Cherry Cola, Not Coca-Cola

The first time my father’s pack-a-day Benson and Hedges habit ever benefited me, I was nine or ten years old. B&H were running a promotion whereby when one bought a carton of their cigarettes, one received a compilation CD of classic rock hits. Since my father has always been the kind of person to buy in bulk wherever possible (our visits to my grandfather would always conclude with the boot of the car stocked with dozens of bottles of wine from local vineyards), he quickly ended up with two of these CDs, and gave one to me.

It was one of the first CDs I ever owned, and introduced me to the delights of Chuck Berry and Little Richard, and furthered my enjoyment of the Small Faces, while simultaneously establishing my lifelong hatred of Gerry and the Pacemakers. But my favourite song on the compilation was “Lola,” by a band I’d previously never heard of called The Kinks.

I quickly fell in love with the story of the young man’s seduction, but it wasn’t until many listens later I began to suspect that something was a little awry in this classic tale of boy meets girl. A few more careful listens confirmed my suspicions that Lola was no ordinary sexually assertive young woman. To my mind, this made the song even cooler, which retrospectively seems quite an interesting perspective coming from a sheltered pre-teen country bumpkin who at that point in her life had met few adults who weren’t church-going National Party-voting farmers. Lola, I decided, was a bit of all right.

But then it occurred to me that my father was also listening to the same song, and I began to worry. I mean, sure, I was nine, I could handle it. But what of poor, innocent ol’ Dad? I wasn’t sure he would be able to cope with the song’s message if he figured it out. I decided the best thing to do would be to gently point out the subtext of the song and reassure him that there was nothing wrong with a man dressing like a woman and seducing naive but curious young men on the dance floor.

I picked my moment as best I could. One weekend when I was visiting my father and he had a tape of the CD playing in the car, I waited until he was fast-forwarding “Ferry Across the Mersey” at my request. Casually, I piped up with, “hey Dad? You know that song ‘Lola’?”

“Yes, gremlin. What about it?”

“Well,” I paused. Then I realised that there was point stalling for time. “I don’t think Lola is really a lady.”

My father paused, obviously to take in this new information. I glanced across at him, to make sure he wasn’t too shocked.

“No, darling,” he finally said. “I don’t think she is either.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. I’d educated my father, and he didn’t seem too shocked by my revelations. All was well, and I could go back to enjoying my song without the burden of unshared knowledge.

One Response to “Cherry Cola, Not Coca-Cola”

  1. Chris Says:

    Oh yeah? If Lola’s not a girl, then why is she wearing a dress? I don’t know where you get these crazy ideas. Ya big silly.