Last week, I wrote a piece about the odd performances, bleak personal stories and essentially off-putting nature of Christmas music. It's the only genre where you can find beloved child-beaters (Bing Crosby), drug addicts (Judy Garland), country heroes and drug addicts (Johnny Cash), mafia friends (Frank Sinatra), people who you wouldn't even remember without Saturday Night Live sketches (Steve and Edyie) or Simpsons references (Robert Goulet) and yet find all of them giving voice to the nicest and warmest impulses for all of us.
It's basically like spending the night with family. Only family can sing and not sound like shit.
In that piece, I brought up the song, "Baby, It's Cold Outside." I am not the first person to notice that it sounds like "The Date Rape Song." My take on the lyrics was to riff on them and try to modernize them, to make it sound like the unsatisfying but determined plea of one virgin to another virgin, silly but not at all menacing. Days later, a friend got in touch with me and told me that she'd just read the lyrics to my version, the lyrics to the original version and laughed her ass off.
She knew the comparison because she volunteers for RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
(You might recognize the name. It was co-founded by Tori Amos. Recently, hardcore wrestling legend Mick Foley — a.k.a. Cactus Jack, Dude Love, Mankind — donated the proceeds of his most recent book to the non-profit. For those of you who know nothing of Foley, he used to wrestle in Japan in "King of the Deathmatch" bouts, where the ring ropes were literally barbed wire, and where one could throw another wrestler onto boards wired with both barbed wire and C-4. The kind of explosive. None of that was a gimmick, and his torn and charred flesh spoke to that. Nevertheless, the songs that he found beautiful and inspiring enough to gird him for facing matches in which he might have his skin blown off were Tori Amos'. Hence the advocacy, however bizarrely ordained.)
Despite non-celebrity status, my friend was given a full instructional packet. Midway through, without description, were the lyrics to "Baby, It's Cold Outside."
I asked her to fax or scan and send them to me, but unfortunately the lyrics were nothing more than lyrics. My friend received them in the work packet for volunteering for RAINN, but there are no aspects of the document that connect it to RAINN. She offered to fax the cover sheet of the workbook and also a sheet about "coercive phrases," which followed the lyrics to the song, but none of them were connected in terms of titles, numbers or references. If they had any visual connection at all, any proof that they constituted related content, I'd show it. They don't.
For now, you'll have to take my word for it. RAINN — the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network — passes out the lyrics to "Baby, It's Cold Outside" as part of an instructional packet on just the sort of manipulative verbal shit that some people will forever rely on as some kind of excusable prelude to making an unwanted move. It's a carol. It's silly. It's inexcusable as a form of behavior, and good on anyone who insists on emphasizing that.