“Can you give me a ride to my dentist appointment?” Matt’s mother asked him. Fine, he agreed, as long as he got to choose what station they’d listen to on the drive to the appointment. His mother didn’t like that rock and roll music so much, and she wasn’t going to like it playing from his car. She sat in silence as Matt hummed along to “Hey Joe.”
Those immortal words: I’m going down to shoot my old lady/you know I caught her messin’ ’round town/and that ain’t too cool.
“Who sings this?” she asked.
Jimi Hendrix, Matt told her. “The song’s called ‘Hey Joe'”. “This is bullshit,” she sneered.
“It’s macho bullshit. Why is it okay for him to shoot his wife? That’s so ancient.”
“Umm…Mom, it’s just a song, okay?” Matt tried to explain to her that it’s really a folk song, you know, the story of a man who commits a crime of passion and goes on the run. It just wasn’t working with his mother; she wasn’t buying it.
“Oh, but it’s okay for a woman to kill her husband or lover in a crime of passion, like Jean Harris?”
“That’s different!” she snorted, with that arms-folded-across-the-chest superiority that mothers love to exude when they know they’ve been busted. “A woman gets more sympathy for a crime of passion, believe me. He had it coming.”
“Well, Mom, I think that’s pretty sexist of you to think that it’s perfectly acceptable for a woman to kill her lover, or husband, or whoever, if he leaves her or cheats on her. But it’s not okay for a man to do the same?”
Before the song could end, Matt switched the car radio to a different station. Talk radio, just to be safe. Traffic was slowing down. His mother craned her neck to see if she could make out what was blocking their lane. She wasn’t going to be late, but she didn’t want to get there just in time, either. “What the heck is causing this traffic jam?” she wondered aloud.