to the song. What I remembered was correct. And, as it turns out, there's also an "Ohhhhhh..." part that begins each of the choruses in the [something, something, something] parts that I kind of remembered but, alas, didn't type.
I bring this all up because I've been singing 1–2 of those “Misunderstood” stanzas in my head pretty regularly for a while now. Months or years, I honestly do not know. But it's definitely been a long while. That said, I didn't notice until a few weeks ago that a certain series of actions was particularly consistent in triggering my mental singing of this song: brushing my teeth and flossing (also my teeth).
It's like clockwork: I put my toothbrush down; then, as I'm reaching for the floss, my brain reaches way back and presses play. As soon as I recognized the pattern, its cause also became apparent: the brush–floss action functions as a notification to my brain, which prompts it to (a) retrieve the phrase "twice a day" and (b) plug that phrase into a simultaneously retrieved lyric from a Mötley Crüe song that I haven't (or hadn't until today) listened to in roughly 26 years.
I found this kind of fascinating (in a "Wow, look at how complex and stupid my brain can be at once!" kind of way). But not so fascinating that anyone should ever have to read as much about it as you just have. But then I was washing dishes today, and for some reason, I was reminded of the brush–floss–Mötley Crüe–"Misunderstood" connection, only I couldn't remember which song it is that keeps coming to mind. I vaguely recalled that this all had something to do with the word "twice," and for a minute I thought that the song in question might have been Great White's cover of "Once Bitten, Twice Shy." But no, that didn't seem right. "Twice" on its own isn't enough to connect anything worthwhile together. It must have been some other song.
Eventually, it came to me. And when it did, I was doubly fascinated—this time by the struggle to actively retrieve this thing that so readily and repeatedly comes to me on its own. And it struck me that this bizarre space we all occupy, or that occupies us—consciousness, namely—is the same one that our lives and identities emerge without exception from, often without our even noticing, both in minute-to-minute increments and in individual lifelong formations.
All of our struggles, all of our triumphs, all of our nonsense and beauty and magic—these are all just amalgams of our ceaseless small, dull, often unnoticed single-unit thoughts, which some would argue quite convincingly we do not even make, but which instead merely pass through us, like detritus from amalgams of past single-unit thoughts from amalgams of past detritus—everything working in (divergent) concert to keep us all turning in this weird and lovely movement we humans call living, and loving, and thinking, and reasoning, and suffering, among infinite other names.
Okay. There. Go in peace now.