I have fond memories of the Pixies song "Gigantic," which is unusual, I think, given that the song is, as best I can tell, about two strangers f--king in a public park. But I didn't know that at the time these fond memories were being brewed. It was the summer of 1992, and my brother, Andrew, as he was wont to do at the time, had sent me a cassette tape containing songs that he felt I should be listening to. I was living in Saginaw, Michigan, then, which, in those pre-Internet times, might as well have been in the outer rings of Saturn.

Still in college and still "cool," Andrew sent me these musical care packages so I would not fall hopelessly out of touch. I didn't know much about the Pixies beyond the fact that they had a pasty lead singer named Black Francis who wrote barbed songs about mutilation and debasement that he sang in an urgent, whiny voice. But "Gigantic" was not like most Pixies songs. It was bassy and low and sung by a woman whose voice had been scarred by whiskey and cigarettes. I immediately took to it.

I used to pop the casssette in my bulky '80s-vintage Walkman and queue up "Gigantic." It was an eerie, sinister song that opened with a simple bass line -- DuDuDuDuDuDah DuDuDuDuDuDah -- and a woman's ethereal wail -- aaaaaaaaaaah aaaaaaaah aaaaaaaah -- that was the perfect accompaniment for a solitary walk on a summer evening.

What was it about? I've never had an ear for lyrics. I can make out the first few words of a stanza, but then I fall hopelessly behind. "And this I know/His teeth were white as snow/What a gas it was to see him/Walk her every day/Into a shady place..." Then I was lost. Then the song picks up again. "A big big ..." Dog? A dog? Is this about a dog? It's about a dog. He's walking his dog. I guess.

It didn't really matter. I just liked the way the song played out as I sauntered through the neighborhood, the summer sun slowly fading to the west, the sky turning from red to deep blue to black. The summer days were incredibly long in central Michigan, the horizon still showing signs of light as the clock crept toward 10 p.m.

"Gigantic" was my anthem for that summer, when I was still struggling to succeed in my first job out of college, still in love with my first serious girlfriend, still looking ahead to a bright future rather than looking back on a mediocre past. Years later -- four more jobs, three more apartments, five more failed relationships later -- I learned what "Gigantic" is actually about. And I didn't really care.


06: Perhaps most obvious, my father does not respond when I shout "Ben!" or "Hey, Mr. Franklin!"
05: Ben Franklin was born in 1706 and died in 1790; Bob was born in 1928 and is still very much alive.
04: Franklin's expertise was in electric conduction and metallurgy. Bob is more of a structural engineer.
03: Bob's favorite TV programs are "The Rockford Files" and "Becker," while Franklin was not known to be a television enthusiast.
02: Famous quotes:
Franklin -- "Wish not so much to live long as to live well."
Bob -- "Has someone been fooling with the thermostat?"
01: Franklin negotiated a key alliance with France and was massively popular in the salons of Paris; Bob finds the French "lazy" and "only in it for themselves."