Re­mak­ing ‘Baby, It’s Cold Out­side’? Sexy move

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FAMILY -

It was fun while it lasted, but the “Baby, It’s Cold Out­side” de­bate is of­fi­cially over.

A few weeks back, we learned that singer John Le­gend rewrote Frank Loesser’s lit­tle ditty for his 2020 hol­i­day al­bum.

Last week, Peo­ple magazine crowned Le­gend the Sex­i­est Man Alive.

Ergo, tweak­ing “Baby,

It’s Cold Out­side” to play up mu­tual con­sent is not snowflaky. It’s sexy.

I don’t make the rules. I just re­port them.

“In­tro­duc­ing … the EGOTSMA,” Peo­ple magazine an­nounced breath­lessly. (At least I pic­ture them an­nounc­ing it breath­lessly.) (EGOT is a per­son who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Os­car and Tony. EGOTSMA is all those things plus Sex­i­est Man Alive.)

“Un­abashedly in love with his wife Chrissy Teigen and a dot­ing fa­ther to their kids, 3½-year-old daugh­ter Luna and 18month-old son Miles,” the ar­ti­cle con­tin­ues, “Le­gend has be­come one of Hol­ly­wood’s big­gest stars while re­main­ing as down-toearth as ever.”

Later, the ar­ti­cle men­tions his “but­tery voice and un­par­al­leled mu­si­cal skills,” as well as his trep­i­da­tion about step­ping into the Sex­i­est Man Alive shoes. “Ev­ery­one’s go­ing to be pick­ing me apart to see if I’m sexy enough to hold this ti­tle,” Le­gend told Peo­ple. “I’m also fol­low­ing Idris Elba, which is not fair and is not nice to me!”

(Hu­mil­ity! So sexy!) (Also, good point! Idris Elba is im­pos­si­bly hard to live up to, sexy-wise!)

Any­way, back to “Baby,

It’s Cold Out­side.”

No one is sad­der to see this de­bate end than I am. It had be­come a hol­i­day tra­di­tion, like zoo lights or din­ner at the Wal­nut Room next to the gi­ant tree: Ra­dio sta­tions fire up “Baby, It’s Cold Out­side.” Some­one writes a new ver­sion or com­plains about a new ver­sion or de­cides to play the orig­i­nal ver­sion on an in-your-face-snowflake end­less loop. I write about it. Read­ers in­vite me to “take your over­ac­tive sense of griev­ance, turn it side­ways and shove it where the sun don’t shine!”

But all good things must come to an end, and I’m cer­tain we’ll find some­thing else to ar­gue about now that this par­tic­u­lar im­broglio has been set­tled.

What’s that? Re­visit my stance on the song one last time for good mea­sure? Oh, fine.

The 1944 ver­sion, sung as a back-and-forth be­tween Loesser and his wife, Lynn, leaves me ut­terly luke­warm. Nei­ther in­censed nor charmed.

I hear it as a win­try relic from a time when women had to pre­tend they weren’t into sex, even if they were, and men were so­cial­ized to press ahead with their flir­ta­tion/co­er­cion, just in case her no meant, “I want to, but I shouldn’t.” (Shouldn’t have sex. Shouldn’t want sex. Shouldn’t dis­ap­point my mother, my fa­ther, my brother who will be there at the door.)

I hear the up­dated ver­sions, in­clud­ing the one Le­gend just recorded with Kelly Clark­son, as harm­less at­tempts to cre­ate a dif­fer­ent sort of win­try scene, one in which we take women at their word: If she says tonight’s not the night, then tonight’s not the night. Be­cause if tonight were the night, she’d feel free to say as much.

I don’t un­der­stand the hos­til­ity to the new ver­sions, nor the rigid pro­tec­tion of the orig­i­nal. I don’t un­der­stand what ideals and val­ues are en­dan­gered when a woman and man agree equally to sex. I think en­thu­si­as­tic con­sent is bet­ter for ev­ery­one.

The Le­gend/Clark­son ver­sion goes like this:

“I re­ally can’t stay

I’ve got to go away

This evening has been

So very nice

My mom will start to worry

My daddy will be pac­ing the floor

So, re­ally, I’d bet­ter scurry

But maybe just a half a drink more

What will my friends think?

If I have one more drink?

And so on. Cute. Play­ful. Con­sen­sual. Sexy.

Case closed. Game over. On­ward.

Join the Heidi Stevens Bal­anc­ing Act Face­book group, where she con­tin­ues the con­ver­sa­tion around her col­umns and hosts oc­ca­sional live chats.

RICH FURY/GETTY

Emmy, Grammy, Os­car and Tony win­ner John Le­gend was named Sex­i­est Man Alive by Peo­ple magazine, tak­ing last year’s crown from Idris Elba.

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