In the truck the other day, on our way to Northport, the radio was playing an old Jimmy Buffet song, one I’d never listened to closely and wasn’t listening to closely that morning, either. My attention was directed beyond the windshield, my eyes scanning for deer and turkeys. We’ve been seeing a lot of both, the deer dark and lithe this time of year, the male turkeys all strutting and fanning their tails. So, as I say, I wasn’t listening closely, but the refrain kept repeating (as refrains will do) until it penetrated my consciousness. Huh? What was he singing?
“What to the left, and what to the right?” I asked David.
“Fins,” he answered – but I heard the answer as “Finns,” and that seemed strange, coming from Buffet.
“Is it a U.P. song?” I asked.
David cracked up. “Fins! ‘You’re the only bait in town!’" he added as clarification.
“There’s plenty of fishing in the U.P.,” I protested, defending my interpretation. “Remember the bait machine outside our motel in Manistique?”
“It’s about sharks,” David insisted – and of course he was right.
But if you know the U.P., can’t you see that small town bar, all the local Finns lined up with draft beers after a day of ice fishing, and then a lone woman walks in?
David shook his head. “Finns,” he reminded me, "wouldn’t even speak to her. It isn’t the same thing at all.”
I wonder. After all, with logic, everything depends on your premises. Of course, my premises depended on only hearing the refrain and not the verses. The rest of the song tells the story clearly. Oh, well!