In The Personals Column, There Was This Letter I Read

I’ve got Piña Coladas on the brain today.

Which isn’t surprising, considering July 10 is National Piña Colada Day, and as part of our yearlong food challenge we’ll be imbibing in said cocktail this evening. Also not surprising is the fact that I’ve got Rupert Holmes’ big pop hit “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” stuck in my head, as well. You can’t escape the fact that it’s catchy as hell. But also unrealistic, if you ask me. Have you ever actually listened to the words? Allow me to break them down for you, with a little bit of analysis thrown in for good measure.

You’re welcome.

I was tired of my lady, we’d been together too long
Like a worn-out recording, of a favorite song
So while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed
And in the personals column, there was this letter I read

“If you like Piña Coladas, and getting caught in the rain
If you’re not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape
I’m the lady you’ve looked for, write to me, and escape”

We’ve got a guy who is bored with his relationship, so he checks out the personals ads in the newspaper (this song came out in 1979, way before the Internet gave us adultfriendfinder.comright next to his sleeping wife. Or girlfriend – that much is never made clear. Either way, that takes cojones.

I didn’t think about my lady, I know that sounds kind of mean
But me and my old lady, had fallen into the same old dull routine
So I wrote to the paper, took out a personal ad
And though I’m nobody’s poet, I thought it wasn’t half-bad

“Yes, I like Piña Coladas, and getting caught in the rain
I’m not much into health food, I am into champagne
I’ve got to meet you by tomorrow noon, and cut through all this red tape
At a bar called O’Malley’s, where we’ll plan our escape”

So this dude takes out an ad of his own, in an attempt to hook up with the chick. They’re going to meet at 12 PM in a bar, where they will ostensibly drink Piña Coladas before checking into the nearest No Tell Motel to dirty the sheets.

So I waited with high hopes, then she walked in the place
I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face
It was my own lovely lady, and she said, “Oh, it’s you”
And we laughed for a moment, and I said, “I never knew”

“That you liked Piña Coladas, and getting caught in the rain
And the feel of the ocean, and the taste of champagne
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape
You’re the love that I’ve looked for, come with me, and escape”

Talk about getting caught red-handed. It turns out his lady is the one who wrote the ad that he responded to. Which means they were both looking to cheat on their partner. When they discover the truth, there isn’t the slightest bit of anger from either of them. There is nary a “you whore” or “cheating bastard” to be found. Instead of either one flying into a fit of rage, they laugh about it. And then presumably drink Piña Coladas and ride off into the sunset nearest downpour, where they live Happily Ever After.

The drink that almost inspired an affair.
The drink that almost inspired an affair.

Yeah, like that would happen.

For one thing, they could never trust each other again. There’d always be a certain degree of suspicion. If he’s reading in bed next to her and she wakes up suddenly, she’ll be all, “What have you got there, dear?!” And he’ll be like, “It’s a crossword puzzle. I swear. What’s a ten-letter word for an exotic tropical drink?” And speaking of that drink, sure, it’ll be cute the first couple of times they sip it together, but after awhile it’ll become routine. He’ll complain about brain freeze or getting poked in the eye with a little folding umbrella, and she’ll bemoan the fact that the cream of coconut is going straight to her hips. As for those dunes on the cape, the first time they Do It and discover sand in places where the sun never shines for weeks afterward, it’ll lose its romantic appeal, I guarantee.

Sadly, this is a relationship that is doomed to fail.

It’s still a great song, though – and I’ve got some fun facts about it! Again, you’re welcome. The song was originally titled simply “Escape,” but it wasn’t selling because everybody was looking for “the Piña Colada song,” so the record company added that in parentheses to the title, and it took off. It became the last #1 song of the 1970s, and then after dropping to the #2 position, bounced back to #1 on the January 12, 1980 Billboard chart, making it the only song performed by the same artist to hit #1 in two different decades. The chorus originally began with “If you like Humphrey Bogart,” but Rupert Homes didn’t like how that sounded, so he changed the lyrics to the first exotic alcoholic beverage that came to mind. Ironically, he doesn’t even like Piña Coladas; he says they taste like Kaopectate.

Up next: I dissect “Stairway To Heaven” and tell you what, exactly, “a bustle in your hedgerow” is. But first, I have to pour myself a Piña Colada.

What songs do you think play fast and loose with reality?

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14 thoughts on “In The Personals Column, There Was This Letter I Read

  1. Momma Tracy says:

    I love that story!! And I love the lyrics! Too cute and oh so fruity!!

    Gosh. I loved the late 70’s and 80’s!

    Songs that play fast and loose with reality. Hmmmm….what songs don’t?

    Like

  2. Ron says:

    ” He’ll complain about brain freeze or getting poked in the eye with a little folding umbrella, and she’ll bemoan the fact that the cream of coconut is going straight to her hips. ”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Mark, I loved that! In fact, I loved your whole “take” on this song!

    Do have any idea how many vivid memories this song brought back to me hearing it again? All those years living in Florida and going to a bar named “Chickies” with my friends and drinking PINA COLADA’S!

    Hey, and thanks for sharing the bit about it originally being called, “Escape.” Had no idea about that.

    Cheers!

    Like

  3. Lisa Nowak says:

    Ha! I never thought I’d meet anyone else who’d admit to liking this song. That’s almost as bad as admitting you like Afternoon Delight. In my opinion, there’s something else to the Pina Colada song, though, which is evident in the last verse. Though this couple has been together all this time, they don’t truly know each other, which could mean they were too caught up in the physical to bother with anything else (until they both got bored), or it could mean they were too insecure to really let it all hang out. So, from that perspective, even though they might have their doubts about each other in the future, they also have now moved to a new level, where they can be honest and open. But hey, where’s the fun in all that psychological mumbo jumbo, right?

    Like

    1. Mark Petruska says:

      Oh, I love this song. You know what other song I love? Afternoon Delight! Maybe that’s one I should dissect next, although really, the meaning is pretty straightforward to me. Skyrockets in flight, indeed.

      Your alternate take on the final verse makes a lot of sense, actually…

      Like

  4. Is Everyone an Idiot but Me? says:

    That is so funny you write this post because just a few weeks ago this song was on the radio and I listened to the lyrics for the first time and started laughing out loud at the story that unfolded. You are right, in real life they would both me bad at each other even though each is equally to blame. It did remind me a little bit of the ending of You’ve Got Mail though – it was him all along!

    Like

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