Requiem for a Butt

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a brilliant composer. Excerpts from a recently translated letter show he was also a bit of a potty mouth. It may be the only thing we have in common, but I’ll take it.

If there’s one thing my whole family can agree on, it’s that there’s nothing funnier than a potty mouth.

Now, I’m not talking about the kind of potty mouth that, say, George Carlin used to unfurl while on stage or even the kind I myself am so fond of tweeting. No, that stuff would never fly with my parents. I’m talking about fifth-grader dirty–the kind that employs inappropriate euphemisms plus puns and rhyming for that extra, giggly punch.

For instance: road trips with my kin aren’t complete without radio sing-alongs where the word “heart” is replace with “fart,” and “poop” and “butt” are thrown in, willy-nilly, especially in the more serious love songs.

It’s always funny to see my mother, who is an absolute lady in every other way imaginable, light up as she sings “I would poo anything for love, but I won’t do butt!” My brother and I delight in transforming Elton John, wailing “I guess that’s why they call it the poos!” I mean, that song was pretty much written for that: “Rolling like thunder, under the covers”? Come on, at least make the fart jokes a challenge! And my dad’s favorite expression when we’d ask to pull over on those long car trips was “Do you have to wee in your tea?” I still don’t understand that one, but it always tickled me.

Well, it turns out that my family is in good company.

The latest post over on Letters of Note shows that musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a bit of a potty mouth (and ridiculous rhymer), as well.

In fact, in a letter from then 21-year-old Mozart to his 19-year-old cousin (and possible love interest!), Marianne, the composer uses some less-than-refined language and silly rhymes that make Adam Sandler movies look like The Grapes of Wrath and Dr. Seuss books read like Shakespeare.

Now I must relate to you a sad story that happened just this minute. As I am in the middle of my best writing, I hear a noise in the street. I stop writing—get up, go to the window—and—the noise is gone—I sit down again, start writing once more—I have barely written ten words when I hear the noise again—I rise—but as I rise, I can still hear something but very faint—it smells like something burning—wherever I go it stinks, when I look out the window, the smell goes away, when I turn my head back to the room, the smell comes back—finally My Mama says to me: I bet you let one go?—I don’t think so, Mama. yes, yes, I’m quite certain, I put it to the test, stick my finger in my ass, then put it to my nose, and—there is the proof! Mama was right!

“Finger in my ass”? Mozart was the 18th century-version of Dane Cook! Continuing:

I now wish you a good night, shit in your bed with all your might, sleep with peace on your mind, and try to kiss your own behind

In no small coincidence, according to Huffington Post, “Mama”, as Mozart refers to her, may be at least partially to blame for his NSFW language. Mozart’s mother, Anna Maria, used the same rhyme in letters to her husband, Leopold. In fact, biographer Phillippe Sollers, who wrote Mysterious Mozart, points out that “the Mozarts in general write strange things to each other.”

Stay well in body and mind / and try to kiss your own behind. / I wish you a good night / shit in bed with all your might

Mama Mozart would have fit right in with my family! And the poop goes on:

Oh my ass burns like fire! what on earth is the meaning of this!—maybe muck wants to come out? yes, yes, muck, I know you, see you, taste you—and—what’s this—is it possible? Ye Gods!

I don’t know about young Marianne, but there’s no quicker way to get into my pants than mentioning muck coming out.

But there are also the terrible rhymes.

Today I got a letter setter from my Papa Haha safely into my paws claws.

So sorry to hear that Herr Abbate Salate has had another stroke choke.

I could make a joke, using “paws claws” and “stroke choke” together, but that’s too much, even for me. Besides, how irreverent is it to rhyme when discussing another person’s health crisis? Deliciously so!

So, while none of us are brilliant composers, I’m happy to say that my family has a little something in common with the Mozart clan. I’m only sorry he never got to hear our rendition of “My Fart Will Go On.” It’s simply genius.

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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