Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Paradogs

Emily and I spent this past weekend moving. And you probably know that—as you’re packing & unpacking boxes, lifting light & heavy things, sliding furniture across the floor, driving back and forth from one house to the next—you have a lot of time to think.

At some random point during our move, Emily began to sing the Oscar Meyer song (I suspect either because it appears in an episode of the Simpsons, or else because she was hungry—I’m not sure which). I didn’t pay very close attention to her singing it in the moment, but of course the diddy got stuck in my head.

As I listened to the song playing on loop in my mind, I realized something about the lyrics:

It’s a paradox.

I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener
That is what I’d truly like to be
‘Cause if I were an Oscar Meyer wiener
Everyone would want to be like me

Think about it. Break it down logically:

1) Everyone wants what I want
2) I want X
3) Therefore everyone wants X

Those first three steps are fine so far as they go (aside from the fact that they hint at a rather ego-centric, imaginary-audience issue in the singer), but the song specifically mentions a fourth step that really throws a wrench in the works. The word ‘cause at the beginning of the third line is vital here, and makes the meaning:

4) I only want X because everyone wants X

The question is: If he didn’t want to be an Oscar Meyer wiener, would anyone else want to be one? And, if nobody else wanted to be one, would he want to be one?

It’s a closed loop. A paradox. A chicken-or-egg scenario.

I have to wonder: Did the writer/singer of this song intend to create a paradox, or did he accidentally trip into this cosmic, mind-blowing, paradoxical force simply by having self-esteem issues (ironically coupled with imaginary-audience issues)?

After thinking through the grand paradox that is this song—and realizing that surely I must be one step closer to unlocking the mystery of the universe, all because of a hot dog—Emily kindly informed me that I am remembering the lyrics to the song incorrectly. Rather than the last line being: “Everyone would want to be like me,” rather, I’m told, the line is actually: “Everyone would be in love with me.”

That makes much more sense.

It turns out the writer simply has self-esteem issues.

How disappointing.

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