LITTLE BOXES by Malvina Reynolds
The version I have downloaded is a live performance and the audience laughs every time he uses the word 'ticky-tacky'. I find this disconcerting because ever since I first encountered this song as a teenager in the seventies I have found it to be profoundly depressing - mainly because it seemed to be describing me.
My family's house was one of a row of identical houses, my father was a graduate (although he didn't play golf or drink dry martinis), and he had married, had his trio of pretty (well, not too ugly) children and these children seemed to be destined to do exactly the same.
The song seems to have been used to excellent effect in this YouTune clip which I believe is an introduction to an American TV programme called WEEDS. It summarises exactly how I felt when I first heard this song - a slightly sinister sense of pointless conformity and soulessness.
I think this song caused me to rebel - but like all my rebellions it was half-hearted. I began to write daft little poems about the ring around the woman's third finger being akin to the ring around a slave's neck (as in the film ROOTS that was showing at the time), I would go to art college rather than university, I decided, because this was much more liberating, and I certainly would never ever have children.
Happily for me the rebellion failed in all regards: the rings on the third finger of my left hand have rarely been removed for over 23 years; I graduated from university as soon as I could and had my 'pretty children' shortly afterwards. The house that I am living in now is very similar to all the other little boxes in my street and sometimes it does indeed seem that our particular version is held together with little more than ticky-tacky.
But now I am very glad to be in my little box. In fact I am so pleased with the concept of boxes that I frequently find myself making more. Often I imagine them stacked up in their pastel colours with every painful aspect of my life squashed inside them. I keep the lid firmly on, push them as far away from me as possible and hope the things squirming around inside never become strong enough to force the lid to open.