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“It’s time to wake up, Finn,” I yelled up the stairs. “Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head.”

I ended the lyric to the Beatles’ song “A Day in the Life” right there because I didn’t want to get to the point where he has a smoke — seemed an irresponsible suggestion for a 15-year-old boy.

“Ugh,” Finn replied. “Why do you always break into song lyrics?”

“Song, sung blue, everybody knows one,” I said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

When I was a kid I had a friend whose dad would randomly switch into an accent when speaking. He’d do British (both upper crust and Cockney), Irish (a really bad brogue, and I know one when I hear one), Charlie Chan Chinese (this was the pre-PC era, “cultural appropriating had yet to enter the lexicon), Hungarian and a Cary Grant he was inordinately found of.

When he’d to it, he’d get a far-off look in his eyes. I have a better understanding now that he was responding to some internal cues that told him it was going brilliantly because there was no external validation.

I found the man mildly entertaining but admit this may have been a case of Small Sample Size Syndrome, or as I like to tell Finn, “I can put up with anything for 10 seconds.”

To my friend, his dad — who was born and bred in Burien and had no rightful claim to any accent — was a ceaseless source of embarrassment.

He once told me, “When we grow up, if I start doing that, just shoot me.”

We lost track of each after childhood and for a variety of reasons I’ve decided it best to not track him down and kill him.

And now as I enter the early afternoon of my life (that’s the phrase we 57-year-olders prefer), I wonder if I’ve became “that guy.”

The only way to resolve this is to have an outside auditor come in and conduct scientific observations before rendering a professional opinion, but what with all the COVID restrictions, I’m not sure that’s feasible.

If my Song Singers Anonymous group was meeting right now, I’d stand up and admit I have a chronic case Song in My Head Slips Out of My Mouth.

It’s not just with my sons, although they tend to trigger it most often.

At a staff meeting several years back a reporter innocently, but ultimately irresponsibly, said “death trap.”

I tried to stop myself, but who was I kidding. Not a second after the “p” sound was out of his mouth, I brought the meeting to stunned halt by belting out, “It’s a suicide rap, we gotta get while we’re young ‘cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run.”

In my head I was up on the table, flailing at a Bruce Springsteen air guitar waiting for Wendy to walk into the room so we could blow that joint for good.

I can’t be blamed for this one. It was as if I was responding to an instruction implanted by a carnival hypnotist long-ago.

At the risk of sounding sexist, this type of clinically obnoxious behavior seems to be a dude thing. Although over the years I have worked with two women who were incessantly humming.

As a person who has had songs running in his head 24/7 for the entirety of his life I understood where they were coming, but at times it was all I could do to not shout out, “Don’t you realize you’re humming horribly off key!”

I’m certain they didn’t realize. I’m sure it was a pitch-perfect symphony in their head.

I’ve come to grips with my infliction but I do worry that years from now this becomes my children’s main memory of me.

“Memories, like the corners of my mind, misty water color memories …’

Well, you know the rest.

Contact managing editor Michael Gallagher at


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