Log Cabin Chronicles

ross murray

Spice Girl Grooving

ROSS MURRAY

Call me Rancid Spice.

My journey into Spiceworld began just over a week ago. That was when my eldest, Emily, celebrated her seventh birthday. Work kept me away from the cake and cacophony but I did manage to sneak home at one point. But instead of pin the tail on the donkey, I came home to find the little girl who only six months ago was content to listen to Raffi sing "Bananaphone" now gyrating to some song about getting down - getting "deeper and down" - in the company of other pre-pre-teen moppets in my living room.

That sound you heard was the earth shifting on its axis.

The Spice Girls cassette was a gift from one of the invitees and life has not been the same since. (I know the parents of the child who gave this tape and, more important, I know where they live.)

With collusion by my wife, this introduction was accompanied by a showing that evening (and the next day) of Spiceworld, the British pop group's harmless but painfully mediocre flick in which the girls get to show off their huge talents and cultural assets.

Since then, it has been a non-stop Spice-fest around here.

"I like Baby best," says my daughter.

"Her name's not really Baby, you know," says Spice-savvy friend Erin. "It's Emma."

I, too, know that now.

Having paid little attention to the Spice phenomenon before this, I now know all the names of the girls, most of their lyrics, and all their melodies - they've been stuck in my head now for the better part of a week.

Worse, I'm being drawn into this world. I find myself trying to pick out which pop tart sings which part. (For my money, Mel C. - that's Sporty Spice to you - has the best voice.) I even found myself reading the review of Friday's Montreal show, wondering if the Spice Girls still had IT now that Ginger spice has quit. (She was my least favorite Spice Girl, anyway. She always reminded me of one of those squash-faced little Pekinese dogs.)

And you know what? The music is actually bearable. It's upbeat, rarely schmaltzy, and best of all the lyrics don't advise Junior to set fire to his parents' bed. I'd even go so far as to say I like this music.

I suspect brainwashing is at play here.

This could very well be the case since the cassette accompanied us on a trip to Storyland in New Hampshire this past weekend. I say "accompanied" because there was rarely a moment when it was not being played on the tape deck, so much so that when we checked into the campground, I registered two adults, four children, and five Spice Girls.

So it is not surprising that the Spice music and Spice trivia have been imprinted on our brains like the termporary Spice tattoos on our kids' arms. Having lived through the Seventies, I fear this musical guerilla warfare less for myself than for my children, especially the younger ones. Are they ready for songs that tout that "rules are for breaking?"

I have a hard enough time already getting them to pick up their toys as it is, thank you very much. And let me tell you, there is nothing more disconcerting than driving down the road and looking in the rear-view mirror to see your four-year-old daughter singing that she "needs somebody with a human touch."

And then there is my son. My poor son. Two-year-old James hasn't a clue about what's going on but he wants to take part in the girls' games. When they dress up as Posh, Sporty, and Baby (what - nobody wants to be Scary?), he tries to play along. Overwhelmed by females and their friends in this house, the innocent lad already thinks nothing of putting on the girls' bathing suits and letting the giggling tormentors paint his nails. (I gotta take this kid hunting or something.)

With him already proudly displaying his own Spice tattoo, should I be afraid that now he'll get Spiced? Will knowing the words to "Spice Up Your Life" lead to many future schoolyard beatings?

It's not only James' reputation that I'm worried about. A few nights ago, I was making supper when Kate asked to put on The Tape. I consented and continued my spaghetti-stirring only to realize a few minutes later that I was the only one left in the house. Anyone walking in would have found a grown man holding a plastic spaghetti scooper listening to the Spice Girls.

And I was groovin'! Do you suppose the group needs a replacement for Ginger?


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