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Features

Reddy-made memory

My mother didn't discipline via spanked fannies or "timeouts." That would have been too easy, too quick, too humane.

By SEAN DALY
Published May 13, 2006


 
[NBC 1977]
Helen Reddy
Go to Mothers Day Special Report

Tell me again, Mommy . . .

When I was a brat circa so many years ago, my mother wouldn't discipline via spanked fannies or "timeouts." That would have been too easy, too quick, too humane.

Instead, when Mary Daly felt a disconnect with her snotty only child - her "peach of the beach" as she called me - she headed directly for our hulking stereo.

It was Helen Reddy Time.

Mom, the enforcer in the family, would crank up the swooning sapfest You and Me Against the World. On the song, Reddy croons directly to her daughter Traci, who is heard talking at the track's start and finish.

Diminutive pop poet Paul Williams wrote the infamous mother-to-child weeper in 1974. But Reddy made it her own, even including the No. 1 smash on 1975's bestselling Greatest Hits album, the vinyl version of which we spun round and round. As I recall, Reddy's female-empowerment anthem I Am Woman was also in hot rotation in our house - especially as her marriage was unraveling.

Anyway, as soon as I heard Traci's opening words on You and Me Against the World ("Tell me again, Mommy"), I tried to hide. But my mother would inevitably track me down, and envelope me in her ample Momness. I'd try to squirm free, but it was no use: I was locked in for three minutes and 11 seconds.

Toward the song's finale, when the strings start to swell, my mother started singing as loud as she could, closing her eyes and punctuating each syllable with an extra squeeze: "AND WHEN ONE OF US IS GONE! AND ONE OF US IS LEFT TO CARRY ON!"

By the end, I'd be weak, defeated, partially deaf.

Mission accomplished.

These days, I keep You and Me Against the World on my iPod. I don't listen to it much anymore, but I like knowing Helen and Traci (and Mary Daly) are there just in case. After all, I have her 2-year-old granddaughter at home, and she's starting to get bratty.

I love you, Mommy.

I love you, too, baby.

[Last modified May 12, 2006, 14:51:25]


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