I think I've got your number

Our apartment is falling down. I'm choosing to find it funny.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Lyrical Ballads

About a month after we moved in this summer, we threw a party. It was named "Gloria! Gloria!" and our invitation was all about raising the roof without waking up the landlady, who lives in the apartment next door to ours. Luckily, our walls are thick: we heard no complaints, and I'd like to think that this is because we actually didn't disturb them.

I can't remember whether we played Laura Branigan's "Gloria!" at the party, but for the rest of the summer it was our theme song. My roommate and I were going through a karaoke phase at the time, and some of my fondest memories from August and September involve the two of us in various bars, belting out the following, incredibly appropriate lyrics. For the sake of readers new to the Gloria T phenomenon, I'd like to perform a close reading. Comments in brackets, as follows:

Gloria, you're always on the run now
Running after somebody, you gotta get him somehow

[To be honest, Gloria has only run after us about the rent once, so the start of the song maybe isn't so apt. But they lie a lot about their background, have mysterious accents, and moved here from Austria in 1952, so we think they might be hiding from some sort of Nazi war crimes tribunal -- "always on the run now" indeed.]

I think you've got to slow down before you start to blow it
I think you're headed for a breakdown, so be careful not to show it

[This is clearly a reference to her constant threat "You want to make me have heart attack?" which is an all-purpose response to such questions as "Can we do something about the brown stuff coming through the bathroom ceiling?" and "Why do I need to consult with you every time I want to take a shower?"]

You really don't remember, was it something that he said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?
Gloria, don't you think you're fallin'?
If everybody wants you, why isn't anybody callin'?

[Yesterday, in a discussion about our building's lack of heat, we told Gloria that she had fifteen apartments full of angry tenants. She replied, "So let them all move out!" We asked if she really wanted her entire building to empty itself, and she said, "I find new tenants! This is nice building! Easy to find new tenants!" But babe, if everybody wants you, why are so many of the units in this cheap and lovely pre-war brownstone so often empty? And more importantly, why is everyone always so eager to move out of here?]

You don't have to answer
Leave them hangin' on the line, oh-oh-oh, calling Gloria

[This is a nod to her practice of shouting "Leave me alone!" and hanging up when you call her about maintenance problems]

Gloria (Gloria), I think they got your number (Gloria)
I think they got the alias (Gloria) that you've been living under (Gloria)

[Why did she tell me she was Austrian if she and her husband speak to each other in Ukrainian?]

But you really don't remember, was it something that they said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?

[As in, "Gloria, can you please put the hot water back on? Gloria, why is it so cold in my apartment? Gloria, my ceiling fell in!" Seriously, that's a lot of voices]

A-ha-ha, a-ha-ha, Gloria, how's it gonna go down?
Will you meet him on the main line, or will you catch him on the rebound?
Will you marry for the money, take a lover in the afternoon?
Feel your innocence slipping away, don't believe it's comin' back soon

[Gloria is married to a little old man named Walter. He looks like he died two or three years ago and speaks in a querelous falsetto. Every so often, when you catch him in a the right mood, he's rather charming, but for the most part he's as mean as his wife. Walter sleeps in the basement and pees in a bucket, which we often catch him emptying onto the snow pile in front of our building. Because Gloria doesn't appear to allow him to sleep in her apartment, people have speculated that he isn't really her spouse, but perhaps her brother. And there are those who think he's her brother/spouse, as if they are some sort of evil Babylonian god-couple.]

And you really don't remember, was it something that he said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?
Gloria, don't you think you're fallin'?
If everybody wants you, why isn't anybody callin'?
You don't have to answer
Leave them hangin' on the line, oh-oh-oh, calling Gloria
Gloria (Gloria), I think they got your number (Gloria)
I think they got the alias (Gloria) that you've been living under (Gloria)
But you really don't remember, was it something that they said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?

Are they, Gloria? Are they?


NB: I feel a little weird and morbid adopting poor Laura Branigan's name as my handle on this site. But I don't want to use my own name, and the song is just such a major part of the Gloria mythos. Laura, if you're out there, just know that it's a tribute, not a slander.

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