I don’t get metaphors. If I had to point to a reason for this, and it’s my party, I get to make lame excuses when I want, it’s because of the way my brain works. Well, obviously, but what I mean is this: I have synesthesia. This means I’m “someone who automatically activates a second sensory pathway once a first is stimulated”. In the plain English, everything I hear has a color, specific location, and picture in my mind. Days of the week are lined up with the colors of the rainbow. The number 7 is yellow. January is to the far left. If someone says “Albequerque” I picture a pink TV. (Not all the pictures make sense.) This makes navigating daily conversations a bit interesting. It is also part of why discussing intimate relations is difficult for me. BECAUSE I SEE IT. EVERY TIME.
It has its plus side. I can manipulate it to my advantage (though does it really count as manipulation if it’s my own brain?). If I want to remember to do something, and I don’t feel like writing a note, I stare at something I’m going to look at right before I need to do that thing, and repeat the action to myself. Then, I wander off, come back, look at the my bedside lamp and think, “Eat a banana!”. I make my crazy work for me.
So, there I am, with my live-streaming-cartoon mind, listening to a song. I hear the lyrics, I see the pictures, I’m good. It’s about a cake, in the rain, and someone being a little too dramatic about it. I go on living my happy little life, until someone wants to discuss it. Because invariably, they will ask, “What do you think it meant?”. I will shrug my simpleton shoulders and say, “Soggy cake!”, at which point they will laugh mercilessly and cry, “Oh you fool! It’s CLEARLY about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire!”, then I will mumble a feeble, “that was my second guess…” as I shuffle away dejectedly to the sounds of their raucous laughter.
First off, clearly I need to hang out with fewer pompous douchehammers. I’m not here for your amusement, go play Skee Ball. Secondly, it’s just another example of how fascinatingly different people are. I can’t decipher cryptic messages, or pick up on subtle hints, but I can tell you what was said at a meeting 2 years ago, because I see it. You may not understand what I mean at all if I say how I feel is sorta lavender, but you can tell me how different pieces of machinery work together to make an engine run. I can pick out voice actors without reading the credits (I see the way their mouths move and match it with other times I remember seeing those sounds), and you can explain Pink Floyd songs. Or maybe you can’t. I wasn’t picturing us to be super fucking high in this scenario.
(My fragile self-esteem would like me to point out that when a metaphor is explained to me, I do understand it. I can even use them myself! However, it’s a bit of work, and I lose focus very quickly.)
Years of thinking I was dumb because I didn’t get things like this has sort of created a mental block. To say that I love music is putting it mildly, but I can’t tell you why. My feeling of inadequacy over understanding the lyrics spills over into how I feel about the music as a whole. If I don’t even understand why he’ll never find the recipe again, why would my opinion on the dramatic yet soothing crescendo in the last chorus mean anything? Because it’s just that: my opinion. I get to have those. They aren’t right or wrong, silver or red, they’re just there. And what if someone doesn’t agree? Do I have to go live in a cave for the rest of my days? Probably not. Just because my way of thinking may not make sense to them doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Much like I should stop assuming that because my way of thinking is most likely seen as strange, they’re automatically right.
With my newfound sense of wonder and “let’s all just get along!” attitude, I hope that more people can be as fascinated by this as I am. If not that, then at least something more productive than close-minded judgment. Our differences are what make us beautiful. Appreciate them.
I’d also like to say that I am aware that “MacArthur Park” is not about the Roman Empire. Everyone knows it’s about space pirates.