Deconstructing “Call Me Maybe” Lyrics (aka Sisters are Doing it To Themselves)

Laurie Frankel

Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen


I threw a wish in the well,

Don't ask me, I'll never tell

I looked to you as it fell,

And now you're in my way

Many cultures throughout history have regarded water, because of its vital necessity to human existence, as a sacred gift from the gods. The idea of a wishing well, a body of water which will grant wishes, comes from this tradition.


I'd trade my soul for a wish,

Pennies and dimes for a kiss

I wasn't looking for this,


Your stare was holdin',

Ripped jeans, skin was showin'

Hot night, wind was blowin'

Where you think you're going, baby?

Initially, it would seem the object of this woman’s affection is interested. He is looking at her intently. His pants are ripped? Is he poor? Unlikely. In fact, in the era in which this was written, purposefully-torn pants were in fashion, an indication of one’s level of style. Most jeans of this type are very expensive, so from this limited information we can assume the man in question has means, or at least we know the money he does have is spent on appearing fashionable. What follows, “hot night, wind was blowin’,” is an indication of the season. And while it may be a stretch, I’d like to posit that perhaps this is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the protagonist as sometimes a talkative woman is referred to as a windbag. It may be an oblique reference but not completely unfounded, as you will soon see our protagonist is quite repetitive. Further scholarly research is required to establish this as historical fact. But unsupported or not, let this be a lesson to all young girls—less is more.


Hey, I just met you,

And this is crazy,

But here's my number,

So call me, maybe?

Woman took on the role of aggressor typically reserved for the male, and since the heterosexual male couldn't take on the role of female, he had no role at all (except to take women’s numbers and call them, maybe). And, for the record, she knows it’s crazy . . .

It’s important to remember this love letter/poem/Internet sensation is from a brief era of extreme experimentation when the male/female paradigm was turned upside down. Woman took on the role of aggressor typically reserved for the male, and since the heterosexual male couldn’t take on the role of female, he had no role at all (except to take women’s numbers and call them, maybe). And, for the record, she knows it’s crazy . . .


You took your time with the call,

I took no time with the fall

You gave me nothing at all,

But still, you're in my way

This is a classic example of the come here/go away syndrome many couples engage in, otherwise known as Bossy-the-Cow-runs-after-Mr.-Good-for-Nothing. She herself says he gave her “nothing at all,” which only serves to make Bossy run faster. Poor Bossy. As my Grandma Etty would say, this young man of interest is as cool as the other side of the pillow. Bottom line is the man should always want it more and, as my Uncle Ezra would say, this one would rather chase sheep.


Before you came into my life

I missed you so bad

I missed you so bad

I missed you so, so bad

This is an interesting use of tense to create emotion, i.e., missing someone before you have met them (also, and less interesting, is this example of protagonist as repetitive windbag). It’s like in the movies when someone drinks a love potion and falls in love with the next thing that crosses their path. Everyone in the audience wants to yell, “Don’t kiss the troll. It’s the potion talking, stupid!” And after this man’s rebuffing he is still “in her way.” Really? I would argue the protagonist herself is the only thing in her way, living inside her pretty little head and running after unavailable metrosexuals in ripped jeans. Let’s hope someday soon she sees the light. Unlikely but . . . maybe.

Short-story writer and humorist, Laurie Frankel, knows pain is the root of all comedy and is thrilled her life is so damn funny. Her work has appeared in journals such as North American ReviewAlaska Quarterly ReviewGulf StreamThe Literary Review, and Shenandoah. She is the author of There’s a Pattern Here & It Ain’t Glen Plaid”, “I Wore a Thong for This?!” and is currently at work on a memoir. Contact her at Laurie was featured in issue 296.3 of NAR.

Claire Stigliani (b. 1983) is a drawer and painter known for her works inspired by paintings, photographs, magazines, posters, YouTube clips, literature, performance, and plays. These works explore the act of watching and being watched and blur fiction with reality. Her recent shows include The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art; The Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, (WI); The Dean Jensen Gallery, Milwaukee, (WI); RussellProjects, Richmond (VA); and the Jenkins Johnson Gallery (NY). She is a visiting assistant professor of art in drawing, painting, printmaking and photography in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University.