“…whose china are we eating on?”

I don’t know much about Karen Pence. I have no idea what she’s like. As far as I know, she’s as normal as vice presidents’ wives come. What I believe, however, is it’s peculiar that her husband, Vice President Mike Pence, calls her “Mother.” 

By now it’s no secret that Pence calls his wife “Mother.” A piece in Rolling Stone brought the – What do we even call it? Habit? Anomaly? Aberration? – to the public’s attention back in 2017. It quoted an unnamed Congressional colleague quoting Pence during a dinner at his home: “Mother, Mother, whose China are we eating on?”

I’m 52 years old, so in my lifetime I’ve actually heard this kind of thing from many men referring to, or even speaking directly to, their wives. Which is to say it wasn’t entirely unusual at one point in time. 

That time has long since passed. It’s an archaic, demeaning practice. Women should be identified as individuals, by their names, not by one of their many functions in life. 

Nowadays it’s weird, at the very least.

But, as the nation’s chief narcissist might say, “It is what it is.”

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As I watched the vice presidential debate on Wednesday evening (Oct. 7), and as “Mother” jointed her husband, who I can only presume is called “Father” from time to time, on stage, Pink Floyd’s song by the same name began to play in my head. You can watch a live performance of it here:

Yesterday I couldn’t get the weird juxtaposition of the iconic song from my formative days and the image of the woman next to Mike Pence out of my head.

Image of Karen Pence in a TikTok video

Weird.

So I decided to try to TikTok it.

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I’ve been experimenting with TikTok lately. (Now that Gen Xers like me are on the platform, it won’t be long before Gen Zers will abandon it for the next new thing.) TikTok videos are limited to 60 seconds max, and you can’t use copyrighted music or other sounds in them, so I came up with best way I could to combine “Mother” and “Mother” in video, along with a little editorial commentary.

I wish I could have gone slower to match the true cadence of the song, and I wish I could have sung all the lyrics, but this is the best I could do. Click the image to watch –

And that did it. I was able to get the disconcerting juxtaposition out of my head and focus on other things.

By the way, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and Roger Waters share the vocals on the track. Here are the lyrics:

“Mother” by Pink Floyd

Mother, do you think they’ll drop the bomb?

Mother, do you think they’ll like this song?

Mother, do you think they’ll try to break my balls?

Ooh, ah
Mother, should I build the wall?
Mother, should I run for President?
Mother, should I trust the government?
Mother, will they put me in the firing line?
Ooh, ah
Is it just a waste of time?

Hush now, baby, baby, don’t you cry
Mama’s gonna make all of your nightmares come true
Mama’s gonna put all of her fears into you
Mama’s gonna keep you right here under her wing
She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing
Mama’s gonna keep baby cozy and warm
Ooh baby, ooh baby, ooh baby
Of course mama’s gonna help build the wall

Mother, do you think she’s good enough?
For me?
Mother, do you think she’s dangerous
To me?
Mother, will she tear your little boy apart?
Ooh, ah
Mother, will she break my heart?

Hush now, baby, baby, don’t you cry
Mama’s gonna check out all your girlfriends for you
Mama won’t let anyone dirty get through
Mama’s gonna wait up until you get in
Mama will always find out where you’ve been
Mama’s gonna keep baby healthy and clean
Ooh baby, ooh baby, ooh baby
You’ll always be baby to me

Mother, did it need to be so high?

Black outlined graphic indicating copyright 2020 Martin C. Fredricks IV

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