A still frame from the 1949 MGM musical, Neptune’s Daughter. Curiously the song Baby It’s Cold Outside – which won the Academy Award for best song – replaced another, “(I’d Like to Get You on a) Slow Boat to China,” as the latter was deemed inappropriate by the Hayes Office. (MGM photo)

COLUMN: Time for one last verse as Christmas nears

Newspaper writer aims – in penultimate column – for a unique, non-controversial way to sign off

Those who have glanced at this opinion column over the past 12 years will likely have noticed it typically has a controversial bent.

As in, my writing focuses on politicians and the media and (other?) societal ills…

Truth be told, I’m not an overly political person in private life, but I’m encouraged in my position as a newspaper editor to tackle such subjects on our opinion page, and I’ve tried to take a unique look at the odd goings-on around our community and in the world that I think might need a little tweak.

Today will be different. As I prepare to wrap up my time at Peace Arch News just in time for Christmas (yes, seems I broke a time record here as editor), I would like to write this penultimate column in celebration of the season – and without hint of controversy.

And what better way to do it but in song; a duet, if you will, between you and me.

I know. Crazy, right? I haven’t heard of a print columnist doing this either. It’s about time.

And please don’t worry if you can’t sing. I’m told by my coworkers that I’ve been a little pitchy myself (at least, I think that’s what they said), and others won’t hear either of us, so long as we both have our headphones on.

Let’s start with my second-favourite holiday duet of all time – a sort of call-and-response. You go first with the phrase “I really can’t stay” and I’ll follow with the title lyrics “Baby, it’s cold outside.”

Ready? And a one, and a two, and a one-two-thr – STOP!

I’m sorry. It’s just been brought to my attention that Baby It’s Cold Outside IS considered controversial, in this modern age.

READ: ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ yanked from some Canadian radio stations

Silly me. I’ve always viewed it as a quirky, romantic back-and-forth between two soon-to-be lovers in a bygone era, she playing coy and he making his interest known. Instead, it turns out, it’s to be sung with her being afraid – very afraid – and he in a menacing manner:

I’ve got to get home (Baby you’ll freeze out there)

Say lend me a comb? (It’s up to your knees out there!)

Ah… there it is. I hear it now.

But to be fair to us few remaining fans of the classic, I do hope we’re viewed as pro-victim in this time of #metoo. Seriously. At long last, society has no appetite for unwanted attention – and victimization of any sort is unacceptable. Full stop.

Of course, I also hope we are also mature enough to spot the not-so-subtle differences between mutually flirtatious courtship and unwelcome advances. Hint: For those who can’t, consider your advances unwelcome.

Regardless, in the spirit of non-controversy – and for now – I’ll give up on Baby It’s Cold Outside.

Given the limited space left, I think we’ll have just enough room to begin what is my all-time favourite holiday duet. Allow me to kick this one off:

It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank…

Lance Peverley is the editor of Peace Arch News.

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