Rap It Up / by Courtney Mehlhaff

I was riding home tonight, and this thought crossed my mind: What if this bus crashes, and by some miracle my iPod survives but I don't, and what if some police detective happens to turn it on (because that's what good detectives do, work all the angles), and what if he sees that the very last thing I was listening to, the voice that was in my head at the exact moment that my life ended, was Lionel Richie? And worse ... what if this detective then looks down at my body and says, "It figures."  

I realize those are a lot of what if's, but still ... horrifying. Not the fact that "Do It To Me One More Time" came up on shuffle, but the idea that someone would probably look at me and assume that, yes, she seems like the kind of person who enjoys easy listening. This would be my luck. That bus wouldn't crash when I was grooving to my customary gangsta rap. No. We would careen off an overpass when Linda Ronstadt or Carly Simon was wailing into my ear.

Listen up, people. I am the whitest-looking white girl on the planet. I probably seem super straight-laced to anyone who doesn't know me. On the outside, I appear boring, serious, humorless. And yes, I possess an eclectic array of music. But I hate being a foregone conclusion. I'd hate to live up to my own stereotype.  I got weirded out enough last week when the dude at Zen Box started making my order before I asked for the C2 with white rice.

Does everyone fancy themselves a mystery? Or are we really more predictable than we could ever imagine?

I recently asked a friend of mine what he would buy me if he won the lottery. It was an intriguing question, since I so rarely mention wanting anything that people complain they never know what to get me for birthdays and Christmases. I usually end up just telling them what they can buy me, and it's usually pretty boring (example: an Amazon or eBay gift card tickles me pink), but at least it's something that I really need.

Good gift-giving is an art. A fantastic gift should be unexpected, but something that the person has previously talked about. It doesn't need to be extravagant or even overly sentimental, but it should be something they probably wouldn't purchase themselves. It should be personal and creative, and not simply a gift for gift's sake. It should say, "I know you, and I thought about what you would enjoy, and here it is." I'm not saying it's easy, I'm just saying you have to listen.

So I was curious to know what this friend thought I would like ... a big-screen TV? An iPhone? I tend to lust after gadgets, though I can never justify buying them. He didn't even think about it. He said, "I'd buy you one of those little houses you're always looking at."

Note to self: Keep this friend. Not only is he unbelievably generous with imaginary money, but he pays attention. In cases like this, I wouldn't mind being predictable one bit.